We are now 19 days from the 2012 election. Here is the state of play as I see it:
My premise is that states that went strongly for Bush in 2004 are essentially Republican states that will "come home" to the GOP after a brief romantic fling with Obamamania in 2008. That fling is now over... those states woke up and saw that the romantic figure they had brought home from the bar after a night of tequila shooters is actually an out-of-work sociology grad student who can't find a job in his "field." The states that have come home are Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado. That gets Romney to 257 electoral votes.
What does this mean? It means that Romney only needs 13 more electoral votes to get to 270. There are a lot of ways to get there.
1. Win Iowa and Nevada. These are states that Bush won in 2004, but were close. That gets you to 269, which means you will win in the House because Republicans will control more state delegations. (For those of you who don't understand how this works, the House does not vote on the President in the event of a tie in gross, but instead votes by state delegations. Thus, California's huge Democratic majority will be counterbalanced by Wyoming's lone Republican congressman. Weird, but that's the Constitution. You could obviate the necessity for that by winning one district in Maine, which splits its electoral college votes. That would get you to 270.
2. Win Wisconsin and New Hampshire. These states have historically been very close, but I think have been trending toward Republicans in recent years, and show huge drops in Obama's support from the anomaly of 2008. Wisconsin has a popular conservative governor in Scott Walker, the VP candidate in Paul Ryan, and a popular former governor, Tommy Thompson, running for an open Senate seat. And Romney as the former governor of Massachusetts is well-known in NH. Win those two and you're at 271.
3. Win Michigan. Michigan just elected a Republican governor in 2010, it's economy is in the toilet, Detroit is a poster-child for liberal policies' destructive effects on cities and economies, and Romney grew up there. That would get you to 273.
4. Win Pennsylvania. I could be wrong, but I think Pennsylvania is ripe for the picking. Obama won it by 10 in 2008, but Kerry only won it by 2 points in 2004. That would get you to 277.
5. Win Ohio. Ohio's economy is actually doing better than the national economy, and Obama has spent a lot of resources there. Ohio has been traditionally Republican, but has been changing in recent cycles. I think Romney wins there, but if he wins there it will be gravy and he won't really need it, because he will have already won elsewhere.