The nine — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — offer both parties reasons for hope, and concern. It is no coincidence that Mr. Obama chose two of them, Ohio and Virginia, to hold his first official re-election rallies on Saturday.
“This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class,” Mr. Obama said at Ohio State University in Columbus.While the performance of the national economy will help shape the mood of the country and set the tone of each campaign, the situation on the ground in each of the nine states could be pivotal as well.
It would be hard to argue that these states are better off now than they were four years ago, given that they have yet to recover the jobs they lost. Often, that makes a compelling argument for a challenger trying to unseat an incumbent.
But political scientists have found that past elections have been more influenced by the changes in the economy in the year or two before the election. And a range of economic data provided by Moody’s Analytics shows that all nine states are rebounding and that most now have unemployment rates below the national average. If voters in those states begin to feel the improvement by the fall and the economy does not take a turn for the worse, it could aid the president’s efforts to hold on to enough of them to win.
Seems to me that the Times is making the case this race is wide open. It's not. The Real Clear Politics averages map shows right now President Obama needing only a couple of tossup states, or really just one: Ohio or Florida, to win outright with a 253-171 lead of Mitt Romney. Romney would have to win at least 7 of 9 tossups in this scenario and cannot lose either Ohio or Florida or it's over. In other words, the reality here is that Romney has a major uphill battle right now.
But the Times model ignores North Carolina, another state that went for President Obama (barely) and doesn't mention it as a toss-up. It also takes Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Nevada out of President Obama's column, and ignores perennial swing state Missouri which barely went for McCain. If we make those changes and keep NC for Obama and give Missouri to Romney, it's still a 232-180 race, but Romney has more options, and in that scenario Pennsylvania and Florida become far more important than Ohio. It's still tough for Romney to win, but not nearly as tough as the truth.
In other words, the Times is selling you a horse race where Romney remains extremely competitive. Our liberal media, folks.