Political writers and pundits in the US like to bang on about "swing states" based on pre-polling surveys but I think that this US Presidential campaign will be won and lost on the decision of just two states, namely Florida and California.
Owing to the way that the voting system works, votes are weighted on a state by state basis through something called the Electoral College, with more Electoral College votes allocated to the more populous states. There are 538 in total with 269 required for majority and hence to win office. For the 2012 election, California gets 55 electoral college votes and Florida gets 28.
Because Electoral College votes are usually allocated on a winner takes all basis for a state, winning a state has the result that votes are not won by the opposition. If we use the 2008 results as a basis for predicting the result of 2012, then this is what I think will happen. I will however place a caveat on this.
The big problem that I have in trying to pick a result this far out is that depending on the news source, the poll results tend to be self-serving and biased. Finding a truly objective picture is somewhat difficult.
After looking at surveys in the New York Times, CNN, Fox News, PBS, the BBC and AC Nielsen, I took a simple tally and came up with a total picture. I then plugged those numbers into PBS's handy predictor and came up with this:
Based on the 2008 results with the redistrubured electoral college numbers, Obama would be on 347 and Romney would be on 191.
Since 2008, Florida has elected republican Rick Scott to be its Governor; given that Florida has an increasingly disenchanted Hispanic population who in '08 voted for Obama but in '12 probably will not bother to turn out, Florida is likely to flip to red.
California is a strange thing. After the former Republican Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger ended his term, Californians elected Democrat Jerry Brown who has previously been Govenor from 1975-83. The thing is though that California as a state is suffering from lack of infrastructure and a mounting debt crisis; because people have a tendancy to want to "punish" political parties by voting the opposite party into federal politics, Californians are likely to also flip to red.
Assuming every other state in the Union voted exactly the same way as it did in 2008 (which isn't likely, given that the American people are angry at government and are more likely not to turn out to vote), then just these two states flipping would be enough to put Obama on 263 and Romney on 275 and thus the Presidency.
Personally I think that a Romney presidency is worse for the world at large, because I can conceivably see him taking the country to war against Iran for reasons yet to be invented, so this is more of a dispassionate expectation of what will happen than what I'd like.
And to be honest, as someone who isn't American, doesn't live there and doesn't vote, what I'd like is worth bupkiss.