Why The Election Remains A Tossup

The Quinnipiac poll of swing states– Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania raises profound challenges for President Obama, underscoring why the election is effectively a tossup, notwithstanding his narrow lead in the Real Clear Politics averages.

There are a number of reasons I have reached this conclusion.

First, the President is effectively in a statistical tie in Ohio and Florida.   The swing state polling that was released this week in a new Quinnipiac University poll shows a virtual tie in Florida, with Romney leading 44 percent to 43 percent.

Ohio is also a virtual tie in Quinnipiac’s new polling, with Obama leading by a 44-to-42 percent margin.

In Pennsylvania, his lead is just outside the margin of error, at 47 to 39. But these numbers mask more serious problems.

First, any time an incumbent is below 50, much less 45% of the vote, he is vulnerable. The expectation and indeed the anticipation is that 2/3 of the remaining vote would go to the challenger. In that instance, both Florida and Ohio – each containing 46 electoral votes —  would go to Governor Romney.

Underscoring that basic point, the President’s job approval in both Florida and Ohio is also below 50%– 46% in Florida and 48% in Ohio. Pluralities in both Florida and Ohio believe that he does not deserve to be reelected, and the reason for this is almost certainly the economy.

Over 2/3 in Florida and Ohio say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States. And while majorities in Florida and Ohio believe we are in a recession, Romney has a 9 point lead on his economic management in Florida, and a 4 point lead in Ohio.

Further, on the other hot button issue of the day, healthcare, majorities in Florida and Ohio want to repeal the law.

The implications of this are clear.

The President now has an electoral college lead, according to Real Clear Politics, of 253 to 170, and his path to electoral victory seems clear, requiring him to win 2 of the outstanding 9 toss up states.

Still, if you take Florida and Ohio’s 47 electoral votes and give them to Governor Romney, it means that to be reelected with 270 electoral college votes, the President would need to win two of Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina or New Hampshire.

And given the President’s weakness on the economy and healthcare, two of the top issues facing the country, what would seem to be a very achievable proposition ultimately seems to be more daunting a challenge.

Read more at Forbes.com