Much has changed since First Read last ran our NBC presidential battleground map back in early November. (Has it REALLY been that long?)
The economy and labor market have improved; President Obama’s approval numbers have risen after his debt-ceiling blues; and the Republican primary contest has turned into a knock-down, drag-out fight.
And that explains why our Electoral College scorecard has gone from 196 D vs. 195 R (with 147 toss-up electoral votes) back in November, to 227 D vs. 197 R with (114 toss-up).
The big changes: We’ve moved Michigan and Wisconsin from toss-up to Lean Dem, reflecting Obama’s improved strength in both states; we’ve moved New Hampshire from Lean GOP to Toss-up; and we’ve moved Iowa from Toss-up to Lean GOP.
Locally, the District and Maryland remain Solid Dem (with no chance of flipping) and Virginia is still a Toss-Up state.
The map and the changes on it are based on the public and private polling we’ve seen, as well as our conversations with operatives studying the battlegrounds. Again, we do not make our judgments SOLELY on public polling or based on poll averages.
Solid Dem (no chance at flip): DC, DE, HI, ME (3 EVs) MD, MA, NY, RI, VT (70 electoral votes)
Likely Dem (takes a landslide to flip): CA, CT, IL, ME, WA (94)
Lean Dem: ME (1 EV) MN, NJ, NM, OR, MI, WI (63)
Toss-up: CO, FL, NV, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, NH (114)
Lean GOP: AZ, GA, IA, MO, (43)
Likely GOP (takes a landslide to flip): AL, AR, IN, LA, MS, MT, NE (1 EV), ND, SC, SD, TX (97)
Solid GOP (no chance at flip): AK, ID, KS, KY, NE (4 EVs) OK, TN, UT, WV, WY (57)
Chuck Todd is NBC News' Political Director and host of "The Daily Rundown," which can be seen at 9 a.m. weekdays on MSNBC. Read the national edition of First Read featuring Chuck, Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro on msnbc.com.