Mitt Romney's route to victory is quickly narrowing

Early evening losses of states like Wisconsin and New Hampshire make Mitt Romney's path to 270 electoral votes that much more difficult.

Jessica Rinaldi/REUTERS
A boy holding an American flag peeks out of the voting booth as his mother votes at the Town House during the presidential election in New Hampton, N.H., Tuesday.

The night is still young – and it could drag on for quite a while yet – but already, Mitt Romney’s path to victory is looking significantly steeper.

Pennsylvania, where Mr. Romney made a last-minute play, even visiting the state on Sunday, has been called for President Obama, as has Michigan – a state that was probably never really in contention, but where Mr. Romney was born and had at least made a small show of contesting.

Also in Mr. Obama’s column (according to most news networks): Wisconsin – a battleground state where polls had shown a relatively tight race, and where the presence on the GOP ticket of Rep. Paul Ryan, who hails from Wisconsin, had given Republicans hope of taking the state.

In some ways, perhaps, the biggest psychological blow to Romney may have come from tiny New Hampshire, a state with just four electoral votes, but where Romney owns a home and was hoping to pull off a victory.

Meanwhile, the Southern battleground states – Florida, Virginia, and even North Carolina – all remain too close to call. Needless to say, those are all states Romney must win (and was, in fact, favored to win according to the most recent polling). The fact that those results are taking longer to come in is not an encouraging sign for Romney.

What this all means, in practical terms, is that Romney’s route to 270 electoral votes is getting narrower and narrower.

For one thing, it means Romney now absolutely must win Ohio – a state that, at this writing, is still too close to call, but where so far Obama appears to be performing well (and where the Senate race has already been called in favor of the Democratic incumbent, Sherrod Brown). In nearly every electoral map scenario, pretty much the only ways Romney could have possibly won without Ohio involved taking either Wisconsin or New Hampshire (along with nearly every other battleground). Those routes are now closed off.

Mr. Obama, on the other hand, has a variety of possible paths to get to 270. At this point, assuming he winds up winning Nevada, where recent polls had shown him with a decent lead, the only other battleground state he would need is Ohio to put him over the top. But even without Ohio, he could win – if he takes, say, Iowa and Colorado.

Notably, Florida is looking close enough that it may wind up in a recount. But given the way the rest of the map is going, Florida's results might not even matter.

It may not be such a long night, after all.

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