Latest RCP Electoral College Map focuses our attention

RealClearPolitics has revised its electoral college map today and now shows only nine states in the “toss up” category.  Nevada and Pennsylvania have been moved to the “Leans Obama” category, giving Obama a total of 253 electoral college votes.  Romney is shown with 170 electoral college votes and a very narrow pathway to victory.  In order to defeat Obama, Romney

1.  Must win Arizona.  This is a traditional Red State and if Romney loses Arizona he would have to win all of the other toss up states except for New Hampshire.

2.  Must also win Florida and Ohio.  Winning either of these puts Obama over the top.

3.  Probably must win both North Carolina and Virginia.  If Romney loses either of these two, he would have to run the table with the four remaining states.

4.  Must win either Missouri or Colorado.  If he wins both, he wins the election.  Lose both and lose the election.

5.  If he doesn’t win both Missouri and Colorado, he must win either Iowa or New Hampshire.

Given this map, Romney has two major decisions.  First, does he play the hand that has been dealt him or does he try to expand the map?  Second, who does he choose as a VP running mate given this map?  This would seem to narrow the choices to Rob Portman (Ohio), Marco Rubio (Florida), or Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire).  He has time to make both of these decisions and should do so very carefully, ignoring all other distractions and competing interests.  The goal is 270 and the path to victory is clear.