US election: Predict the president

Who will win the race to be president? In the presidential election each state is worth a number of votes, based on its population, and if the race is close it could come down to a single state. The winner is the candidate who secures 270 votes or more. The bar below shows the votes that are considered safe for each candidate and, in the middle, the battleground states that could be won by either side. Explore what might happen in the election and compare your prediction with those of the experts.

How do you call it?

Click on the states in the map - or the bar - and then use the buttons to call each state for the candidate you think will win there. The grey states are the battlegrounds where the election is closest.

Fill in all the grey states to complete your prediction, then call it if you want to share your result.

Click on 'Expert predictions' to see how your map matches up to those in the know.

It takes 270 to be president
Click on any state to begin

State information
Maine and Nebraska can divide the vote between candidates (though it's only happened once). Click here to split the vote

Your call for 2012:

Obama win Romney win

Your call for 2012:

Statewide popular vote, 1 vote

Obama win Romney win

Congressional district popular vote, 3 votes

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Mark Mardell

BBC North America editor Last updated: 24 September 2012
This is a highly unscientific, licking a finger and sticking it in the air to feel the wind sort of a guess - a combination of the mood I've found in the states I have been to (something about Florida makes it seem more hostile to Barack Obama than Nevada, for instance) and casting a jaundiced eye over the current individual state opinion polls.

I don't think President Obama's post-convention bounce will last. But I've long said the key to the result is whether the Democrats can get their vote out - persuade people who aren't Republicans but feel let down, to go to the polls.

Turn-out is really hard to forecast, simply because many people don't decide whether or not to get off the couch until the big day itself.

Mark Mardell is the BBC's North American Editor.

Katty Kay

Presenter, World News America Last updated: 30 October 2012
So I've revised several states and put them in Romney's column - either a rational response to the first debate fallout, or spineless following of the national polls.

My maths still gives President Obama a win but it's razor thin and may depend on something as unlikely as New Hampshire playing kingmaker.

You're bored of hearing this, I know, but yes it does still come down to Ohio. I was there last week and my impression is the auto bailout still gives Mr Obama a lead there.

Of course if he loses Ohio, we're looking at a very different tally.

Katty Kay has been a BBC correspondent in London, Japan and for the Africa Service of BBC World Service radio. She is now the presenter of BBC World News America.

Rick Wilson

Republican political strategist Last updated: 19 October 2012
2008 was an electoral outlier, representing Barack Obama's complete dominance of the airwaves, economic chaos, and John McCain's feckless, terrible campaign.

Public polling to date has modelled performance for President Obama at or above 2008 levels, which is unsupported.

A challenging but realistic path to victory for Mitt Romney - President Obama loses his 2008 pick-ups of Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Colorado, and Iowa. Wisconsin is in Mitt Romney's column - highly motivated Republican base there is on a roll.

Even if one cedes Pennsylvania and Ohio (though I am increasingly optimistic about Ohio) to President Obama, Mr Romney wins 277 to 261.

Rick Wilson is a Republican political strategist and media consultant with more than 20 years of experience in national and state-wide candidate campaigns.

Drew Linzer

Assistant Professor of Political Science Last updated: 19 October 2012
President Obama is a not-unpopular first-term incumbent during a period of moderate economic growth.

Based on historical election patterns, he should receive about 52% of the national, major-party vote - or about 1-2% less than in 2008.

I apply a statistical model that further refines this baseline forecast using current state-level polling data.

With polls showing President Obama leading in every state he won in 2008 except Indiana and North Carolina, my model indicates that he is on track for re-election.

Drew Linzer is an assistant professor of political science at Emory University, and a 2012-13 visiting assistant professor at the Stanford University Center on democracy, development, and the rule of law.

Norman Ornstein

Political columnist and analyst Last updated: 19 October 2012
If the election were held today, I believe President Obama would carry all his 2008 electoral votes except Indiana, Nebraska's second congressional district, and North Carolina.

I also believe that New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida are very much in play. They're not quite toss-ups. Virginia and Florida are tilting a bit to Romney and New Hampshire to Obama, but none are secure, especially given the voter suppression efforts [disenfranchising poor and minority voters] in Florida and a bit in New Hampshire.

But all this is subject to revision of course as events unfold.

Norman Ornstein is a long-time observer of Congress and politics. He writes a weekly column for Rollcall.com called Congress Inside Out and is an election analyst for CBS News. He served as co-director of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project.

Emily Maitlis

Presenter, BBC Newsnight Last updated: 31 October 2012
With polls extremely close, the fascinating scenario of a dead heat comes into play. It has never happened before, and remains very unlikely, but could unfold like this.

If Barack Obama wins the key swing states Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin - but Mitt Romney takes all the other swing states including Nevada - both would finish on 269 electoral college votes each, a tie.

This would trigger a rash of legal challenges and counter challenges. If the stalemate continued it would fall to the newly-elected House of Representatives to pick a winner. Each state has one vote and the first candidate to win 26 states is declared president.

This scenario would probably favour Mitt Romney, who is likely to win a greater number of states than President Obama. But an election decided this way would be very controversial.

Emily Maitlis will be presenting the BBC's US 2012 results programme alongside David Dimbleby.

Colorado, 9 votes

Colorado is, on average, the highest state above sea level, with more than 1,000 Rocky Mountain peaks over 10,000ft high

Colorado, like other western states with growing Hispanic populations, has been trending towards the Democrats in recent years, having previously been regarded as a solidly Republican state. After three presidential elections in a row where Republican candidates won here, in 2008 Barack Obama took the state for the Democrats.

But the state is by no means safe for Democrats, as the Republicans demonstrated in 2010 by picking up two House seats. Only strong challenges that year from third-party candidates prevented them form also winning a Senate seat and the state governorship. Democratic voters are concentrated in the cities of Denver and Boulder, while Republicans dominate rural counties and the Colorado Springs area, which is a bastion of religious and social conservatism. The fast-growing Denver suburbs are a key battleground.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 70.00%White
  • 3.80%Black
  • 20.70%Hispanic
  • 5.40%Other

ECONOMY

$56,334 median annual income 11.20% poverty rate 8.00% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 8.40%
    2000republican win
  • 4.70%
    2004republican win
  • 8.90%
    2008democrat win

Colorado, 9 votes

Colorado is, on average, the highest state above sea level, with more than 1,000 Rocky Mountain peaks over 10,000ft high

Colorado, like other western states with growing Hispanic populations, has been trending towards the Democrats in recent years, having previously been regarded as a solidly Republican state. After three presidential elections in a row where Republican candidates won here, in 2008 Barack Obama took the state for the Democrats.

But the state is by no means safe for Democrats, as the Republicans demonstrated in 2010 by picking up two House seats. Only strong challenges that year from third-party candidates prevented them form also winning a Senate seat and the state governorship. Democratic voters are concentrated in the cities of Denver and Boulder, while Republicans dominate rural counties and the Colorado Springs area, which is a bastion of religious and social conservatism. The fast-growing Denver suburbs are a key battleground.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 70.00%White
  • 3.80%Black
  • 20.70%Hispanic
  • 5.40%Other

ECONOMY

$56,334 median annual income 11.20% poverty rate 8.00% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 8.40%
    2000republican win
  • 4.70%
    2004republican win
  • 8.90%
    2008democrat win

Florida, 29 votes

Nicknamed the Sunshine State, Florida is famous for its beaches and as the home of tourist attractions such as Disney World

Florida, the archetypal swing state, has voted for the winner of the presidential election in every contest since 1996. In 2000, the race between George W Bush and Al Gore was so close it led to calls for a recount that ended only when the Supreme Court controversially ordered a halt to it.

The state is a demographic melting pot: white Protestants in the north and Cuban-Americans in the south lean Republican, while urban voters in Miami and Tampa, Jewish retirees in Palm Beach and non-Cuban Hispanics lean Democrat. While immigration is a key issue for the Hispanic voters, and Israel and healthcare for the retirees, the economy will still be the most important issue for most voters, in a state that was hit hard by the housing crash.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 57.90%White
  • 15.20%Black
  • 22.50%Hispanic
  • 4.30%Other

ECONOMY

$47,051 median annual income 13.10% poverty rate 8.70% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 0.00%
    2000republican win
  • 5.00%
    2004republican win
  • 2.80%
    2008democrat win

Iowa, 6 votes

Iowa is named after the Ioway people but is nicknamed the Hawkeye State as a tribute to Chief Black Hawk, the leader of another American Indian tribe, the Sauk.

Iowa, famous for holding the first caucus in the presidential selection process, swung narrowly between the Democrats and Republicans in 2000 and 2004, but gave Barack Obama a more solid majority in 2008.

The open farmland in the west of the state, home to many of Iowa's famous rolling corn fields, tends to favour Republicans, while the cities in the centre and east - including state capital Des Moines and college town Iowa City - are friendlier territory for Democrats. The importance of agriculture to Iowa, with its many pig farmers, as well as its corn lobby, means that subsidies for farmers are usually popular here.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 88.70%White
  • 2.90%Black
  • 5.00%Hispanic
  • 3.50%Other

ECONOMY

$48,457 median annual income 12.40% poverty rate 5.20% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 0.30%
    2000democrat win
  • 0.70%
    2004republican win
  • 9.50%
    2008democrat win

Michigan, 16 votes

Nicknamed the Great Lake State, Michigan is the home of the American automobile industry focused around the city of Detroit

Although Michigan has stayed in the Democrats' column in every presidential election since 1992, George W Bush lost here only narrowly in 2000 and 2004, and the Republicans have a history of success in state-wide elections.

Michigan is in the so-called Rust Belt, once the country's manufacturing heartland, but suffering from serious unemployment since heavy industry began to decline in the 1980s. The big issue in Michigan will be the economy, and specifically President Obama's decision to provide government loans to two of the Big Three car manufacturers in 2009 when they were facing liquidation, a move opposed by many Republicans as an example of government interference. Democrats say that the loans helped to save the companies, and safeguard thousands of jobs.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 76.60%White
  • 14.00%Black
  • 4.40%Hispanic
  • 4.90%Other

ECONOMY

$47,461 median annual income 14.10% poverty rate 9.30% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 5.10%
    2000democrat win
  • 3.40%
    2004democrat win
  • 16.50%
    2008democrat win

Minnesota, 10 votes

Star of the North is the state motto of Minnesota, a centre of Scandinavian American culture with its strong Swedish and Norwegian heritage

Minnesota has consistently voted for Democratic presidential candidates since 1972, even in 1984, when every other state in the US voted for Ronald Reagan. But George W Bush only narrowly lost the state in both 2000 and 2004, and Republicans have been very competitive in state-wide elections taking the governor's mansion in 2006, and coming within 10,000 votes of repeating the trick in 2010.

As in the rest of the country, jobs and the economy are likely to be the main political issue in Minnesota, especially in the industrial cities of Minneapolis, St Paul and Duluth. But Minnesota has often taken a distinctive political course from the rest of the US and third-party candidates have regularly been successful here.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 83.10%White
  • 5.10%Black
  • 4.70%Hispanic
  • 6.90%Other

ECONOMY

$56,704 median annual income 10.60% poverty rate 5.80% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 2.40%
    2000democrat win
  • 3.50%
    2004democrat win
  • 10.20%
    2008democrat win

Nevada, 6 votes

Called the Silver State because of its large silver mine industries, Nevada's most famous landmark is Las Vegas

Nevada is something of a bellwether state, having voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election from 1980 onwards. Barack Obama won by a comfortable margin here in 2008, however, and the Democrats will be hoping that he can repeat his success in 2012. The state has a large and growing Hispanic population, so immigration is a crucial issue for many here.

Nevada has been badly affected by the economic crisis, with unemployment soaring to 15% in 2010. As a result, Democrats saw their margins eroded in Reno and Las Vegas in the midterms. Obama should win in the city of Las Vegas and Romney in the suburbs, but Reno and the rest of the state, which is dotted with ranches and military bases, could go either way.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 54.10%White
  • 7.70%Black
  • 26.50%Hispanic
  • 11.50%Other

ECONOMY

$55,322 median annual income 9.40% poverty rate 11.80% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 3.50%
    2000republican win
  • 2.60%
    2004republican win
  • 12.50%
    2008democrat win

New Hampshire, 4 votes

Nicknamed the Granite State for its many quarries, the famous Old Man of the Mountain rock formation is still considered the state symbol, despite having collapsed in 2003

New Hampshire is a liberal state that has had a surprising tendency to vote for Republicans over the years. Although Barack Obama won in New Hampshire with a solid majority, George W Bush won here in 2000, and in the 2010 midterms the Republicans took a Senate seat and both congressional districts. Mitt Romney's background as governor of neighbouring Massachusetts could help him win the state back for the Republicans.

The state is proud of its "first in the nation" primary, and voters here like to vet the presidential candidates in person at local events. It has always had an independent, anti-government ethos, and its low state taxes have attracted plenty of successful businesses

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 92.30%White
  • 1.00%Black
  • 2.80%Hispanic
  • 3.70%Other

ECONOMY

$62,629 median annual income 8.70% poverty rate 5.70% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 1.30%
    2000republican win
  • 1.40%
    2004democrat win
  • 9.60%
    2008democrat win

New Mexico, 5 votes

The Zia, a Native American symbol for the Sun, features on the state flag and New Mexico has the second-highest percentage of Native American inhabitants in the US

New Mexico saw knife-edge results in 2000 and 2004 - Al Gore won the state by a margin of just 366 votes in 2000, while in 2004, President Bush took it with a majority of fewer than 6,000. But Barack Obama had a thumping 15% majority in 2008, and although Republicans took the governorship in 2010, polls suggest that the Democrats will perform well again here in 2012.

The state divides politically along geographical lines, with Democrats strong in the more urbanised north and Republicans dominant in the south-east, which borders Texas. New Mexico's large Latino population swung behind Barack Obama in 2008, and may well do so again after he enacted legislation to protect the children of illegal immigrants last June. The Republican position on immigration remains at odds with the Latino mainstream.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 40.50%White
  • 1.70%Black
  • 46.30%Hispanic
  • 11.30%Other

ECONOMY

$42,737 median annual income 16.20% poverty rate 6.40% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 0.10%
    2000democrat win
  • 0.80%
    2004republican win
  • 15.10%
    2008democrat win

North Carolina, 15 votes

North Carolina was the location of the Wright Brothers' famous first powered flight, near Kitty Hawk in 1903

North Carolina was for many years a Republican stronghold, but Barack Obama won a slim majority here for the Democrats in 2008. His success can partly be attributed to the demographic changes the state has seen in recent decades.

North Carolina is one the most prosperous and fastest-growing states in the South. In particular, there has been an influx of college-educated workers into the state's much-envied "research triangle" centred on Raleigh and Durham in the heart of North Carolina. Coupled with a massive increase in the state's Hispanic population, on top of the large existing black population, this has given the Democrats a large and growing electoral constituency here.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 65.30%White
  • 21.20%Black
  • 8.40%Hispanic
  • 5.00%Other

ECONOMY

$45,131 median annual income 15.10% poverty rate 9.60% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 12.80%
    2000republican win
  • 12.40%
    2004republican win
  • 0.30%
    2008democrat win

Ohio, 18 votes

The home to seven former presidents, Ohio is sometimes known as the Modern Mother of Presidents, though its most famous son is Thomas Edison, pioneer of the light bulb

The quintessential bellwether state, Ohio has not backed a losing presidential candidate since 1960, so all eyes will be on the state again in 2012 to see if Barack Obama can hold on to his relatively narrow lead. Republicans will be hoping to add the state's electoral college votes to the governorship and Senate seat they won in 2010.

Like its neighbours Michigan and Pennsylvania, Ohio is in America's once-great, but now somewhat faded, industrial heartland, and is still home to world-renowned firms like Procter & Gamble and Goodyear Tires. The recession of 2007-09 was not kind to Ohio, however, so the state of the economy will no doubt be at the forefront of voters' minds on election day.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 81.10%White
  • 12.00%Black
  • 3.10%Hispanic
  • 3.70%Other

ECONOMY

$46,838 median annual income 14.50% poverty rate 7.00% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 3.50%
    2000republican win
  • 2.10%
    2004republican win
  • 4.60%
    2008democrat win

Pennsylvania, 20 votes

Site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and home to the Liberty Bell, Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State

Although Pennsylvania has backed the Democrats in every presidential election since 1992, the races were pretty close here in 2000 and 2004, and with victories in the state's governorship and Senate elections in 2010 under their belt, the Republicans have high hopes of making Pennsylvania competitive again.

Democratic political consultant James Carville famously described Pennsylvania as "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between", which accurately sums up the state's political geography: Democrats dominate in the industrial cities in the east and west, while Republicans perform well in the rural heart of the state. But the economic crisis of the past few years has hit all parts of Pennsylvania, so financial concerns will no doubt dominate the race in November.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 79.50%White
  • 10.40%Black
  • 5.70%Hispanic
  • 4.20%Other

ECONOMY

$50,028 median annual income 13.20% poverty rate 8.20% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 4.20%
    2000democrat win
  • 2.50%
    2004democrat win
  • 10.30%
    2008democrat win

Virginia, 13 votes

Sometimes called Mother of Presidents as many early US presidents were native Virginians, including Thomas Jefferson, whose estate, Monticello, is a national landmark

Like much of the South, Virginia was solidly Democratic from the end of the Civil War until the 1960s, when - unhappy with the Democrats' civil rights reforms - it became a Republican stronghold.

But recent population growth in the leafier suburbs outside Washington DC and increased Hispanic immigration have given the Democrats a boost. Considered alongside the state's historically large black population, these changes make Virginia a bona fide swing state. Barack Obama won a moderate majority here in 2008 (the first Democrat to do so since 1964), and both of the state's senators are currently Democrats. But the Republicans won back the governor's mansion at the end of 2009, and will hope to stay competitive in November's presidential race.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 64.80%White
  • 19.00%Black
  • 7.90%Hispanic
  • 8.20%Other

ECONOMY

$60,539 median annual income 10.40% poverty rate 5.90% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 8.00%
    2000republican win
  • 8.20%
    2004republican win
  • 6.30%
    2008democrat win

Wisconsin, 10 votes

With a badger found on the state coat of arms, its seal, its flag and even in the official state song On, Wisconsin!, Wisconsin is known as the Badger State

The Democrats have won Wisconsin in every presidential election since 1988, but the Republicans lost out by a whisker in 2000 and 2004, and won the governorship and a Senate seat in 2010, so the state has often been competitive.

Barack Obama will be hoping to hold on to the sizeable majority he won in 2008, and will be helped by the state's strong union movement. In June, there was a recall election of the state's Republican Governor, Scott Walker, following mass protests against his proposed restriction to the collective bargaining rights of the unions. However, Walker survived the election and this, coupled with Romney's choice of Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, may threaten Obama's lead.

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • 83.30%White
  • 6.20%Black
  • 5.90%Hispanic
  • 4.60%Other

ECONOMY

$51,257 median annual income 11.50% poverty rate 7.30% unemployment rate

HOW CLOSE WAS IT LAST TIME?

  • 0.20%
    2000democrat win
  • 0.40%
    2004democrat win
  • 13.90%
    2008democrat win

D.C. 3 votes

DC stands out from the rest of the nation not just because it's not a state, but also because its population is a 'minority-majority', with more than 60% of its citizens from minority groups.

DC delivers the kind of margins any candidate would dream of: John Kerry got 89% to George Bush's 9%; Barack Obama got 92% to John McCain's 7%. American politics as we know it would be overturned if DC went red this year.

What were the previous winning margins?

79.8% 2004 Democrat win
85.9% 2008 Democrat win

Hawaii 4 votes

Hawaii is where Barack Obama was born and spent much of his childhood, which accounts for the fact that he carried the state with 72% in the last election - his best showing.

Hawaii is a sure Democratic win.

What were the previous winning margins?

8.8% 2004 Democrat win
45.3% 2008 Democrat win

Vermont 3 votes

Vermont is a very safe bet for Barack Obama, who achieved a whopping 37 point margin in 2008 - second only to his margin in Hawaii.

It is the only state George Bush did not visit during his presidency, possibly due to the fact that in 2007 29 Vermont town meetings voted to impeach him.

What were the previous winning margins?

20.1% 2004 Democrat win
37% 2008 Democrat win

Rhode Island 4 votes

Rhode Island is about as blue as they come; it has not voted for a Republican since 1984. Its large student population guarantees a good showing for President Obama.

A Mitt Romney win would be a huge political upset for the Democrats.

What were the previous winning margins?

20.8% 2004 Democrat win
27.8% 2008 Democrat win

New York 29 votes

New York has been shedding electoral college votes for the past decade, but at 29 votes it remains one of the most important building blocks in the Democrat pile.

And it is reliably Democrat; not only is the state's population famously liberal, but it is also multicultural, with the largest number of African American citizens in the country.

A Mitt Romney win is highly unlikely here.

What were the previous winning margins?

18.3% 2004 Democrat win
26.7% 2008 Democrat win

Massachusetts 11 votes

While it may be logical to think that Massachusetts will vote for its former governor, Mitt Romney, this is solid blue territory.

Known for its liberal outlook, Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples in 2004.

It has only voted Republican three times since 1960.

What were the previous winning margins?

25.2% 2004 Democrat win
25.8% 2008 Democrat win

Maryland 10 votes

Maryland's large African American population overwhelmingly votes Democratic, and so does the rest of the state, with more than twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans.

In 2008 Barack Obama doubled John Kerry's 2004 margin, winning 62% of votes to John McCain's 36%. Turnout will be important, but this is a reliable Democrat win.

What were the previous winning margins?

13% 2004 Democrat win
25.5% 2008 Democrat win

Illinois 20 votes

Illinois might be considered a Democrat safe haven in a region of swing states. It has not all been smooth sailing, with unemployment above the national average in 2009 and 2010.

Yet the Romney team know it would be a waste of resources to contest Illinois, a state that has not voted Republican since 1988. Favourite son Barack Obama can be certain to bag those 20 electoral college votes.

What were the previous winning margins?

10.3% 2004 Democrat win
25.1% 2008 Democrat win

Delaware 3 votes

This tiny state - the second-smallest in area, the sixth-smallest in population - used to be the most accurate bellwether state, voting for every president from 1952 to 1996. But in the last decade it has leaned more consistently towards the Democrats.

The presence of the popular, former Delaware senator, Joe Biden on President Obama's ticket will ensure that in 2012 this remains a firmly blue state.

What were the previous winning margins?

7.6% 2004 Democrat win
25% 2008 Democrat win

California 55 votes

California, America's populous state, experienced a severe recession, with an unemployment rate second only to Nevada.

Nevertheless large Hispanic and immigrant communities have contributed to a Democratic lock on its politics - aside from Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 'Governator'.

John McCain did not target it in 2008, and Mitt Romney's visits tend to focus more on raising funds than votes. It's a very safe Democratic state and the biggest building block in Barack Obama's road to the White House.

What were the previous winning margins?

9.9% 2004 Democrat win
24.1% 2008 Democrat win

Connecticut 7 votes

Connecticut is, unusually, both one of the wealthiest and the most liberal of states. Blue since Bill Clinton, it gave Barack Obama a 22 point margin in 2008.

Mitt Romney may hope for a little of his Massachusetts reputation to trickle through, but he does not stand much chance of carrying the whole state.

What were the previous winning margins?

10.4% 2004 Democrat win
22.4% 2008 Democrat win

Maine 4 votes

Maine has voted Democrat in the last five presidential elections, and gave Barack Obama a 17 point margin in 2008.

Mitt Romney's conservative values and opposition to Medicare are unlikely to go down well here, with liberal tradition and an aging population.

What were the previous winning margins?

9% 2004 Democrat win
17.3% 2008 Democrat win

Washington 12 votes

Having voted Democrat in the last six presidential elections Washington is considered a safe bet for Barack Obama.

The state is split between the parties; liberal bastion Seattle and its suburbs tend to give Democratic candidates enormous margins, whereas the east of the state is deeply Republican.

However, the relative sizes of the two groups tend to give Democrats the advantage, which should give Obama a comfortable margin here in 2012.

What were the previous winning margins?

7.2% 2004 Democrat win
17.2% 2008 Democrat win

Oregon 7 votes

Oregon has voted Democrat since 1988, and can be relied upon to do so again in 2012.

Like California, Oregon is home to some significant Republican donors, which accounts for visits made this year by Mitt Romney more than any electoral hopes.

Any dissatisfaction with President Obama may see his margin dip, but seems unlikely to threaten a Democrat win.

What were the previous winning margins?

4.2% 2004 Democrat win
16.4% 2008 Democrat win

New Jersey 14 votes

New Jersey has leaned Democratic since the mid-1990s, though not with the same conviction as Vermont or Rhode Island.

In 2008, Barack Obama carried it 57% to 42%, the best Democratic result in the state since 1964.

Polls have often put Obama's margin in double figures, so it's a safe bet for the Democrats this year.

What were the previous winning margins?

6.7% 2004 Democrat win
15.6% 2008 Democrat win

Michigan 16 votes

Michigan has voted Democrat in every presidential election since 1992, but the Republicans do well here too. In 2010, Michigan voted in a Republican governor.

President Obama's decision to bail out the auto industry in 2009 has been a crucial campaign tool in this industrial state, despite economic growth remaining weak.

Still, Mitt Romney never made the state a major target and Obama has kept a lead in the polls for the whole campaign.

A Republican win here would probably mean a sweep of the battleground states for Mitt Romney.

What were the previous winning margins?

3.4% 2004 Democrat win
16.5% 2008 Democrat win

New Mexico 5 votes

Key to Barack Obama's 2008 success in this state was securing a large share of Latino and first-time voters.

Republicans did well here in 2010, and have a popular representative in Governor Susana Martinez, but it looks like the presidential result will be a repeat of last time.

All the polls are pointing towards an Obama win and Mitt Romney's campaign has failed to appeal to the Latino population he would need to turn this state round.

What were the previous winning margins?

0.8% 2004 Republican win
15.1% 2008 Democrat win

Minnesota 10 votes

Minnesota has the longest sequence of voting Democrat in presidential elections for any state, but is considered 'winnable' by the Republicans because it was hit so hard by the recession.

However, Minnesota has recently witnessed recovering employment rates and job growth, which could boost Barack Obama's chances.

It would now take serious disillusionment with Obama for this state to swap sides.

What were the previous winning margins?

3.5% 2004 Democrat win
10.2% 2008 Democrat win

Wisconsin 10 votes

Losing Wisconsin would be a serious blow to the Democrats, who have won the state in every election since 1984.

It is certainly in play this election, particularly after Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.

The stand-off between workers' unions and Republican governor Scott Walker, who narrowly survived a recall vote in June, remains fresh in voters' minds.

The state polls all give President Obama a lead, but it's a small lead and Democrats will be watching nervously.

What were the previous winning margins?

0.4% 2004 Democrat win
13.9% 2008 Democrat win

Nevada 6 votes

The key to Nevada is likely to be the economy. Nevada suffered badly in the recession, with unemployment peaking at a staggering 15.3% in January 2010.

Many of those who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 did so because they were concerned about a failing economy, and considering how much worse it was to get, Nevadans may now prefer a new president.

Recent signs of growth have given Obama a slight advantage, but it's still a tossup state.

What were the previous winning margins?

2.6% 2004 Republican win
12.5% 2008 Democrat win

Pennsylvania 20 votes

The 'Keystone state' has been a major battleground in every presidential election since 1976.

The promise of 20 electoral college votes has brought both candidates back again this year, and it seems Mitt Romney's team believe he has a shot at winning it.

President Obama has held a lead in Pennsylvania for the entire campaign but it has narrowed sharply in the final few weeks.

This gives a clear signal of how close the race has become across the board.

What were the previous winning margins?

2.5% 2004 Democrat win
10.3% 2008 Democrat win

New Hampshire 4 votes

New Hampshire is considered a key battleground in 2012 and a potential weak spot for Barack Obama in the North-East.

Mitt Romney has personal associations with the state, in particular a holiday home beside Lake Winnipesaukee, and could win wealthy voters with his promise of low taxes.

As a result, the Obama campaign has been on the offensive and he still holds a slight lead in recent state polls, but it will be a close race.

What were the previous winning margins?

1.4% 2004 Democrat win
9.6% 2008 Democrat win

Iowa 6 votes

In the last two elections Iowa has swung between the two parties, tending to deliver very small margins.

Supposedly won over by the glamour of Barack Obama's campaign in 2008, Iowans may now be questioning the viability of another Democrat term in a volatile economy.

Unlike last time, it's a very close race. If Obama succeeds, it'll be a sign that he still holds sway among average voters.

If Mitt Romney wins, he's probably on his way to the White House.

What were the previous winning margins?

0.7% 2004 Republican win
9.5% 2008 Democrat win

Colorado 9 votes

Winning Colorado was a major boon to the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, topping years of speculation that the once red state was leaning Democratic.

The Obama campaign had heavily targeted the state, holding its Convention in Denver and running a large volunteer programme.

In 2012, heavily targeted once more, it is still considered a toss-up, with Democratic confidence faltering after a drubbing in the mid-terms. It has a slight lean to Obama, but the race will be close.

What were the previous winning margins?

4.7% 2004 Republican win
9% 2008 Democrat win

Virginia 13 votes

In 2008 Barack Obama upended Virginia's 36 years of voting Republican with an enormous operation to bring out new voters, particularly African Americans.

His win there sealed his election. Now, with a faltering economy and healthcare reforms continuing to polarise views, the state was thought to be swinging back to the Republicans.

However, Republican confidence seems to have taken a knock from recent state polls and it's still too close to call. Voter turnout and views on the economy will be key.

What were the previous winning margins?

8.2% 2004 Republican win
6.3% 2008 Democrat win

Ohio 18 votes

Ohio is one of the most decisive swing states of this election.

The key voting bloc will be Ohio's blue collar workers, many of whom are disenchanted by the downturn in manufacturing and job creation in the state.

If Barack Obama wins it a Democratic victory is all but guaranteed; if Mitt Romney triumphs his chances look very weak indeed.

The very model of a toss-up state, all eyes are now on Ohio.

What were the previous winning margins?

2.1% 2004 Republican win
4.6% 2008 Democrat win

Florida 29 votes

Florida will be a high-stakes game for both sides.

It has high African American and Hispanic populations, as well as a large elderly community, and appealing to all of these groups is the key to winning its whopping 29 electoral college votes.

Medicare and job creation are at the centre of the debate in this state, which was hit badly by the 2008 recession.

Mitt Romney needs to win here - hence staging the Convention in Tampa - but it remains a real toss-up.

What were the previous winning margins?

5% 2004 Republican win
2.8% 2008 Democrat win

Indiana 11 votes

Prior to 2008, Democratic candidates had not seriously campaigned in Indiana since the 1940s.

Barack Obama's team decided early on that they could win the state, but they would only do so by getting a high turnout. With an army of 80,000 volunteers behind him, Obama managed to turn this solid Republican state blue.

The feat was remarkable, but it looks like it might be a one-off; the state now leans back towards the Republicans and is a likely MItt Romney win.

What were the previous winning margins?

20.7% 2004 Republican win
1% 2008 Democrat win

North Carolina 15 votes

In 2008 Barack Obama's campaign targeted this traditionally red state early, knowing that North Carolina's large African American population could prove instrumental in carrying the state.

His gamble paid off: John McCain stayed away and Obama got a surprise win. Obama clearly wants North Carolina again; the Democrat Convention was held in Charlotte.

But this is the 'reddest' of the battleground states and, though voter turnout is crucial, it looks to be heading back to the Republicans.

What were the previous winning margins?

12.4% 2004 Republican win
0.3% 2008 Democrat win

Missouri 10 votes

Missouri saw one of the closest of contests in 2008, with John McCain carrying it by just under 4,000 votes.

In theory this is a swing state in 2012, but both candidates have virtually ignored it, perhaps to concentrate resources elsewhere.

It is still up for grabs, but as time passes it leans closer towards Mitt Romney.

What were the previous winning margins?

7.2% 2004 Republican win
0.1% 2008 Republican win

Montana 3 votes

Barack Obama raised eyebrows for targeting the state early in 2008, but the result suggested a rising population of new Democrats.

John McCain only won the state by a slim margin, and Obama managed to get 32% more votes than John Kerry had in 2004. But in 2012 Obama has not campaigned in the state, and the appetite for change may have dimmed.

It is likely to remain a safe Republican bet for 2012.

What were the previous winning margins?

20.5% 2004 Republican win
2.3% 2008 Republican win

Georgia 16 votes

Georgia gave everyone a jolt in 2008 when it gave John McCain just a 5.2% margin of victory, owing to an increased turnout and, as in Virginia and North Carolina, many of these were African Americans.

Yet neither an increased African American vote nor a strong support from registered Democrats will be enough to turn this solidly Republican state blue in 2012.

What were the previous winning margins?

16.6% 2004 Republican win
5.2% 2008 Republican win

South Dakota 3 votes

South Dakota's American Indian population and academic population boost Democrat showings here, but not enough to overcome a strong Republican tradition in the rest of the state.

The margins may look tantalising, but the last time South Dakota voted for a Democrat was in 1964.

It is a safe Republican bet in 2012.

What were the previous winning margins?

21.5% 2004 Republican win
8.4% 2008 Republican win

Arizona 11 votes

The Grand Canyon state has a history of voting Republican, but Democrat analysts believe its growing Hispanic population could put it within reach.

In 2008 home son John McCain did not do as well as expected, but since then a strong Republican performance in the mid-terms has probably put this state beyond Democrat reach.

President Obama's decision to challenge Arizona's immigration law in the Supreme Court will not help. This is now solid Republican territory.

What were the previous winning margins?

10.5% 2004 Republican win
8.5% 2008 Republican win

North Dakota 3 votes

North Dakota was among the solid Republican states that took an interest in Barack Obama in 2008, and voter turnout was high in the Democratic primary.

The state is traditionally hawkish, which may account for John McCain's slim margin, at just eight percentage points - compared to 28 in 2004.

That interest seems to have waned, with polls consistently predicting a double-digit Mitt Romney lead.

What were the previous winning margins?

27.4% 2004 Republican win
8.6% 2008 Republican win

South Carolina 9 votes

This is a solid Republican state, although Barack Obama managed to cause some nerves in the Republican camp in 2008 by slimming the party's advantage.

This is unlikely to be repeated in 2012, with Governor Nikki Haley a prominent Mitt Romney supporter and the assumption that there will be fewer first-time voters.

Even with a large turnout from the African American community the state looks likely to be a solid Romney win.

What were the previous winning margins?

17.1% 2004 Republican win
9% 2008 Republican win

Texas 38 votes

Those with a keen eye on demographic changes are waiting for Texas' Hispanic population to turn the state blue, as in California.

This may happen in the next few decades, but not in 2012.

Republican politics still dominate the state and it is a sure win for Mitt Romney.

What were the previous winning margins?

22.9% 2004 Republican win
11.8% 2008 Republican win

Mississippi 6 votes

A cursory glance at the demographics might suggest that this state could be a target for Barack Obama. Mississippi has the second highest proportion - after Washington DC - of African American citizens in the country, at 37%.

Larger than this, though, is its white evangelical Christian population, who tend to vote Republican.

A polarised vote has historically given Republicans the advantage, and the state has not voted Democrat since 1972.

This is a solid win for Mitt Romney.

What were the previous winning margins?

19.7% 2004 Republican win
13.2% 2008 Republican win

West Virginia 5 votes

Not only has West Virginia voted Republican in the last three elections, but it also gave the Republicans a significantly higher margin than the national average in doing so.

Barack Obama barely targeted the state in 2008 and he looks unlikely to do so this year.

It is a safe Republican bet.

What were the previous winning margins?

12.9% 2004 Republican win
13.1% 2008 Republican win

Nebraska 5 votes

The majority of Nebraskans have voted Republican for the last 50 years. But Nebraska can split its five votes, and in 2008 Barack Obama managed to win a one of those five with a surprise win the second congressional district.

However, recent changes have made that disrict more Republican, and Nebraska is now unlikely to yield anything to the Democrats.

What were the previous winning margins?

33.2% 2004 Republican win
14.9% 2008 Republican win

Kansas 6 votes

Kansas has voted Democrat only once in three quarters of a century, and that was (narrowly) for Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Not only can Mitt Romney be confident of a solid win here, but he is also likely to improve on John McCain's 15% margin in 2008.

What were the previous winning margins?

25.4% 2004 Republican win
15% 2008 Republican win

Tennessee 11 votes

Tennessee was one of four states that gave John McCain an even greater margin than George Bush in 2004.

A Republican tide - steadily rising since 1996 - looks likely to put this state even further out of Barack Obama's reach in 2012.

What were the previous winning margins?

14.3% 2004 Republican win
15.1% 2008 Republican win

Kentucky 8 votes

Kentucky may have voted Democrat in the past, but only for Democrats from the south, like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

In the 2008 primaries, Hillary Clinton did well, indicating that Barack Obama would not stand much of a chance against any Republican. He did not; John McCain took the state with 57% to Obama's 41%.

This is a safe bet for Mitt Romney in 2012 too, not least because his politics will appeal to a traditional dislike of big government in the state.

What were the previous winning margins?

19.9% 2004 Republican win
16.2% 2008 Republican win

Louisiana 8 votes

Louisiana tends to be ignored by the Democrats, given its solid Republican status.

The vote splits along racial lines, with African Americans voting 94% to 4% for Barack Obama and white voters favouring McCain 84% to 14%.

Evangelical Christian candidates generally do well here, but that does not rule out a very impressive showing by Mitt Romney.

What were the previous winning margins?

14.5% 2004 Republican win
18.6% 2008 Republican win

Arkansas 6 votes

Former Governor Bill Clinton remains popular among Arkansas voters, but it will not make them vote Democrat.

Likewise the state's large evangelical Christian population may be wary of Mormonism, but it won't stop them voting Republican.

Already disenchanted with Barack Obama in 2008, the state will give Mitt Romney a significant margin.

What were the previous winning margins?

9.8% 2004 Republican win
19.9% 2008 Republican win

Alabama 9 votes

Alabama has voted Republican since 1980.

Barack Obama does well among the African American community but not enough to even approach the Republican showing.

John McCain won with a 21% margin in 2008. Mitt Romney can be confident of doing similarly.

What were the previous winning margins?

25.6% 2004 Republican win
21.6% 2008 Republican win

Alaska 3 votes

Alaska caused some concern among Republicans in 2008 when Barack Obama actively campaigned in the state and began to match John McCain in the polls.

However the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate pushed the state back into solid Republican territory, where it has stayed ever since.

What were the previous winning margins?

25.5% 2004 Republican win
21.5% 2008 Republican win

Idaho 4 votes

Idaho has a tradition of individualism, disliking big government and preserving a kind of pioneer spirit.

It has voted Republican in the last 11 elections and economic instability during the recession only solidified this relationship.

The 2010 mid-terms sent a clear signal that Republicans would continue to dominate state politics.

Mitt Romney will take this state with a clear margin in November.

What were the previous winning margins?

38.1% 2004 Republican win
25.4% 2008 Republican win

Utah 6 votes

States do not come much more Republican than Utah.

Republican values of small government and individualism chime well with its deeply religious Mormon population, which accounts for around 75% of the population.

Barack Obama made some inroads into this phenomenon among students in 2008, but this time there is a Mormon running for president.

Utah is a dead cert for Mitt Romney.

What were the previous winning margins?

45.5% 2004 Republican win
28.2% 2008 Republican win

Oklahoma 7 votes

Oklahoma is about as solidly Republican as they come.

There are no significant voting blocks that President Obama can tap into.

Mitt Romney may even top John McCain's 31 point margin in 2008.

What were the previous winning margins?

31.1% 2004 Republican win
31.3% 2008 Republican win

Wyoming 3 votes

In 2008 Wyoming gave Barack Obama his lowest percentage of any state, at 33%.

With only three electoral college votes, and sited in a remote corner of the country with deep Republican roots, this will not be a state that will see much campaigning.

Any deviation from a solid Republican win would prompt disbelief.

What were the previous winning margins?

39.8% 2004 Republican win
32.2% 2008 Republican win

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