By Staff Reporter, EnStarz | Oct 23, 2012 10:38 AM EDT
While nationwide polls regarding the presidential election make for good fodder about who can claim the support of the entire country, the race for the White House happens state by state.
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The Electoral College voting system means candidates must win enough individual states on Election Day to carry 270 electoral votes, which means electoral map projections are among the most reliable ways to forecast who could win on Nov. 6.
CLICK HERE to see which states lean red or blue on the electoral map.
According to national polling firm Rasmussen's current data, President Barack Obama is ahead in electoral votes, but just by a hair. Presently, Rasmussen's map calls 237 electoral votes for Obama and 235 for Romney, with 66 votes still remaining a toss-up.
But many of the votes current ascribed to either the Democrat or the Republic could easily change hands leading up to Election Day.
The states that can be predicted with certainty tally up to a much lower total. Rasmussen data shows that the states it calls "safe Obama" carry 172 electoral votes, while "safe Romney" states offer 167. The polling firm's breakdown is as follows:
-Safe Obama: 172 electoral votes
-Likely Obama: 38 electoral votes
-Leans Obama: 27 electoral votes
-Toss-up: 66 electoral votes
-Leans Romney: 47 electoral votes
-Likely Romney: 21 electoral votes
-Safe Romney: 167 electoral votes
The votes determined to be "safe Obama" and "safe Romney" are not exactly surprises. Obama is anticipated to carry long-time liberal states like California, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland, while Romney is sure to lock up die-hard red states like Texas, Georgia and Tennessee.
Though Rasmussen's electoral map shows more red states than blue, the states most likely to vote Republican are typically smaller and carry fewer electoral votes, meaning Obama could win with fewer states if he picks up the most valuable ones.
For example, the most valuable "safe Obama" state, California, is worth a whopping 55 electoral votes, while the most valuable "safe Romney" state, Texas, carries 38.
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