So it's been 17 months since I looked at the polling, and here's what changed from my "2012 looks like 2008" map:
These states have gone from "undecided" to Obama: NV
These states have gone from "undecided" to Romney: AZ, FL, GA, MO, SC, SD
These states have gone from Romney to Obama: N/A
These states have gone from Obama to Romney: IN, NC, NE-2
These guesses are based off of what Nate Silver is predicting over at 538, and I don't see much of a reason to doubt his forecasts. FL and OH are dominating the discussions on CNN et al. because they will be massive screw-ups, but, honestly, Obama does not need either to win, whereas Romney needs both (and then some more) to win.
What happened to the "undecided" states?
All of these states, as of 17 months ago, were still being inconsistent on whether or not they were going to support four more years of Obama or a Republican presidency.
AZ, GA, SC, and SD are all strongly Republican, so unless Obama put a man on the moon, it was unlikely they would break for him.
NV has a strong Latino voting block, which the Rich White Guy party is unlikely to capture.
MO barely went for McCain-Palin in 2008, by less than 4000 votes, and since Democratic voter turnout this year looks like it will be smaller than in 2008, I think MO will break Romney.
Florida is broken. Early voters have had to wait up to 8 hours to vote. This is stupid and pointless and why the hell is the "world's greatest country" making its citizens have to do such a thing?
I think that Florida's government has continued to make it more difficult for likely-Democratic voters to vote than likely-Republican voters. You can read that in racial or economic terms, but either is appropriate: Florida's government wants rich white people to vote, and non-rich, non-white people to not. In 2012, I think that will allow Romney to legitimately (but unethically[?]) win the state. But FL is the weakest Romney-leaning state, so, maybe the Democrats win somehow.
Why did Obama lose 2.33333 states?
IN is a Republican state, largely because of white flight from IL and MI. Obama's winning of IN in 2008 is not going to be repeated by any Democrats in the near future.
NC is a Republican state unless its college students and young blue collar workers are voting. The main demographic that seems to be voting less this year than in 2008 (according to Paul Begala, if you trust him) is younger voters. Obama loses NC because he is less able to inspire young people to vote for him.
NE-2 is not polling as well for Obama this time around, so I expect the entirety of NE to vote Romney
So is it an Obama-Biden win?Probably, by a score of 303-235. That's a smaller "mandate" (to use Bush's terminology) than what Obama received in 2008, but a bigger "mandate" than Bush received in 2000 (ha!) or 2004.
This results makes little sense, because this will be the first time in a while that an incumbent presiding over a high rate of unemployment was re-elected. Fortunately, Republican primaries chose an older rich white guy as their candidate, whose campaign then chose a slightly younger rich white guy as his running mate, and then that campaign focused on trying to secure only one voting demographic block: white people.
Appealing only to white people is not a winning nation-wide strategy anymore, but I'll write more about that next.
What about third party candidates?
I don't know if I will live to see another Perot-like third party Presidential candidate who captures a significant number of voters. In 2008 only a few states had a third party achieve more votes than the winning gap between Obama and McCain. This year could see more of that because the peace-loving left (hopefully) don't want to bloody their hands with a vote for the warmonger Obama, and because the Christian right (hopefully?) don't want to vote for a Mormon. But for the most part it looks like these two groups will more likely be non-voters than voters for third party candidates.
What about the Senate?
Looks like it will stay Democrat.
What about the House?
The Republicans remain in power, but with less power than in 2010.
What will the second Obama term be like?
An orchestra playing on the Titanic.
In 2010, the Republican Party was able to motivate more voters with fear and hatred than the Democratic Party could with lackluster ideas and moderation, and so the GOP re-took control of the House. Without a compliant House, the President has little power. Without a compliant President, the House has little power.
In a recession, this combination of impotence and intentional gridlock only makes recovery take longer. That any form of economic recovery has occurred during 2011 and 2012 is surprising, and probably only due to steps that were taken in 2009.
There's the possibility that a government shutdown in 2013 or 2014 will remind voters that the Republican Party is incapable of governing successfully, and the House will switch back in 2014. But it seems as if John Boehner is less zealous than Newt Gingrich, and recognizes that a government shutdown will make his party weaker politically, not stronger. So unless Boehner is replaced by someone more "damn the torpedoes!", the Republicans might keep the House for the entirety of Obama's second term.