8:20 am ET
Mitt Romney’s post-debate recovery in the polls should not obscure the reality that he still faces a steep climb in the Electoral College. The race to 270 continues to be President Obama’s most meaningful edge.
Ohio remains a special challenge for the Republicans; Romney and Paul Ryan are both spending time there this weekend and they can’t afford to give up on the state.
But sensible GOPers are looking for a route to victory that doesn’t involve a Buckeye State revival.
Here’s the most likely path for Romney, sans Ohio: He wins the McCain states, plus Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa — losing New Hampshire and Wisconsin, along with Ohio.
Obviously, that means winning six of the nine battleground states, many of which still show significant deficits for the challenger, who also does not boast the same long-built ground game machinery as the incumbent.
This map makes two things clear: Romney’s debate performance hasn’t solved his Electoral College problem, and/but his route to 270 is so, so much harder if he can’t win Ohio.