Romney's immediate challenge is to bring Florida, Virginia and North Carolina back into his party's column. (Barack Obama flipped all three from Republican to Democratic in 2008.) If he can get those states to start leaning his way, the two candidates will be in an all-out brawl for Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa.To be sure, several states we have placed as leaning in President Obama's direction are traditional presidential battlegrounds and are not assured victories for him. New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania will all require hard work on the president's part to keep in his column, and the Romney campaign will certainly try to contest each one of those states at the outset.
A poll out of Arizona this week shows that state may be truly in play this cycle, but until we see a commitment from the Obama campaign to stay and play there all the way through November we see it still leaning in Romney's direction.
This election is almost certainly going to be decided based on how Americans feel about Obama's stewardship of the economy and the plans each candidate puts forth for how best to continue the recovery in the years ahead. It is quite easy to see how economic pessimism among the electorate could quickly (and aggressively) tip this map in Mitt Romney's direction.
However, at the starting point of this general election season, Romney has a much tougher lift to put enough states in his column to reach the magic number of 270.
More popular Yahoo! News stories:
Want more of our best political stories? Visit The Ticket or connect with us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or add us on Tumblr. Handy with a camera? Join our Election 2012 Flickr group to submit your photos of the campaign in action.