I normally don’t go “off topic” in my blog but given some of the conversations going on (in some cases quite heatedly) on Facebook and Twitter I’m going to summarize my “independent observer” comments here.  That way I can be a little lazy with my pen and simply link to this blog post in the coming days (hey, a writer is entitled to do that from time to time).

Let me start by saying I don’t think that Ohio is as big a deal as everyone says it is.  Whoa, math geniuses and Buckeye faithful, no disrespect! Your vote is pivotal for whoever wins this race as statistics in the electoral college show (here is the latest ABC News projections showing Ohio as one of the largest and closest of the 8 “swing states.”).  But this year it may not be the state to prompt one of the candidates to write their concession speech and make the phone call to throw in the towel.  The race is simply too close with too many permutations and way too many polls showing that both candidates are out ahead of the other in multiple states.

So here are three reasons why we will still be waiting for the western polls to close even after Ohio and Florida are decided:

  1. Both candidates can win without taking Ohio.  This hasn’t been stated as so for the last three elections.  Particularly for the GOP, Ohio was the pathway to victory.  While it is still very important (am I OK now Buckeye families?), both candidates have a path to victory without Ohio.  It just gets much, much harder for either candidate to win without Ohio (particularly for Gov. Romney).
  2. Hurricane Sandy may delay vote counting … but it won’t matter.  The devastation in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast is mind-boggling.  And while there is a small likelihood that some states could push off the actual election day as long as a week, it won’t matter.  States have ample time to tabulate the vote and certify the vote per their state constitution for the electoral college.  But the fact that Pres. Obama has the Northeast all tied up with a pretty bow (even Gov. Christie from New Jersey can’t carry his own state for Gov. Romney) means that as bad as Sandy was, the impact will be nil for this election.
  3. That leaves … Colorado.  You heard it hear first.  Colorado can be the “next Ohio” and keep east coasters up late on election night.  With the Northeast voting or not, not even a strong “band wagon” effect can change the outcome there.  With the possible exception of New Hampshire, the Northeast is as much a DNC ATM as California is (including Gov. Romney’s former state of Massachusetts).  With the President taking Ohio and the former Governor taking North Carolina, Florida and eeking out a win in either Pennsylvania or Virginia, the rest of the country is in play.  An Iowa-Wisconsin split and we wait two more hours for the polls to close and the exit surveys to come in from Nevada and Colorado.  Colorado is close and they broke GOP in 2000, 2004. 2008 was close (the President won with only 53.5%).  With 9 electoral college votes, Colorado is very very important.

Good luck to both candidates and don’t forget to vote next Tuesday (if you can and if you haven’t already by absentee ballot).