US Presidential Election: Seven days to go, where do we stand?

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With just one week to go until America elects its President, Mike Robb assesses the Betfair Markets. He also explains why Barack Obama's handling of Hurricane Sandy might have boosted his chances of re-election...

The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh says Sandy is a “disaster for New York – and a priceless gift for Barack Obama”, and many stateside seem to agree. That Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie came out in support of the President’s “outstanding” leadership says much about how it is being received across the pond.

After two years on the campaign trail, just seven days remain for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to convince voters thattheirs is the right vision for the world's biggest economy over the next four years. And it appears tight, both in terms of the national popular vote and when you immerse yourself in the more complex maths (or math) of the Electoral College.

Nate Silver, who predicted the 2008 results almost to the letter, currently gives Obama a 73% chance of winning a second term, and a 295 to 243 Electoral College win.

The RealClearPolitics polling average gives Mitt Romney a 48 to 47% lead in the popular vote nationally, but when swing states are taken into account it shows an Obama victory of 290 to 248 in the Electoral College.

So tight is the Electoral College arithmetic that no state has been left without attention in this election cycle. New Hampshire, with just four College votes, has as full-blown a campaign as any of the swing states, simply by virtue that those four could be the difference between a President Obama or a President Romney come January. It was pointed out that in 2000 had the 1.3 million pesky voters in New Hampshire plumped for Al Gore and awarded him their four Electoral College votes, the world would never have seen a President George W. Bush. Its importance, therefore, should not be understated.

Obama currently leads by two percent in New Hampshire. In other swing states the picture is mixed. Florida and Ohio are split, with Romney ahead in the former and Obama in the latter, but this lead is said to be closing. In Virginia and Colorado latest polling shows a dead heat, but the President has leads in Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and North Carolina, which is where the Electoral College victory comes from.

The Betfair market gives President Obama a 68 percent chance of re-election, [1.46] in the market to Romney on [3.1]. Looking at the key swing state markets on Betfair, the following picture presents itself:

• Colorado: Obama [1.93]
• Iowa: Obama [1.5]
• Wisconsin: Obama [1.33]
• Ohio: Obama [1.46]
• Virginia: Obama [1.81]
• New Hampshire: Obama [1.55]
• Florida: Romney [1.48]
• North Carolina: Romney [1.31]

Just two of eight show Romney as favourite, and whilst some of these Betfair markets are extremely close, if this picture were to be replicated in a week's time Obama would win by 305 to 235.

Finally, we have a curve ball in the shape of Hurricane Sandy. Reports thus far around how the President has handled the crisis look very positive. The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh says Sandy is a "disaster for New York - and a priceless gift for Barack Obama", and many stateside seem to agree. That Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, who was considered a potential Republican nominee for this year's race, came out in support of the President's "outstanding" leadership says much about how it is being received across the pond.

So the polls, Betfair markets and likes of Nate Silver all point to an Obama victory next week, and, so far, Hurricane Sandy appears tobe a positive for the President. Yes, much can happen in a week, and yes, the polls and markets are both equally close in key swing states, but perhaps [1.46] looks a good price at this stage after all.

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