The outcome here is nearly certain. There won't be any Tuesday-night suspense. But the winner still gets 55 electoral votes -- a fifth of what's needed for victory.
On the eve of Election Day, all eyes are on the swing states, where they've been for some time. So long, in fact, that the average American could be forgiven for forgetting that Ohio and Florida aren't the places with the most power to choose the next president of the United States.
As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney vie to win 270 electoral votes, the state that matters most is California. The Golden State and its 37.7 million residents confer 55 electoral votes -- three times more than little Ohio, which would suffer through fewer months of awful campaign ads if only its voters would stop changing their minds about whether they want to cast red or blue ballots.
Texas is the second-most important state in this year's election. It'll add 38 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's tally. If he improbably lost the state, where he's leading by roughly 17 points, there's no way he'd win the election. It's even more important to him than Florida, with its 29 electoral votes. Florida is tied for third-most important with New York, which also confers 29 electoral votes. Don't let the fact that Romney spends more time trying to win Florida fool you into imagining that it matters more than Texas. It's just that Romney can win the Lone Star State without trying.
Here are the states ranked from most important to least important in presidential elections, along with their electoral votes: