I recently heard a piece on the radio addressing President Obama's re-election prospects and whether he'll capture key swing states that he won in 2008. Florida and Ohio were the two on which the program focused--the conventional wisdom as I remembered it was that a Democrat couldn't win without at least one and perhaps both of those states.

A bit of research reminded me that the 2008 contest wasn't as close as I'd remembered (I was probably thinking of 2004 and the swing of 60k or so votes that would have spared us a second dose of George W. Bush). In fact, Obama's margin over John McCain was a relatively secure 192 electoral votes (365-173). The GOP nominee will need to capture 97 of these EVs to claim the prize.

In short, Obama could give up both FL and OH and still cruise to a second term. Of course, those won't be the only two states in play. Here's the list of states that Obama won in 2008 and might arguably lose this time around (you won't see MA or HI on this list, for instance), ranked by margin of victory starting with the thinnest. I've included electoral votes for each state and a cumulative total to provide an idea of how much the Bush economy and general GOP intransigence might hurt the President without sinking his re-election.

NC [50% Obama-50% McCain] (15 electoral votes)
IN [50%-49%] (11 EVs, cumulative 26 EVs)
FL [51%-48%] (29 EVs, cumulative 55)
OH [51%-47%] (18 EVs, cumulative 73)
VA [53%-46%] (13 EVs, cumulative 86)
NH [54%-45%] (3 EVs, cumulative 89)
CO [54%-45%] (9 EVs, cumulative 98)
MN [54%-44%] (10 EVs, cumulative 108)

A cursory examination of this list would suggest that if Obama were to lose the 98 EVs represented by NC through CO, he'd come up short. But if I'm not mistaken, CO assigns its electoral votes proportionally, meaning that an Obama loss of less than 77%-23% would keep Romney's total below the magic 270 number, and therefore require he capture MN as well.

Several additional considerations:
- It's of course possible that states with a larger 2008 margin for Obama than 10% might go to Romney in 2012
- Might some of the narrow McCain wins (MO at 50-50, 10 EVs; MT at 50-47, 3 EVs) swing Obama's way?

So, my question: do people think that Obama can hold onto the Presidency, or will it change hands?

Sources:
- http://www.npr.org
- http://en.wikipedia.org