The State Of The Horserace

Nate Silver unveils his first election forecast. His model currently gives Obama just over a 60 percent chance of winning but "the edge could easily swing to Mitt Romney on the basis of further bad economic news":

The forecast currently calls for Mr. Obama to win roughly 290 electoral votes, but outcomes ranging everywhere from about 160 to 390 electoral votes are plausible, given the long lead time until the election and the amount of news that could occur between now and then. Both polls and economic indicators are a pretty rough guide five months before an election.

He believes that Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and Pennsylvania are the key states:

The model suggests that the campaigns might do best to concentrate their resources. As much as campaign operatives love to talk about how they are expanding the map, contemplating unusual parlays of states in which they reach 270 electoral votes, the election is very likely to come down to a mere handful of states. In many ways, the relative ordering of the states is more predictable than how the election as a whole will play out.