Analyzing the 2012 election
The authors contend that 37 states are pretty much safe for one party or the other. This list includes 14 states for Obama with 186 Electoral College votes, and 23 states (many of them smaller ) for the Republican nominee with 191 Electoral College votes.
How does either candidate get to 270?
Of the 13 tossups, one is in the Northeast, New Hampshire (4), 6 are in the Midwest or rust belt: Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Iowa (6), Wisconsin (10), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10). Three are in the South: Florida (29), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13). Three are in the Southwest: Colorado ((9), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5). All 13 states were won by Obama in 2008, and 5 were won by John Kerry in 2008).
The article examines the minority vote for each state except New Hampshire, the college educated white vote, and the non-college educated white vote, since the historical voting pattern for each group is markedly different for all three. The sizes of the three groups are shifting -- moving toward equal slices , with minority share growing, a favorable trend for Democrats, and non educated white voter share declining, also good for Democrats.
However, there was a dramatic shift of college educated white voters from 2008 to 2010, with many more voting Republican. My own projections are very similar to these. Assume Romney is the nominee. He should run very strongly among college educated white voters. He may not run as well among non college educated whites as Bush did or the GOP did in 2010. The entire purpose of the astroturfed Occupy Wall Street movement (have you forgotten that Barack Obama was a community organizer?) was to turn non college educated whites against the GOP and to portray Romney, as the defender of the 1%.
Among the states in play, I think North Carolina and New Hampshire lean to the GOP, and Florida ever so slightly as well. This gets Romney to 239. How does he get to 270? By winning Ohio and Virginia. Or if he loses Virginia, by winning Colorado and either Nevada or Iowa (a tougher road I think). If Romney can mount a real challenge in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, this is very bad news for Obama. These are must win states for Obama, as are Ohio and Florida for Romney.
The most fought over states are likely to be Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, Florida and maybe Pennsylvania. You will know it will be razor close if the candidates are spending a lot of time Nevada and Iowa.