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- Mitt Romney
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AP Analysis: As The Race Stands, Obama Within Reach Of Second Term
Updated: Sunday, September 30 2012, 10:57 PM CDT
(AP) Five weeks to Election Day, President Barack Obama is within reach of the 270 electoral votes needed to win a second term. Republican Mitt Romney's path to victory is narrowing.
To overtake Obama, Romney would need to quickly gain the upper hand in nearly all of the nine states where the competition between the two candidates is the most intense.
Romney's running mate Paul Ryan says there's time for the GOP ticket to win. "In these kinds of races people focus near the end, and that's what's happening now," he told "Fox News Sunday."
If the election were held today, an Associated Press analysis shows Obama would win at least 271 electoral votes, with likely victories in crucial Ohio and Iowa along with 19 other states and the District of Columbia. Romney would win 23 states for a total of 206.
To oust the Democratic incumbent, Romney would need to take up-for-grabs Florida, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia, which would put him at 267 votes, and upend Obama in either Ohio or Iowa.
The Associated Press analysis is intended to provide a snapshot of a race that, until recently, has been stubbornly close.
It is based on a review of public and private polls, television ads and numerous interviews with campaign and party officials as well as Republican and Democratic strategists in the competitive states and in Washington.
In the final weeks before the Nov. 6 vote, Obama is enjoying a burst of momentum and has benefited from growing optimism about the economy as well as a series of Romney stumbles. Most notably, a secret video surfaced recently showing the Republican nominee telling a group of donors that 47 percent of Americans consider themselves victims dependent on the government. To be sure, much could change in the coming weeks, which will feature three presidential and one vice presidential debate. A host of unknowns could rock the campaign, knocking Obama off course and giving Romney a boost in the homestretch.
Barring that, Romney's challenge is formidable.
Romney has seen his standing slip in polls in Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, and Iowa, with six.
That forced him to abandon plans to try to challenge Obama on traditionally Democratic turf so he could redouble his efforts in Ohio and Iowa, as well as Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada and Virginia.
Romney is hoping that come Election Day, on-the-fence voters tip his way. But there are hurdles there, too.
Early voting is under way in dozens of states, and national and key states surveys show undecided voters feel more favorably toward Obama than Romney.
Underscoring his challenges, Romney also has been forced to spend millions of dollars a week defending himself in North Carolina, a GOP-leaning state that's more conservative than most of the states that will decide the election.
Polls now show a competitive race there.
Democrats boast of having registered 250,000 new voters in the state since April 2011.
That is an eye-popping total in a state that Obama won by just 14,000 votes four years ago.
Also, Romney's effort to challenge Obama in Democratic-leaning Wisconsin, home state of his running mate appears to have fizzled.
Despite millions of dollars spent on TV in the last few weeks by both sides, polls show Obama with a clear lead in Wisconsin.