NBC/WSJ today has a poll out that shows President Obama and Mitt Romney tied at 47% among likely voters. Among the larger universe of registered voters, Obama leads by 5, 49% to 44%.
How does this compare to the last incumbent's reelection campaign in 2004?
Well, luckily we can do an apples to apples comparison because there was an NBC/WSJ poll released on Oct. 20, 2004.
That poll showed President Bush and John Kerry tied at 48% (almost exactly mirroring today's poll).
In that poll, just as in today's, the incumbent led among registered voters.
But there are differences:
In the 2004 poll, Bush led among registered voters by 2 pts, 48% to Kerry's 46%.
In today's poll, Obama leads among registered voters by 5 pts, 49% to Romney's 44%.
Bush ended up winning reelection by 1.5%, slightly less than his registered voter lead of 2%.
(This also proves that the race does not necessarily break to the challenger).
If (and it's a big "if") this election follows that template, Obama would win reelection by about 3-4%. But I won't even be that optimistic. Let's assume there's a 2 point tilt towards Republicans because of "enthusiasm". Obama would still win by 1-2%, matching Nate Silver's prediction all along that this race would settle down to Obama +2%.
As far as the electoral college, this is my base map:
Regarding Nevada, Jon Ralston is doing some good work and predicts a clear Obama victory.
With this map, all Obama needs to win is Ohio. Game Over.
If he doesn't win Ohio, he needs Virginia + any other state.
If he doesn't win VA or OH, he needs 3 states (CO, IA, NH?).
If all else fails, he can just win Florida. :-)
The point is, there are many electoral paths to victory for Obama.