In the current presidential race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Obama appears to have an easier path to reach the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidential nomination.
The "blue states," or states in which Obama will most likely receive a majority of votes, have a total of 247 electoral college votes. These states include those in the Northeast, the three West coast states, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico and Wisconsin.
The "red states," or those which will most likely favor Romney, includes most of the South, West and the plains states. Alaska, Indiana and West Virginia are also red states. These states have 206 electoral college votes.
The election will most likely be decided by seven "battleground" or "swing" states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia.
If this current map holds, Obama only needs 23 additional electoral college votes to win the election. If he were to win the biggest prize among the swing states – Florida's 29 electoral college votes – he could lose in the rest of the swing states and still win the election.
Florida is a must-win, therefore, for Romney under the current map. But winning Florida would only put him at 235 electoral college votes. He would still need 35 more votes.
Romney would also have to win either Ohio (18 votes) or Virginia (13 votes). Winning Florida, along with Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire, would still leave Romney 10 votes short.
Obama, on the other hand, could lose Florida and still have several paths to the nomination. Victories in Nevada, Colorado and Ohio, for instance, would get him passed the finish line with 280 electors. Other paths that do not include Florida are: 1) Ohio and Nevada; 2) Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire; 3) Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia; or, 4) Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia.
The list of swing states could change, of course, in the six months before the election. Romney could open up his range of possibilities if he were to become competitive in some additional states. Two possibilities are Michigan (16 votes) and Pennsylvania (20 votes). Wins in both these states would mean that Romney would not have to win Florida.
Pennsylvania's electors have not voted Republican since 1988, but the election has been close in some years. The state currently has one Democratic senator and one Republican senator.
Romney could also benefit from his family ties to Michigan. He was born there and his father was governor of Michigan in the 1960s. John Kerry narrowly won Michigan in 2004 with 51 percent of the vote, but Obama easily carried Michigan in 2008 with 57 percent of the vote.
Obama, on the other hand, could have even more paths to the nomination if Arizona were to become a swing state. John McCain won Arizona in 2008, but that was unsurprising considering that Arizona is his home state. Like the other Southwestern states of Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, Arizona has been becoming more of a Democratic state due, mostly, to its growing Latino population.
For an interactive map where you can test out other possible paths to the nomination, check out www.270towin.com.