It is 111 days from the 2012 election. Time for an electoral college prediction! With over 3 months left in heavy campaign season, there is plenty of time for these states to change colors. Here is a breakdown of what I think at the moment:
Iowa - A PPP Poll out yesterday gave Obama a +5% edge in Iowa. This is certainly questionable. Indeed, if I were to predict right now which state is the most likely to change by November, I am sad to say I would have to predict the hawkeye state. However, at the moment, I think that Romney is just a poor fit for those who might otherwise get out to vote for a Republican, the large evangelical population may be less enthusiastic to vote for a Mormon.
Wisconsin - Given the recall election polling proving to be accurate with Scott Walker holding onto his office, I think Obama will be able to carry Wisconsin. All polling seems to indicate that there are those in Wisconsin who voted for Walker but will also vote for Obama (odd but true.) Wisconsin will be blue.
Michigan - Polls continue to predict that Michigan will be a tossup. Its odd that Obama's rescue of the auto industry hasn't pushed his numbers up, but I suppose there must be some weight to the fact that Michigan is Romney's home state. (The trees are the right height there after all.) However, I don't think that Romney-nomics play into the facts on the ground. Michigan will start to solidify in the next 2 months.
Colorado - Mandy Still (my favorite Obama staffer) is going to make sure this state is blue.
Ohio - With the economy doing better in Ohio than it is nationally, the aforementioned auto-industry rescue, and the Obama ground game in the state, there is no amount of Super-PAC money that could overcome Romney's weakness as a candidate. Obama wins Ohio = Obama gets 4 more years.
Virginia - The state went deep red in 2010, but oh how the times have changed. Eric Cantor is going to have to fight for his political life, and the state could see Tim Kaine score a major victory in the Senate race. The urban areas are particularly important in Virginia, its just about how well the democrats are are getting their base voters to the polls. So far so good.
North Carolina - Polls show Obama with a +1-2% lead. This won't last. I think North Carolina was a great get in 2008, but its still a red state, and I think it will be the easiest state for Mitt to flip (after Indiana) - Its a state the democrats clearly want, so much so, they made the decision for NC to host their national convention. Its possible they would win by a sliver, and I wouldn't be shocked if they did. Right now I'm just unsure that there will be enough Obama voters from 08 who return to put him over the top.
Florida - This is THE swing state. Obama has so many paths to the presidency that he can lose this state and still win. For Mitt Romney, the ONLY way to win is to begin with reclaiming florida. Romney desperately needs electoral votes, and the 27 provided by the sunshine state would be a good place to start. There are so many factors to examine when its comes to Florida I would write for hours. Instead I'll skim the surface. Big factors to consider: Retirees, the Jewish population, urban centers (Miami-Dade), Cuban-Americans (see Miami-Dade), and voter suppression. Florida is even in polling, and is likely to stay that way leading into the election. I think Obama's policy shift on deportations, the fact Romney won't select Rubio, and several other considerations will allow Obama to hold the state by a sliver.
VP: I am still fairly certain that Romney will choose Rob Portman. He needs Ohio (Portman does nothing to help there) but on paper it seems like he is giving the buckeye state its due attention. Portman is the safest choice because he doesn't overshadow Romney, he is boring and technically qualified. Romney would want to pick a game-changer at this point to change the subject away from his tax returns, but we are living in a post Palin world, he can't risk picking a game-changer.
VP #2 - (And who I would choose if I were Romney) is Tim Pawlenty, he is the single best advocate for a Romney presidency, he is generally likable, boring, qualified (not really, but you know what I mean). I'll go on, but I think having two former governors on the ticket is unlikely, Minnesota is not in serious play (and wouldn't be with T-Paw), and Romney characteristically does what others tell him (save for releasing tax returns). However, his selection would not surprise me. He has a good report with Romney, and has been a spokesman for his campaign since he dropped out. He would sell Romney better than Romney sells himself.
Tax Returns - There is no chance Romney will release his tax returns. He can't. Do not expect them anytime soon.
Full Circle - It goes without saying, but no matter how off I am on the electoral college, Obama is going to win this election. Romney is never going to win enough states to put him over 270. On this I would wager an incredible amount. In fact, I do not encourage gambling, but if you want to score a few extra dollars, go put some $$ on Obama and thank me later.