Two hundred seventy is the number of Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
Most states are not in play. Mr. Obama will not win Utah and Wyoming, and the Republican nominee will not carry the District of Columbia or Rhode Island. But right now 14 states (with 172 electoral votes) are up for grabs.
Mr. Obama narrowly won three traditionally Republican states in 2008: Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina. Democrats last carried the first two in 1964 and the third in 1976.
Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, and Florida, with 29, both went Democratic in 2008 (they went Republican in 2004), but the swing in each was less than the national average. This indicates some weakness for Mr. Obama that has persisted: A recent Quinnipiac University poll in Florida shows the president losing to a generic, unnamed Republican by three points.
There are nine other states that have frequently been battlegrounds in recent contests. There is every reason to believe they will be so again.
According to recent polls (conducted by Public Policy Polling and the polling arms of Suffolk and Quinnipiac universities, the University of New Hampshire, and Dartmouth College), Mr. Obama trails former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in New Hampshire (four electoral votes), and he leads a generic, unnamed Republican by only one point in Pennsylvania (20 votes), a state he carried last time by over 10%. He leads a Republican (both unnamed and named) in the Midwest states of Michigan (16 electoral votes), Wisconsin (10), Iowa (six), and Minnesota (10)âbut with less than 50%.
Then there are Western battlegrounds: Colorado (nine electoral votes), New Mexico (five) and Nevada (six). Mr. Obama leads in the first two with more than 50%âalbeit in polls by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm that tends to be more generous to its party’s candidates. But in Nevada, Mr. Obama trails Mr. Romney in a poll conducted by the same firm.
The 2012 presidential election is likely to be decided in 14 states. If Mr. Obama loses the three states he narrowly carried in 2008 plus Ohio and Florida, then the GOP would win back the White House by swiping any one of the nine remaining battlegrounds. This is a good place for the party to be right now.