The US Presidential election is not a popular vote across the 50 states: the people of the United States elect the electors for the presidential election. The archaic electoral college system (established because of a combination of fears of populism and the lack of good communications infrastructure in the 18th century) has a relative bias to smaller states. Because of the method of the allocation of the electoral college votes, with most states operating on a winner takes all basis (ie: the candidate getting 51 per cent of the popular vote in the state gets 100 per cent of the electoral college vote from that state), there can be a significant disparity between the popular vote and the electoral college outcome.
The current polling suggests that Romney will win the popular vote. He has an average lead of 0.9 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics and 0.5 percentage points in the Huffington Post average.
Yes the state polling averages are clear: Obama leads in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Iowa, and Michigan. Romney leads in Florida and North Carolina. The votes look very close in Virginia, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
If Obama loses both Virginia and Colorado he would still win with over 290 electoral votes.
I also suspect that Hurricane Sandy will favour Obama, especially in Virginia.
So the Democrats who favour the abolition of the electoral college system may yet benefit from it. While the Republicans who benefited in 2000 seem set to find themselves on the wrong side of the ledger.
I hope this prediction does not come to pass – it is better for the elected president to win both the popular vote and the electoral college. Obama does not deserve a second term. But from my reading, I think this result is reasonably likely.