Politics Counts: Where Romney Can Find Votes

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Mitt Romney had a good night on Wednesday. Now with a consensus win in the first presidential debate in his back pocket, the GOP presidential nominee is looking to turn around a recent slide he has seen in head-to-head polls against President Barack Obama.

Since the party conventions a month ago the race between the two has gone from a dead heat to a three-point lead for Mr. Obama, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls. The president led by the same margin among likely voters in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, released just before the debate.

But that margin doesn’t fully capture the challenges Mr. Romney faces. We took those poll numbers and analyzed them geographically using the Patchwork Nation breakdown of 12 county types. And when you do that, you see a much more complicated terrain for the former Massachusetts governor.

In Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown of counties, there are three that hold the most voters: the big city Industrial Metropolis counties, the wealthy Monied Burbs and the more exurban Boom Towns.

Together those three types hold about 180 million people and if you want an understanding of how presidential elections are won for either party there is a pretty basic formula to their vote. Right now the numbers don’t work for Mr. Romney and that’s something he’ll need to fix in the coming weeks if he wants a shot at winning in November. For the rest of this Politics Counts column, please visit the Wall Street Journal's website.