The 2012 presidential election in its last hours circled in around Ohio, and Virginia, two states that are virtual must-wins for Mitt Romney and which both presidential campaigns believe remain exceedingly close.
Amid hundreds of paths to victory for both candidates, it is these two states that earned special attention on Tuesday from the candidates. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Joe Biden all campaigned in the Cleveland, Ohio area on Tuesday, with the Republican ticket breaking off to stump in Virginia and Pennsylvania as well.
“I’m looking forward to the results. And I expect that we’ll have a good night,” Obama said on Tuesday morning during a stop at a Chicago office, where he congratulated Mitt Romney on a “spirited campaign.”
Edit: Romney is up 10 points in the electoral college with 155 to Obama's 144
You can stay up to date with the election at the Huffington Post or watch live on YouTube
The election has little in common with candidate Barack Obama’s triumphant sweep in 2008, and had more of the feel— in both hopeful campaigns — of 2004, a race that could have gone either way and that was decided by Ohio voters who preferred to stick with a flawed incumbent than to take a risk on a challenger. George W. Bush won the state that year by about 40,000 votes. Now Barack Obama is the incumbent arguing to stay the course, while Mitt Romney is arguing that the country needs a change. One change, though, could save Obama: The map has shifted, and now a more suburban, more diverse, and liberal Virginia is among the toss-up states.
Exit polling released by the news organizations that sponsor it appeared to follow follows pre-election public polls, suggested that the economy is the most important issue for voters this cycle. What we will find out tonight is whether more voters credit Barack Obama for averting a depression, or are frustrated with the slow pace of recovery.
Romney’s narrow path to victory depends particularly on winning a substantial portion of the upper Midwest. If Ohio proves fruitless, Wisconsin and the right combination of other states may provide a win. Pennsylvania remains a fleeting hope for the Republican campaign, but both sides acknowledge polling in the state has tightened over the past week.
And operatives on both campaigns Tuesday shared a consensus on some of the places to look Tuesday night.
Turnout in Virginia is expected to beat 2008 in a state Obama won by 6.3%, while Ohio officials suggest that they expect turnout to largely remain the same this year.
There is a bipartisan consensus that Nevada is safely in the Democratic column. Republicans point to Adams County in Colorado as a sign they are winning the state. And in Iowa, Romney insiders point to high turnout in the conservative Northwest of the state as a sign they will win.
Democrats believe high college turnout will help them hold onto Virginia, while Republicans note large turnout in coal country and the communities surrounding the state’s military-bases.
But for veterans of the bitter 2004 race, all eyes turned to Ohio. Republican were betting heavily on high turnout in coal country and the Cincinatti area, while Democrats believe that President Obama’s auto bailout will carry him to victory.