8 Electoral States to Watch

FLORIDA (29 electoral votes) FLORIDA (29 electoral votes)

Perhaps best known for bringing the term “hanging chad” into the national lexicon, the Sunshine State carried George W. Bush to victory in 2000 by a razor-thin margin of 537 votes following a lengthy statewide recount. The state has been an electoral prize ever since, and although President Obama cached Florida’s 29 electoral votes in 2008, recent polling has former Gov. Romney up by about 1 percent. Polls close at 8 p.m. Eastern.

OHIO (18 electoral votes) OHIO (18 electoral votes)

What’s round on the sides, “hi” in the middle, and probably the biggest battleground of all in 2012? Ohio. Obama carried the state in 2008, and holds a narrow 2 percent lead going into election day, according to polling averages. A factoid surely not lost on Gov. Romney: No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio, making the state’s 18 electoral votes all the more precious. Polls close at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

VIRGINIA (13 electoral votes) VIRGINIA (13 electoral votes)

Although historically a “red” state, Virginia—and its 13 electoral votes—flipped blue for Obama in 2008, the first time the state went to a Democratic candidate since 1964. However, the state currently has a Republican governor and is home to several large military bases, which may carry Romney over the edge. Romney holds a narrow 0.5-1 percent lead in Virginia and a double-digit lead among military families, polling data show. Polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern.

WISCONSIN (10 electoral votes) WISCONSIN (10 electoral votes)

The opposite of Virginia, Wisconsin is a typically “blue” state. However, the president’s once double-digit lead there has shrunk to just four points, polls show. Add that decline to the fact that Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan is a Wisconsin native, and the state’s 10 electoral votes may belong to the Republican ticket in 2012. Polls close at 9 p.m. Eastern.

COLORADO (9 electoral votes) COLORADO (9 electoral votes)

Although Coloradans gave their nine electoral votes to Obama in 2008, polls show the president currently leading in the state by less than 1 percent. Polls close at 9 p.m. Eastern.

IOWA (6 electoral votes) IOWA (6 electoral votes)

Returns in other battleground states with earlier poll closings may render Iowa’s six electoral votes moot. Still, in a tight national race with less than 2 percent separating Obama and Romney in the state, both candidates have made a big play to win there. After supporting Obama in its 2008 Democratic caucuses, Iowa stayed with Obama in the general election. Polls close at 10 p.m. Eastern.

NEVADA (6 electoral votes) NEVADA (6 electoral votes)

The desert sun isn’t the only thing making voters sweat in Nevada—it’s also the double-digit unemployment and high mortgage foreclosures. These two economic issues likely will be top of mind for Nevada voters when they go into the booth, with six electoral votes up for grabs. Average polls show Obama leading by just 2.4 percent in the state. Polls close at 10 p.m. Eastern.

NEW HAMPSHIRE (4 electoral votes) NEW HAMPSHIRE (4 electoral votes)

Romney and Obama have left no stone unturned, and have been grinding it out in the Granite State for its four electoral votes. Just a 1 percent margin separates the two. Polls close at 8 p.m. Eastern.