I will go out on a limb now--and a rather rickety one, at that--and issue my Fearless Forecast of the battleground states (including those states that are part of a recently expanded electoral map).
No need to call all 50 states; the majority are pretty obvious. No serious person, for instance, really believes that California will vote for Gov. Romney. Or that Texas will go for President Obama.
Still, here are the swing states, as I see them:
Colorado: Very close. And this state has a very high percentage of women voters. Still, what I have seen would appear to indicate that the trend, however slight, is toward Gov. Romney. Romney
Florida: This state has been trending toward Gov. Romney for the past month or so. And the (traditional) Mediscare tactic does not appear to be taking hold there, among seniors. Romney
Iowa: This state is exceedingly close, in my view. Much will depend upon whether the Republican-leaning western portion of the state can effectively vitiate the Democratic advantage in the eastern part of the state. Still, the Des Moines Register's recent endorsement of Gov. Romney may be of some importance. Not because newspaper endorsements, per se, are a major factor anymore--newspapers simply do not have the same clout they once did, to shape voters' opinions--but because it may be emblematic of a trend. Romney
Nevada: Republicans have some reason to hope here. It is my understanding that early voting in Clark County (Las Vegas, which is heavily unionized) is down a bit from 2008 levels. Still, I rather expect President Obama to keep The Silver State in the blue column. Obama
New Hampshire: Another very close state, like Iowa. Still, the recent trends that I have seen appear to favor the former governor of a contiguous state. Romney
Virginia: Early voting in northern Virginia--a Democratic stronghold--appears to be rather disappointing, from a Democratic standpoint. So, although the public polls seem to show this as a real tossup, I think the margin might be a little greater than many expect. Romney
Wisconsin: Like most Republicans, I had a great deal of hope that Gov. Romney could carry The Badger State, following the failed recall of Gov. Scott Walker in June. But I am beginning to think the Democratic hold on this state will continue--although it could be close. Obama
Michigan: This state has looked to be in play for some weeks now. Still, the auto bailout (that did not play very well throughout most of the country) is, understandably, rather popular here. And I expect Detroit to deliver the state into Democratic hands. Obama
Pennsylvania: A recent poll in The Keystone State, showing Gov. Romney up by an astounding four percentage points, has given rise to some Republican hope here. And the fact that Gov. Romney is spending some valuable time and campaign funds (over this last pre-election weekend) in Pennsylvania may be revealing. Even so, this may be a little like Charlie Brown, who regularly thinks that this will be the time that Lucy really does hold the football--and yet it never quite happens. Obama
Minnesota Astonishingly, one new poll in Minnesota actually puts the Romney-Ryan team up by four points in The Gopher State. But this is an outlier. And frankly, I would be shocked if the Minneapolis-St. Paul area were not able to deliver this state to the Democratic candidate. (In fact, if President Obama manages to lose Minnesota, the race will effectively be over; it will be a landslide, in that event.) Obama
North Carolina: I continue to see this as a relatively easy takeaway from the 2008 Obama column. Romney
Oregon: Frankly, I cannot see this as a swing state. But some do, so I am including it here. Like Minnesota, however, it should be an easy win for the Democrat; and, if it is not, we are surely in landslide territory. Obama
Ohio: This is the big one. I do think Democratic intensity is down, as compared with Republican intensity; and that is difficult for polls to measure. Moreover, those polls that show President Obama with a lead in The Buckeye State appear to be assuming an electorate that is somewhat similar to the 2008 electorate; whereas I would imagine it would be a bit closer to the 2004 electorate. So I am predicting a mild upset here. Romney
If these predictions prove correct, it would amount to 295 electoral votes for Gov. Romney, versus 243 electoral votes for President Obama.
I should note, however, that many of the above states remain too close to call with any real degree of certainty; I have simply attempted to call every state, so as to leave none undecided. And I would be rather surprised if I were to be proven correct in 100 percent of those cases.
For the record, I am a Romney supporter; so those who wish to take my predictions with a grain of salt should certainly not feel inhibited about doing so.
Still, I have attempted to make some serious calls here. Within just over 48 hours, we will all know how I did; so I have no desire to go on record with predictions that I would regard as unlikely to be verified Tuesday.