Mitt Romney

By Susan Lyon, NerdWallet 

The upcoming presidential on November 6th is shaping up to be a lot like a game of poker.  How is this election like poker, you ask?

Even though many analysts are predicting an Obama win, the game isn’t over until the last hand is dealt.

Though Mitt Romney’s odds of winning are currently only hovering at 31%, based on the statistical accuracy of historical polling, there are a few key states he just might end up winning that could get him to the total 270 electoral votes – out of 538 total in the Electoral College – needed to win the White House for the Republicans.

Mitt Romney’s odds aren’t amazing but there are four key scenarios that could get him a win.  So as audiences watch the election being called this coming Tuesday night, they should be keeping their eyes on Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, and even New Hampshire to see if Mitt Romney is closing in or not.

Winning Hands: What States Does Mitt Romney Need to Win?

This infographic shows the four main combinations of swing states – currently polling really closely in battleground state polls – that could give Mitt Romney the win.


Presidential Poker: What State Combinations Could Win Mitt Romney the Election

Presidential Poker: What States Romney Needs to Win

How the Election Prediction Model Works

The statistical odds change slightly every day as we incorporate new polling data coming in from crucial swing states into our election prediction model.  Check back daily up until election night for new polling updates.

Here’s how the math shapes up:

  1. It takes 270 electoral votes to become the next U.S. President.
  2. It is generally accepted that Obama has 253 safe electoral votes, while Mitt Romney has only 206.
  3. This means there are 79 votes on the table that current polling is showing either candidate could win.
  4. Therefore, Mitt Romney will need at least 64 of these votes to get to 270.  (Barack Obama would need only 17 more votes to get there.)
  5. Given current polling in the key swing states & historical polling accuracy, Mitt Romney’s statistical chance of getting those 64 votes is only 31% right now.

The election model is updated daily with the most recent polling data available, so check back to see how the candidates’ odds are shaping up as we head into election day this Tuesday, November 6.

Could Mitt Romney Win the Popular Vote But Lose the Election?

Nationwide polling shows this is a distinct possibility.  As NerdWallet analyzed back in September, there is a scenario in which Mitt Romney could win the majority of the U.S. popular vote but lose the election, based on the way our Electoral College system is built.  While fairly unlikely, this scenario is definitely possible this year.

At the end of the day, the numbers behind the Electoral College system pretty dramatically favor a win for Obama in 2012. Despite neck-in-neck public polling at a national level, when it comes to counting the votes that really matter we find that Mitt Romney only has a 31% chance of making it to the White House.

Should the Electoral College be abolished?  NerdWallet interviewed a series of experts, who agree that while some level of reform would be good for our democracy, the Electoral College is set up to protect and help smaller states and maintain proportional representation.