The presidential race is a dead heat right now, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a tougher road ahead, according to Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report and a frequent source of election information in major news outlets. The commentator talked about the upcoming election this morning at the Mortgage Bankers Association Conference & Expo in Chicago.
Romney’s performance in the first presidential debate helped close the gap between him and President Barack Obama, Cook said. However, it may not be enough to turn the tide in major battleground states such as Ohio, Virginia, and Florida, which have been saturated with anti-Romney ads since June. Cook noted that the Romney campaign has spent much of the last few months attacking Obama on economic issues at the national level instead of challenging the constant barrages on his record in the private sector in these states.
Consequently, the 2012 presidential election could be one of those rare instances in which the popular vote and Electoral College don’t go in the same direction, Cook explained. He put Romney’s odds at winning the popular vote at “better than even,” but added that Obama only needs to get 33 out of 110 “up for grabs” electoral votes to get to 270 — the amount needed for a victory. “Even if you give Romney North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida, that only gets him to 248 — 22 short of what he needs,” Cook explained.
Still, the dynamics of the presidential race could change over the next couple of weeks, and there are still unknowns, such as how high voter turnout will be among young adults and Latinos.
“In a race this close, everything matters,” Cook said. “We’ve got a photo finish vote coming up. Watch Ohio more than anyplace else.”
Cook also predicted that Republicans would pick up seats in the Senate, but said there were too many extremely tight races across the country to determine if they would win a majority. “I think there’s a fair chance that on the day after the election, we won’t know which party has the majority in the U.S. Senate,” he said.