Obama Holds Electoral College Edge as Election Nears

Race Tightening, Romney Can't Afford to Lose Ohio

President Obama will likely defeat Mitt Romney and win a second term in the White House even though the U.S. presidential election race in recent weeks became the tightest it's been in this campaign, the Economist Intelligence Unit said, reiterating a previous forecast.

While the two candidates are running in statistical ties in most national polls, Barack Obama holds an edge in a projected electoral college votes, the group's analysts wrote in a report this week. The electoral college, a winner-take-all system, is "the only metric that really matters" in the presidential election.

"Our forecast of a narrow victory for Mr. Obama is based on his slightly more favorable electoral college permutations," the group said. Nonetheless, "either candidate could still win this race."

Among specific states, Ohio is a crucial battleground. Winning Ohio, whose manufacturing sector benefitted from the 2009 auto industry bailout, "would probably be enough to take Mr. Obama beyond 270 (electoral college) votes and return him to office," the analysts wrote. "Romney, like many Republican presidential candidates before him, can probably not afford to lose Ohio."

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