Mitt Romney is ahead by a single percentage point in Ohio – the swing state that many believe could decide the election, according to internal polling data provided to MailOnline by a Republican party source.
Internal campaign polling completed last night by campaign pollster Neil Newhouse has Romney three points up in New Hampshire, two points up in Iowa and dead level in Wisconsin and – most startlingly – Pennsylvania.
If the Romney campaign’s internal numbers are correct – and nearly all independent pollsters have come up with a picture much more favourable for Obama – then the former Massachusetts governor will almost certainly be elected 45th U.S. President.
Internal polls show Romney trailing in Nevada, reflected in a consensus among senior advisers that Obama will probably win the state.
Early voting in Nevada has shown very heavy turnout in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County and union organisation in the state is strong.
Romney is to campaign in Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on election day, reflecting the tightness of the race in Ohio and the tantalising prospect of success in Pennsylvania, which has not gone Republican in a presidential campaign for 24 years.
Despite the Romney campaign’s optimism, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on the evening before the election gave Obama a slim lead, with 50 per cent for the President compared to 47 per cent for his challenger.
Nearly all public polling put Obama ahead in Ohio by whisker at least. The RealClearPolitics average of polls there gives the president a 2.8 per cent advantage.
But the Romney campaign insists that pollsters have their models wrong and are overestimating Democratic turnout and underestimating Republican enthusiasm.
Polls by Gallup and Rasmussen today both gave Romney 49 per cent of the national vote, ahead of Obama on 48 per cent.
The most dramatic shift in the Romney campaign’s internal polling has been in Wisconsin, which has moved from being eight points down to pulling level. President Barack Obama is campaigning in the state on the eve of election day.
Despite the Obama campaign’s insistence that Romney’s late decision to contest Pennsylvania is an act of ‘desperation’, former President Bill Clinton – Obama’s most valuable ally on the stump – is holding four eve-of-election events there.
A surprise Romney win in Pennsylvania, which has 20 of the 270 electoral college votes needed for victory, would almost certainly be a fatal blow to Obama’s re-election hopes.
If Romney took Wisconsin, that would offer him a credible path to victory without winning Ohio.
The Romney campaign believes that both Florida, Virginia and North Carolina – all of which Obama won in 2008 – are ‘done’ for the Democratic incumbent, as one senior adviser put it.
Many Republicans party officials are less bullish about Pennsylvania and Wisconsin than the Romney campaign, believing their nominee will probably fall short there, setting up a showdown in Ohio, which has 18 electoral college votes and decided the 2004 election for President George W. Bush.
How the Romney campaign believes it can win the Presidency
Based on conversations with the Romney campaign, including a frank discussion with a senior Romney adviser, here’s how they see the Republican nominee winning.
Of course, campaign aides spin reporters because they want their optimistic scenarios to become part of a media narrative that helps drive voters. They are also part of a self-reinforcing campaign bubble in which belief in eventual victory is a prerequisite of getting through grueling days.
But the adviser quoted here, for what it is worth, correctly identified to me weeks beforehand that the first debate would be a game-changing moment for Romney, has always predicted a very close race and is honest enough to identify states such as Nevada which Romney probably won’t win.
If we look at the 2008 electoral college map, when Obama beat Senator John McCain by an electoral college landslide of 365 to 173 (and seven percentage points in the popular vote), we can view the terrain on which the 2012 contest is being fought.
States of the nation: How the voting battleground could shape up coast to coast according to a round up of the latest polls
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