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The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee a majority of the Electoral College to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote in the Electoral College reflects the choice of the nation's voters for President of the United States.   more
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    Analysts Write-Off Three-Quarters of States in 2008 Election

    A New York Times article (below) reported (May 11, 2008) that both the McCain and Obama campaigns agree the 2008 presidential race will be concentrated in 14 closely divided "battleground" states. The 14 states are Colorado (9), Florida (27), Iowa (7), Michigan (17), Minnesota (10), New Hampshire (4), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), Ohio (20), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (21), Virginia (13), Washington (11), and Wisconsin (10).

    A Los Angeles Times article (below) quotes Charles Black, a senior McCain advisor, saying: "Everybody's top priorities will be those 12 to 15 swing states that were close in 2004" (June 5, 2008).

    An AP story (below) by Charles Babington (June 6, 2008) reports that the "presidential race boils down to 15 states."

    The Washington Post Electoral College Prediction Map identifies 10 "swing" states (totaling 111 electoral votes) for the 2008 election: Colorado (9), Florida (27), Iowa (7), Minnesota (10), Missouri (11), Nevada (5), New Hampshire (4), New Mexico (5), Ohio (20), and Virginia (13). The map permits you to experiment by assigning each state to a particular candidate and tally up the total.

    In a Washington Post column, David Broder referred to North Carolina and Indiana as "unimportant" "throwaway" states (May 8, 2008). Broder's somewhat undiplomatic (but accurate) wording also applies to a total of 36 states (plus the District of Columbia) because these jurisdictions are not "battlegrounds" in the 2008 presidential election. Under the almost universally-used winner-take-all rule (which awards all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes in a particular state), presidential candidates have no reason to visit, organize, advertise, poll, or pay any attention to states in which they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.





    Charles Babington (AP) Says Presidential Race Boils Down to 15 States
    Presidential Race Boils Down to 15 States
    By Charles Babington, AOL News (AP)
    June 6, 2008

    WASHINGTON (June 8) — While many people will work on their tans this summer, or on summer reading lists or on not working too hard, two exceptions — John McCain and Barack Obama — and their underlings will be working.

    Working industriously on an election that only one can win.

    With 11 weeks to the start of the Democratic convention — and the GOP event just days later — Republican McCain and Democrat Obama will be focused on strategy, fundraising, shoring up weak spots and exploiting opportunities to prepare themselves for the sprint to Nov. 4.

    Here's what they'll be worrying about:

    Shrinking the electoral map.

    From now on, the great majority of Americans can be excused if they barely realize a presidential election is under way. They will see virtually no TV ads, visits by candidates or local news coverage.

    That's because this campaign, like the last two, will focus on about 15 competitive states. Both parties see the other states as reliably in their camps and not needing attention, or totally out of reach and not worth the effort and expense of trying to win them. In either case, these states will largely be ignored.

    McCain will start by trying to hold the 31 states President Bush won in 2004 (which are almost identical to the 30 he won in 2000). If he succeeds, he will be president.

    Obama must claim one or more of those states, while losing few if any of the ones Al Gore and John Kerry won in their narrow losses to Bush.

    The magic number is 18. That's how many electoral votes Obama must add to Kerry's 252, from four years ago, to secure the presidency. For example, if Obama carries Iowa (seven electoral votes) and Missouri (11) without losing any Kerry states, he would become president.

    Other states Obama will target as possible pickups are Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and at least one — Virginia — not normally within the Democrats' reach.

    He must play defense elsewhere in hopes of keeping McCain from snatching Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, New Hampshire and possibly Maine, all of which Kerry won.

    One possible scenario would be excruciating for McCain. If he carried every state Bush won in 2004 except Nevada, New Mexico and Iowa — a plausible outcome — then he and Obama would each have 269 electoral votes. The House of Representatives would break the tie, with each state delegation having one vote. Democrats control more state delegations than Republicans, so Obama almost surely would be named president.

    Choosing a running mate.

    Analysts question whether a vice presidential choice seriously affects a presidential election, but Obama calls it the most important decision he will make before Election Day. He and McCain have appointed small groups to vet contenders and, if nothing else, the process will fascinate the political chattering class for a while.

    Obama first must decide whether to tap Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who battled him to the end and has legions of fans who want her on the ticket. Many political insiders think he will turn elsewhere, but they do not agree on a front-runner.

    Possibilities include four vanquished presidential rivals (besides Clinton): New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, and Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware, and Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia is often mentioned, as are two prominent female supporters of Obama: Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

    Less conventional choices for Obama would be Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, or a prominent Clinton supporter, such as Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana. Virginia alone (a GOP-leaning state Obama would love to win) has three possible running mates: Gov. Tim Kaine, Sen. Jim Webb and former Gov. Mark Warner, who is running for the Senate.

    McCain is likely to look at Republican Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Charlie Crist of Florida, two battleground states. Other possibilities include former Massachusetts governor and presidential rival Mitt Romney; Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman; South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford; Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; and former congressman and White House budget director Rob Portman of Ohio, another key state.

    A private-sector choice might be Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.

    Defining your opponent before he defines you.

    Campaign pollsters say the average person still knows relatively little about Obama or McCain. Both men and their allies will race to fill in the blanks with appealing portraits of themselves and unflattering pictures of the other.

    Obama's theme is "change," and he constantly says McCain would carry out "a third term" of President Bush, whose approval ratings approach historic lows. McCain portrays Obama as inexperienced, naive and more talk than action.

    Youth and age will be a key subtext. Obama does not directly allude to McCain's age, which will hit 72 on the eve of the GOP convention. But their age difference, 25 years, is the largest in history for major party nominees. Obama must show he's mature and ready; McCain must show he's sharp and vigorous.

    Both campaigns are rapidly adding staff. Obama's team will focus on introducing the first-term senator to voters who may not know much about his biography, while on Monday he begins a two-week economic tour of the country.

    Raising money.

    Obama has assembled an unprecedented political fundraising machine, raking in $264 million in 16 months. McCain has raised $115 million in 17 months. McCain, assured of his eventual nomination, had his best fundraising month in May, raising $21.5 million. Obama, reeling from controversies over his former pastor and still battling Clinton, raised nearly $32 million in April.

    Obama should manage to continue this extraordinary accumulation of cash. McCain is improving as he works with the Republican National Committee to expand his donor base.

    The Democrats' challenge is to build the party's finances. The RNC, now operating with McCain strategists in place, raised nearly $24 million in May and had $53.6 million on hand at the beginning of June. The Democratic National Committee raised nearly $5 million in May and ended the month with $4 million in the bank.

    Obama is putting his stamp on the DNC, and has installed a top strategist to oversee general election operations. Separately, on Sunday, Obama named Matthew Nugen, his campaign's political director, to oversee operations for the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August.

    McCain is preparing to accept about $85 million in public financing. But he needs approval from the Federal Election Commission, which cannot act until the Senate confirms nominees required for a quorum.

    Obama is expected to turn down the hefty check and rely on private donors to finance his run.



    Michael Finnegan (Los Angeles Times) Identifies 14 Likely Battlegrounds
    Obama vs. McCain, by the map
    The Democrat polls about even with his GOP rival nationally, but both must focus their efforts on the states that went with Bush in 2004

    By Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times
    June 5, 2008

    In many states that President Bush captured in the 2004 election, Barack Obama has swelled the ranks of Democrats by the thousands, drawing record numbers of young people and African Americans to the polls.

    But will this enthusiasm — which propelled his victory Tuesday in the race for the Democratic nomination — deliver enough of these states to Obama to win the presidency?

    That question is on the minds of strategists plotting the Democratic Party's drive to retake the White House. In national polls, Obama runs about even with Republican John McCain, but he cannot win the 270 electoral votes he needs unless he picks up states that Bush won.

    McCain, for his part, must hold all of Bush's states, or else carry some new ones to make up for any losses.

    "Everybody's top priorities will be those 12 to 15 swing states that were close in 2004," said Charles Black, a senior McCain advisor.

    For weeks, Obama and McCain have crossed paths in those states, with a particular emphasis on Florida. When South Dakota and Montana handed Obama the delegates needed to clinch the nomination Tuesday night, he did not celebrate in either state, but in Minnesota — a state that is crucial for Democrats to hold.

    Obama is running in a climate that strongly favors Democrats. Advisors say he is well-placed to expand the map of Democratic states to Colorado and Virginia, a pair of Bush states now more friendly to his party — and might even add such GOP strongholds as Georgia.

    Yet a wholesale recoloring of the nation's red-and-blue electoral map is hard to fathom, strategists and independent analysts say.

    Instead, the Illinois senator probably will battle McCain most fiercely in states around the Great Lakes and in the Southwest — those with the narrowest vote margins between Bush and his 2004 Democratic challenger, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry.

    McCain stands a plausible chance of carrying perhaps half a dozen states that Kerry won. The Arizona senator's popularity with independents puts states such as Wisconsin and New Hampshire within reach.

    Two other states that went Democratic in the last presidential contest — Pennsylvania and Michigan — are also top McCain targets, thanks partly to Obama's trouble bonding with working-class white voters.

    But, pollsters say, McCain's standing has been inflated by the protracted Democratic nomination fight. Now that the attacks on Obama by rival Hillary Rodham Clinton will recede into the past, they say, McCain's poll numbers are likely to drop.

    "He'll have the challenge of beating a solidified Democratic Party, and that's going to be a tough row to hoe," said Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll.

    McCain's campaign has put forward optimistic election-day scenarios, saying he can pick up Democratic-leaning states such as New Jersey and Washington.

    But once Democrats unite, the dismal environment for Republicans could force him to devote more effort to defending states that Bush won. The sluggish economy, the Iraq war and Bush's unpopularity are potentially major drags on McCain's candidacy, even if his iconoclastic image gives him some distance from his beleaguered party.

    "The concept that McCain is going to put the Pennsylvanias of the world in play is a much less plausible scenario than the Democrats putting the Missouris and Ohios in play," said Ruy Teixeira, co-author of "The Emerging Democratic Majority."

    Obama's team has laid out its best-case scenarios

    . "We feel we can stretch the battlefield," Obama strategist David Axelrod said.

    In Georgia and Virginia, about 700,000 African Americans who are eligible to vote are not registered, and Obama has the money and volunteer force to sign them up, said Steve Hildebrand, his deputy campaign manager.

    But apart from Virginia, where the rapidly growing Washington suburbs have fueled recent Democratic victories, the South looks bleak for Obama, pollsters say. Recent Democratic wins in Mississippi and Louisiana congressional races have sparked new hope for Obama, but pollsters say that black voters who drove his victories in Southern primaries are unlikely to be numerous enough to overcome the region's strong GOP leanings.

    "The truth is there is no relationship . . . between how you do in a primary election in a state and how you do in a general in that state," Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said.

    In the Southwest, McCain holds an edge in Arizona, his home state. But in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, rapid population growth — and an influx of Latinos — has led to newly favorable conditions for Democrats.

    Bush, who drew 45% of the Latino vote in 2004, carried the three states. McCain hopes that his support for legalizing many undocumented immigrants, and the political price he paid for it within his party, will keep him competitive with Latinos. Also comforting to McCain: Latinos have sided with Clinton over Obama in Democratic contests, most recently on Sunday in the Puerto Rico primary.

    For Obama, perhaps the biggest challenge lies in three big industrial states that offer a rich trove of electoral votes: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    In the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries, Obama won scant support from white blue-collar voters, a key bloc in the Rust Belt. History suggests that they will lean toward McCain. In 2004, white voters with no college degree voted for Bush over Kerry by 23 percentage points; Obama cannot afford to lose them by such a wide margin.

    McCain's support of free trade, especially the North American Free Trade Agreement, could hurt his effort in the economically pressed region. But "there's going to be some natural appeal for the old war veteran who sort of speaks his mind," said William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

    Frey described Obama as "a harder person for a lot of these older, middle-aged baby boomers and seniors to identify with."

    As the first black presidential nominee of a major party, Obama will also face a race factor. "I wouldn't say it's out and out racism," Frey said, "but it's the whole idea of changing from the stereotypical candidate they're used to."

    At the same time, a surge in black turnout in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Detroit and other cities could offset any Obama shortfall among working-class whites.

    In the Midwest and elsewhere, Obama and McCain face a highly competitive campaign for independents, notably in Minnesota and Wisconsin, states that Kerry won by narrow margins.

    "The fact that neither one of them is seen as a tough, hard-core partisan gives them both entree to those voters that other nominees in the past haven't had," said Democratic strategist Bill Carrick.

    One state Bush won in 2004 is particularly ripe for Obama to pick up: Iowa. Obama built a powerful organization that swept him to victory in Iowa's Democratic caucuses in January.

    But Florida, a far more populous swing state and the scene of the 2000 vote-count debacle, could be tough for Obama. Older voters, a vast group there, strongly preferred Clinton over Obama. And Obama has struggled to gain the trust of some Jewish voters, a crucial constituency in South Florida. That dynamic has led to fierce competition between Obama and McCain over which would be a stronger champion of Israel's security.



    NCEC Identifies 14 Battleground States for 2008
    Election Insider
    The General Election Campaign Begins With A Close Race on the Horizon.
    NCEC
    June 9, 2008

    The General Election Campaign Begins With A Close Race on the Horizon.

    Now that Senator Barack Obama has secured the Democratic nomination for president, Democrats can move forward as a party to face an even more daunting task: defeating John McCain. National polls consistently show Barack Obama ahead of McCain, but those polls are seldom an accurate reflection of how the Electoral College will play out. Every analysis of the electoral map suggests that 2008 will be just as close as the two preceding elections. Some new states have joined the elite “swing state” club, but the only important number stays the same, 270. National polls suggest that Democrats have a slight advantage, but in going state-to-state the situation is complicated. NCEC is not stopping to rest or reflect after the primary; we are moving ahead, because we know that every day counts.

    A great deal of attention has been placed on the emergence of new targets for the Democrats in the 2008 election, but that doesn't mean that the traditional battlegrounds are any less competitive. Traditionally close states such as Florida , Iowa , Michigan , Ohio , Pennsylvania , and Wisconsin are states that are fought over cycle after cycle and early polls suggest that they will once again be at the forefront on election night. An average of early polls shows that Democratic nominee Barack Obama fares well in these states. He leads in Iowa , Ohio , Pennsylvania , and Wisconsin , and is extremely close in Florida and Michigan . If these results were to remain through Election Day, the Democrats would come out ahead in electoral votes from these big states by a small margin: 58 for the Democrats to 44 for the Republicans. These states will be the site of aggressive campaigning for the next six months, but if the Obama campaign can shore up support in Michigan, a traditionally Democratic state, and maintain the lead in these other states, than a Democrat is headed for the White House. Michigan , which has not voted for a Republican in the presidential election since 1988, is the biggest source of worry at present. Michigan will be at the forefront of the economic debate this year, and thus fair John McCain has remained competitive in this state. The state will likely be determined by Black turnout and Democratic performance in Suburban areas, as population in the urban areas declines.

    The early polls in traditional swing states are cause for optimism, but it is a cautious optimism at best. The polls will most likely swing back and forth from now until November, and Democrats can't afford to let a setback in one of these states spell disaster for the entire campaign. In 2000, and 2004, Democrats relied too heavily on winning all or one specific combination of these swing states, which left no margin for error and eventually led to defeat. The emergence of Barack Obama as the leader of the Democratic ticket is a stroke of good fortune in terms of taking advantage of new opportunities in the Electoral College. Obama's victory in the Democratic primary firmly places Colorado , Missouri , Nevada , and Virginia in the battleground category for November. He consistently polled well ahead of his former rival Hillary Clinton in general election matchups against Republican candidate John McCain in these states. Other potential opportunities exist in Indiana , where the Democrats won 3 House seats in 2006, and North Carolina . In North Carolina , a strong Black turnout could make this a close race.

    An average of multiple polls in these states shows that Obama wins in Colorado and New Mexico , which would bring a total of 14 electoral votes. These 14 electoral votes would help offset any potential loss in Michigan . He's also running extremely close in Missouri and Virginia. The crown jewel of any of these states is Virginia ; a victory there would signal a shift in the GOP's long domination of the South and bring a crucial 13 electoral votes to the Democratic column, which could deliver the final blow to the Republicans in this election. If the Democrats are able to win three of these five states, it could propel them to victory. The Republicans have carried Virginia by six percent in the last two presidential elections, but a growing population and better performances by Democrats in suburban areas have put this state in play. Since 2005, Democrats have captured the governorship and a senate seat in statewide elections. When averaging all the recent polls from Virginia , the Republicans hold a one-point advantage in the state. Similar developments have made Colorado a battleground, which now favors Democrats, a growing population and a strong performance in suburban counties in consecutive cycles has Democrats counting on this state, which they haven't won since 1992.

    When counting up the votes, the Electoral College looks as if it will be as close as ever. The graph shows NCEC projections suggesting that Democrats have a slight advantage. States that are safely Democratic or expected to go Democratic account for 232 electoral votes, leaving them 38 votes shy of the needed 270. The Republicans appear likely to capture 226 electoral votes, leaving them 44 votes shy. The outlook appeared better a few months ago before Michigan became a true battleground. However, Pennsylvania , which is traditionally a Democratic state, is currently listed as a battleground state; should polls continue to show Senator Obama ahead, which they have recently, then the outlook will look significantly better. The table below gives a full look at the Electoral College as it stands right now.

    Battleground States

    Michigan
    Nevada
    Ohio
    Pennsylvnia
    Virginia

    Democratic Leaning Battleground States

    Colorado
    Iowa
    New Mexico
    Oregon
    Wisconsin

    Republican Learning Battleground States

    Arkansas
    Florida
    Indiana
    Missouri
    North Carolina



    CQ Politics Identifies 11 Swing States for 2008 (June 1, 2008)
    Swing States in 2004 Would Add Up About Same in an –McCain Race
    By CQ Staff, CQ Politics
    June 1, 2008

    If Illinois Sen. Barack Obama becomes the Democratic choice to oppose Arizona Sen. John McCain , he would run about the same as Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry did against President Bush in 2004 in the 11 “swing states” where the winner’s margin was less than five percent, according to a sampling of polls conducted so far this year.

    There are many caveats to this kind of forecast, starting with the fact that polls of general election presidential match-ups in each state conducted in April and May are snapshots in time far in advance of the fall contest. These are also polls conducted before the Democrats have put their final stamp of approval on a nominee, and if New York Sen. Hillary Clinton were to win the nomination - which most political analysts see as unlikely - it would shift the outcomes in some of the states.

    In 2004, Kerry won Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire for a total of 69 electoral votes. Bush won Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and New Mexico for 46 electoral votes.

    Looking now at polls of these same states, Obama leads McCain in Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado and Iowa which have a total of 64 electoral votes. McCain leads in Nevada, Ohio, Michigan and New Hampshire which have a total of 46 electoral votes. This time around, the latest poll shows New Mexico as a toss-up.

    Here’s a state-by-state look. Round-ups of all the states for which general election match-up polls are available (as are Senate race polls) in CQ Politics Poll Tracker.

    Stays Democratic:

    • Minnesota:Kerry beat Bush 51.1 percent to 47.6 percent. Both Obama and Clinton lead McCain 53 percent to 38 percent, in a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted May 22. A Minneapolis Star Tribune poll conducted May 12-15 showed Obama ahead of McCain 51 percent to 38 percent and Clinton leading McCain 49 percent to 40 percent.

    • Oregon:Kerry beat Bush 51.3 percent to 47.2 percent. Obama leads McCain in a general election match-up for Oregon by 52 percent to 38 percent while Clinton is ahead by 46 percent to 40 percent in a May 7 survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports. In mid-April, SurveyUSA had Obama ahead 51 percent to 42 percent while Clinton ran statistically even with McCain.

    • Pennsylvania:Kerry beat Bush 50.9 percent to 48.4 percent. Obama leads McCain 46 percent to 40 percent with a 2.4 percent margin of error, in a Quinnipiac University poll conducted May 13-20. Clinton is ahead 50 percent to 37 percent. In a SurveyUSA poll conducted May 16-18,Obama has a 48 percent to 40 percent lead over McCain with 12 percent undecided.

    • Wisconsin:Kerry beat Bush 49.7 percent to 49.3 percent. Obama leads McCain 48 percent to 42 percent with 10 percent undecided in a SurveyUSA poll conducted May 16-18. The margin of error is 4.1 percent. SurveyUSA did not poll on Clinton. This race is listed as “stays Democrat” based on the most recent poll although a May 5 poll by Rasmussen Reports had McCain ahead of either Obama or Clinton by 47 percent to 43 percent with a 4.5 percent margin of error.

    Shifts Republican to Democrat:

    • Colorado:Bush beat Kerry 51.7 percent to 47 percent. Obama leads McCain 48 percent to 42 percent with 5 percent undecided and 5 percent preferring someone else, in a Rasmussen Reports survey conducted May 19. The two were in a statistical dead heat in Rasmussen’s last poll conducted mid-April. If Hillary Clinton were the Democratic nominee, McCain would be leading her 47 percent to 44 percent with 7 percent preferring other. The margin of error is 4 points.

    Swing States in 2004 Would Add Up About Same in an Obama–McCain Race

    • Iowa:Bush beat Kerry 49.9 percent to 49.2 percent. Obama leads McCain 47 percent to 38 percent with 16 percent undecided in a poll conducted May 21-22 by SurveyUSA. The margin of error is 4.1 percent. This poll did not include Clinton. A Rasmussen Reports survey conducted May 13 had Obama ahead 44 percent to 42 percent with 8 percent choosing “other” and 5 percent undecided. The margin of error was 4.5 percent.

    Stays Republican:

    • Nevada:Bush beat Kerry 50.5 percent to 47.9 percent. McCain leads both Clinton and Obama in a general election match-up in Nevada, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted April 21. Rasmussen noted that Nevada has voted with the winner in the last seven elections, and in the last four, the winning margin was no larger than 4 points.

    • Ohio:Bush beat Kerry 50.8 percent to 48.7 percent. McCain leads Obama 44 percent to 40 percent, with a 2.8 percent margin of error, in a Quinnipiac University pollconducted May 13-20. Clinton leads McCain 48 percent to 41 percent. A Rasmussen Reportssurvey conducted May 15 had Obama locked with McCain at 45 percent to 44 percent with 5 percent choosing “other” and 5 percent undecided. If Clinton were to stage a miracle and become the nominee, she’d be leading McCain 50 percent to 43 percent.

    Shifts Democrat to Republican:

    • Michigan:Kerry beat Bush 51.2 percent to 47.8 percent. McCain leads Obama by 41 percent to 37 percent but with a whopping 21 percent undecided, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted May 27. The poll did not include Clinton. A May 7 survey by Rasmussen Reports had shown a toss-up race no matter which Democrat runs against McCain. McCain had 45 percent to Obama’s 44 percent with 6 percent saying they’d vote for a third-party candidate and 5 percent undecided. Clinton tied with McCain at 44 percent with 9 percent saying they’d vote for a third-party candidate and 4 percent undecided. The margin of error is 4.5 percent.

    • New Hampshire:Kerry beat Bush 50.2 percent to 48.9 percent. McCain leads Obama 41.8 percent to 39.3 percent with 18 percent undecided, and Clinton by 45.2 percent to 36.4 percent with 18.4 percent undecided in a survey conducted April 28-May 2 by Dartmouth College’s Rockefeller Center.

    Republican to toss-up:

    • New Mexico:Bush beat Kerry 49.8 percent to 49 percent. McCain and Obama run dead even at 44 percent each with 12 percent undecided in a SurveyUSA poll conducted May 16-18. The margin of error is 4.1 percent. The poll did not include Clinton.

    • Iowa:Bush beat Kerry 49.9 percent to 49.2 percent. Obama leads McCain 47 percent to 38 percent with 16 percent undecided in a poll conducted May 21-22 by SurveyUSA. The margin of error is 4.1 percent. This poll did not include Clinton. A Rasmussen Reports survey conducted May 13 had Obama ahead 44 percent to 42 percent with 8 percent choosing “other” and 5 percent undecided. The margin of error was 4.5 percent.

    Stays Republican:

    • Nevada:Bush beat Kerry 50.5 percent to 47.9 percent. McCain leads both Clinton and Obama in a general election match-up in Nevada, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted April 21. Rasmussen noted that Nevada has voted with the winner in the last seven elections, and in the last four, the winning margin was no larger than 4 points.

    • Ohio:Bush beat Kerry 50.8 percent to 48.7 percent. McCain leads Obama 44 percent to 40 percent, with a 2.8 percent margin of error, in a Quinnipiac University pollconducted May 13-20. Clinton leads McCain 48 percent to 41 percent. A Rasmussen Reportssurvey conducted May 15 had Obama locked with McCain at 45 percent to 44 percent with 5 percent choosing “other” and 5 percent undecided. If Clinton were to stage a miracle and become the nominee, she’d be leading McCain 50 percent to 43 percent.

    Shifts Democrat to Republican:

    • Michigan:Kerry beat Bush 51.2 percent to 47.8 percent. McCain leads Obama by 41 percent to 37 percent but with a whopping 21 percent undecided, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted May 27. The poll did not include Clinton. A May 7 survey by Rasmussen Reports had shown a toss-up race no matter which Democrat runs against McCain. McCain had 45 percent to Obama’s 44 percent with 6 percent saying they’d vote for a third-party candidate and 5 percent undecided. Clinton tied with McCain at 44 percent with 9 percent saying they’d vote for a third-party candidate and 4 percent undecided. The margin of error is 4.5 percent.

    • New Hampshire:Kerry beat Bush 50.2 percent to 48.9 percent. McCain leads Obama 41.8 percent to 39.3 percent with 18 percent undecided, and Clinton by 45.2 percent to 36.4 percent with 18.4 percent undecided in a survey conducted April 28-May 2 by Dartmouth College’s Rockefeller Center.

    Republican to toss-up:

    • New Mexico:Bush beat Kerry 49.8 percent to 49 percent. McCain and Obama run dead even at 44 percent each with 12 percent undecided in a SurveyUSA poll conducted May 16-18. The margin of error is 4.1 percent. The poll did not include Clinton.



    New York Times List of 14 Battleground States for 2008 (May 11, 2008)

    Already, Obama and McCain Map Fall Strategies
    By ADAM NAGOURNEY and JEFF ZELENY
    New York Times
    May 11, 2008

    Senators John McCain and Barack Obama are already drawing up strategies for taking each other on in the general election, focusing on the same groups — including independent voters and Latinos — and about a dozen states where they think the contest is likely to be decided this fall, campaign aides said.

    In a sign of what could be an extremely unusual fall campaign, the two sides said Saturday that they would be open to holding joint forums or unmoderated debates across the country in front of voters through the summer. Mr. Obama, campaigning in Oregon, said that the proposal, floated by Mr. McCain's advisers, was "a great idea."

    Even before Mr. Obama fully wraps up the Democratic presidential nomination, he and Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, are starting to assemble teams in the key battlegrounds, develop negative advertising and engage each other in earnest on the issues and a combustible mix of other topics, including age and patriotism.

    Mr. McCain, of Arizona, will spend the next week delivering a series of speeches on global warming, evidence of his intention to battle Mr. Obama for independent voters, a group the two men have laid claim to. Those voters tend to recoil from hard-edged partisan politics, and presumably would be receptive to the kind of bipartisan forum that Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama seemed open to on Saturday.

    Clearly concerned that questions about such things as his association with his former pastor had damaged his standing with independents, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, is likely to embark on a summertime tour intended to highlight the life story that was once central to his appeal. Preliminary plans include a stop in Hawaii, his birthplace, and a major address there at Punchbowl Cemetery, where his maternal grandfather, who fought in World War II, is buried.

    Mr. Obama's campaign is firing up voter-registration efforts and sending troops to Ohio and Pennsylvania, states that he lost in the primaries but that his aides said he must win to capture the White House. Mr. McCain's advisers said they had tracked Mr. Obama's struggles with blue-collar voters there and would open campaign headquarters in both states in early June.

    Beyond that, aides to the two men said Latino voters would be central to victory in a swath of Western states now viewed as prime battlefields, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

    These decisions by Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama to look ahead to the fall reflect their conclusion that it is only a matter of time before Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York steps away from the fight for the Democratic nomination.

    Mr. McCain is looking first to states where President Bush narrowly lost in 2004 and where Mr. Obama lost primaries, starting with New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Mr. Obama is looking to states where he won caucuses and primaries — including some, like Virginia, that have been solidly Republican in recent presidential elections — as well as others where he has organizations in place.

    And the two sides have produced television advertisements that will be rolled out as soon as the Democratic contest is officially resolved. These advertisements are directed less at promoting themselves than at undercutting their opponents.

    The Republican National Committee is planning a $19.5 million advertising campaign to portray Mr. Obama, 46, as out of touch with the country and too inexperienced to be commander in chief, seeking to put him on the defensive before he can use his financial advantage against Mr. McCain, 71, party officials said.

    "In 1984, Ronald Reagan said, 'I'm not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience,' " said Frank Donatelli, the deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee. "Well, we are going to exploit Obama's youth and inexperience."

    On the Democratic side, Mr. Obama's aides this week put finishing touches on advertisements intended to tether Mr. McCain to Mr. Bush and chip away at his image as a maverick, an identity that the aides said they found remained strong with voters.

    "By November, every voter will know that McCain is offering a third Bush term," said Mr. Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe.

    Advisers to Mr. Obama said their research suggested that Mr. McCain, notwithstanding his high profile in American politics for more than a decade, was not well known to many voters. In particular, Mr. Obama's aides said they would highlight Mr. McCain's opposition to abortion rights to try to stem the flow of disaffected women who backed Mrs. Clinton in the primaries and whom Mr. McCain's aides said they would aggressively court.

    The strategies reflect a lesson from the 2004 presidential campaign, when top aides to Mr. Bush, some of whom are working for Mr. McCain today, began a well-financed television campaign to define and undercut Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, the moment he became his party's nominee.

    Mr. Obama's advisers said they were mindful that he had not yet won the nomination and that six contests remained. Still, they said it was crucial to begin engaging Mr. McCain as soon possible.

    Independent voters have been critical in presidential elections as the country has become polarized along party lines. What makes this election different is the extent to which Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have turned to independent voters for support throughout their careers.

    Historically, independent voters have responded to specific issues and concerns, in particular an emphasis on government reform and an aversion to overly bitter partisan wrangling. Accordingly, Mr. McCain's advisers said they would present him as a senator who frequently stepped across the aisle, while portraying Mr. Obama as a down-the-line Democratic voter who is ideologically out of touch with much of the country.

    "We believe America is still a slightly right-of-center country, and that is what McCain is," said Charlie Black, a senior adviser to Mr. McCain. "If you look at Obama's base and his record, he is a pretty conventional liberal."

    Mr. Obama's advisers, meanwhile, intend to present Mr. McCain as a product of Washington who moved closer to the Bush administration to win the Republican nomination.

    The two men also have sought to build their candidacies around images of reform, unconstrained by traditional political molds. The rivals are openly discussing staging forums across the country to speak directly to voters, an idea that is by any measure unconventional for a general election campaign.

    Asked about the idea on Saturday, Mr. Obama told reporters in Oregon, "If I have the opportunity to debate substantive issues before the voters with John McCain, that's something that I'm going to welcome."

    Hispanic voters could find themselves drawing more attention from presidential candidates than ever before. Their votes could prove critical in determining whether Democrats capture states like Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico and whether Republicans have any chance of being competitive in California.

    Mr. McCain's identification with legislation that would have permitted some illegal immigrants to attain citizenship, a position he moved away from in the primaries but never renounced, gives him an opportunity to compete for those voters, who except for Cubans in Florida appear to have largely settled into the Democratic camp in recent years.

    Mr. Obama also supported measures that would have allowed immigrants to attain citizenship but struggled to win over Hispanic voters in his primary fight, signaling a potential problem for him in the fall campaign. Mr. Obama's aides said the endorsement by Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, one of the nation's most prominent Hispanic leaders, could prove more critical in the general election than in the primary.

    Both sides say the states clearly in play now include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

    Republicans said they hoped to put New Jersey and possibly California into play; Democrats said African-Americans could make Mr. Obama competitive in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Mr. Obama's advisers said they had a strong chance of taking Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia away from the Republican column.

    Mr. Obama has a clear financial advantage. By March 31, Mr. McCain had raised about $80 million and reported about $11 million in cash on hand. Mr. Obama had raised three times as much — about $240 million — and had more than four times as much in the bank.

    But the Republican National Committee, which is permitted to spend money on Mr. McCain's behalf, has raised $31 million, compared with just $6 million by the Democratic National Committee. And Republican officials said they were not concerned about being outspent between now and the conventions.

    Mr. Obama's advisers said that as a result of the five-month series of primaries and caucuses, he had a nearly national campaign apparatus in place and had identified and registered thousands of new voters. That said, they acknowledged that they were at a disadvantage in two important states — Florida and Michigan — because those states had early primaries in defiance of the Democratic National Committee, and the candidates agreed not to campaign there.

    "Organizationally, we have now built very powerful organizations in every state but Michigan and Florida," Mr. Plouffe said. "That is one huge silver lining to how long this nomination fight has gone on."

    Republicans will seek to portray Mr. Obama as out of touch with many voters on issues like abortion and gay rights. Some of Mr. McCain's advisers said they also thought that Mr. Obama had displayed a number of vulnerabilities as a candidate that they would seek to exploit: they argued that he was prone to becoming irritated when tired or pressed on tough questions, that he had trouble connecting with voters in smaller settings and that he had run a campaign light on substance.

    In the eyes of the Obama campaign, Mr. McCain's chief weaknesses include continuing to embrace the Iraq war, his support for extending the administration's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (he once opposed the idea) and his suggestion that the economy had made "great progress" in the last eight years.

    Mr. Obama has said he has no intention of making age — Mr. McCain is 25 years older — an overt issue in the general election campaign. Yet in recent weeks, the Obama campaign has made a point of showing their candidate in settings, on the basketball court, as well as surrounded by his young family, that could be seen as telegraphing the message without explicitly raising the issue.



    Liz Sidoti List of 14 Battleground States (April 26, 2008)
    Democrats favored in electoral map
    Competition is expected to play out primarily in 14 states

    By Liz Sidoti, Associated Press
    April 26, 2008

    The electoral road to the White House favors Democrats this fall — either Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton — and has Republican John McCain playing defense to thwart a presidential power shift.

    A downtrodden economy, the war in Iraq and a public call for change have created an Electoral College outlook and a political environment filled with extraordinary opportunity for the Democrats and enormous challenge for the GOP nominee-in-waiting.

    Both parties count on victory in dozens of states that long have voted their way. The competition to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win is expected to play out primarily in 14 states. All but one saw the greatest action in 2004. The exception is Virginia, a longtime Republican stronghold where Democrats have made inroads.

    Eight of the states went for President Bush four years ago, including the crown jewels Ohio and Florida. Six, including big-prize Pennsylvania, voted for Democrat John Kerry. Far more electoral votes, 97, are up for grabs for Democrats than the 69 available for McCain to go after. Twice as many of the closest states ? decided by 2 or fewer percentage points ? voted Republican in 2004; they include New Mexico and Iowa, which the GOP won by 1 point.

    Both sides argue that their candidates can expand the playing field by making more states competitive than in previous elections. But they likely will only spend time and money to test that theory once they feel confident about higher priority states.

    "This is going to be a tough campaign. I have no illusions how hard we have to work to win," McCain says, a sobering assessment of a Republican's chances when most voters say the country is on the wrong track under a GOP president.

    Conversely, Democrats exude confidence that Nov. 4 will break their way ? even as they continue their nomination slugfest.

    "I have every reason to believe we're going to have a Democratic president," Clinton argues. Obama declares: "We will beat John McCain in November. You can take that to the bank!"

    Recent polls, however, show McCain competing strongly with both Clinton and Obama in hypothetical matchups, and Republicans and Democrats envision a close race.

    In 2004, Bush won 286 electoral votes to 251 for Kerry. This year's Democratic nominee must triumph in all the states Kerry won, and pick up 19 more votes to prevail ? or come up with another game plan to reach the magic number. McCain, for his part, must fend off Democratic challenges to hang on to the GOP advantage.

    DEMOCRATIC OPPORTUNITIES:

    Of the 14 battlegrounds, Bush won eight with 97 electoral votes. Half were decided by only 1 or 2 percentage points, and all were under 10 points. Five have Democratic governors this year. Electoral votes are in parentheses.

    Three Western states ? Colorado (9), Nevada (5) and New Mexico (5) ? appear obvious targets for Democrats given their gains in the region, sharp population growth and large numbers of swing-voting Hispanics. But McCain, a four-term senator from Arizona, does well among those voters, too; his Senate support for an eventual path to citizenship for illegal immigrants could help.

    To the east, Iowa (7) holds promise for the Democrats; Republicans narrowly put it into their column in 2004 after years of Democratic dominance. Both Obama and Clinton competed here during the primary. McCain's opposition to ethanol subsidies complicate his chances, nor is he a favorite of evangelicals. Though less likely to change hands, Missouri (11) is a perennial battleground.

    McCain also must defend the two vote-rich prizes that decided the past two elections.

    Ohio (20), a bellwether that tipped the race to Bush in 2004, may be poised for a switch, with a rash of job losses, high numbers of Iraq casualties and a series of Republican statewide political defeats in 2006, including the governor.

    Florida (27), which put Bush in the White House in 2000 and voted for him again in 2004, will certainly be hard-fought, given its electoral treasure chest. Its demographics are tilting more Republican, though, and Obama has fared poorly in the primaries among Jewish and Hispanic voters. Clinton may have a better shot.

    Virginia (13) is a case where Obama, who is black, might play stronger than Clinton because of the state's large black population. The state moves into the competitive category given Democratic gains fueled by the growing Washington suburbs. Virginia also is home to large communities of military veterans who may have an affinity for McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

    REPUBLICAN OPPORTUNITIES:

    Kerry won six of the hard-fought states offering 69 electoral votes that McCain will try to put in the GOP column. All were decided by under 5 percentage points. Most have Democratic governors as well as long histories as swing states.

    In the upper Midwest, Minnesota (10) has a quirky independent streak that presents an opening for McCain. It also has a Republican governor and will host the GOP's national convention. Wisconsin (10) and Michigan (17) have high numbers of Reagan Democrats that McCain could attract. But voters in all three states are reeling from economic woes, and that works in the Democrats' favor.

    New Hampshire (4) fell to Kerry by a razor-thin margin four years ago and, Democrats captured two House seats two years later. But McCain has a close bond with the state that made him in his first presidential primary in 2000, and saved him this year.

    It's been 20 years since Pennsylvania (21) voted Republican. Further complicating McCain's chances: The state's economy is bad and many Pennsylvanians have died in Iraq, the war he staunchly supports. Still, conservative swaths that are home to right-leaning Democrats could give McCain an opening. As usual, the Philadelphia suburbs figure to be pivotal.

    Oregon (7) has become more competitive in recent elections, but Democrats have won it in each of the last five. McCain hopes his moderate image and support for curbing climate change will tip the state to Republicans.

    WILD-CARDS:

    Beyond the core states, several others are worth watching.

    If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, Arkansas (6) will certainly be contested. It has voted Republican in back-to-back elections but her husband, a former governor there, carried it twice. West Virginia (5), too, could be a target given that Bill Clinton won it twice and it's home to a large number of the working-class voters she attracts.

    Should Obama be the nominee, Democrats say they hope to put solid Southern GOP states in play, those with large black populations. Among them: North Carolina (15) and Georgia (15), and possibly even Louisiana (9) and Mississippi (6). But these are unlikely targets unless the Democrats think the election is in hand.

    Democrats also say they may look at Montana (3), which has a Democratic governor, and Kentucky (8), which twice voted for Bill Clinton. But they're also long-shots.

    McCain should hold his home state of Arizona (10) despite Democratic threats to play there. He sees potential opportunities in Democratic-leaning states on both coasts because of his appeal to voters across the political spectrum. These include Washington (11) and Maine (4), and, perhaps, even New Jersey (15) and Delaware (3). McCain also talks big about California (55) but the last Republican to win there was George H.W. Bush in 1988.

    Liz Sidoti covers the presidential race for The Associated Press.



    Cook Political Report Lists 21 Battleground States (April 3, 2008)

    The Cook Political Report listed (on April 3, 2008) 21 battleground states for the 2008 presidential election. The remaining 30 states are listed as either "solid Democratic" or "solid Republican."

    11 Solid Democratic (165 electoral votes) California (55)
    Connecticut (7)
    District of Columbia (3)
    Hawaii (4)
    Illinois (21)
    Maryland (10)
    Massachusetts (12)
    New Jersey (15)
    New York (31)
    Rhode Island (4)
    Vermont (3)

    3 Likely Democratic (18 electoral votes) Delaware (3) Maine (4) Washington (11)

    4 Lean Democratic (55 electoral votes) Michigan (17) Minnesota (10) Oregon (7) Pennsylvania (21)

    7 Toss-Up (78 electoral votes) Florida (27) Iowa (7) Nevada (5) New Hampshire (4) New Mexico (5) Ohio (20) Wisconsin (10)

    2 Lean Republican (20 electoral votes) Colorado (9) Missouri (11)

    5 Likely Republican (45 electoral votes): Arkansas (6) Arizona (10) Tennessee (11) Virginia (13) West Virginia (5)

    19 Solid Republican (157 electoral votes) Alabama (9) Alaska (3) Georgia (15) Idaho (4) Indiana (11) Kansas (6) Kentucky (8) Louisiana (9) Mississippi (6) Montana (3) Nebraska (5) North Carolina (15) North Dakota (3) Oklahoma (7) South Carolina (8) South Dakota (3) Texas (34) Utah (5) Wyoming (3)

    http://www.cookpolitical.com/races/report_pdfs/2008%20elec_vote_apr3.pdf



    Lou Jacobson's Updated List of 19 Battleground States (March 6, 2008)

    Click here for interactive graphics for Lou Jacobson's updated list of 19 battleground states.

    Out There:
    'Purple' states turn a little more 'blue'
    By Louis Jacobson, Stateline.org Columnist
    March 6, 2008

    Last July — a lifetime ago in the 2008 presidential race — "Out There" rated 19 battleground states on how likely each was to vote Republican or Democratic in the general election. Eight months later, the list of states that are neither solidly Republican "red" nor Democratic "blue" remains the same. But within those battleground states, Democrats have been methodically gaining ground.

    While there are differences in how U.S. Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) or Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) would fare in November, Out There's latest state-by-state projection gives either Democrat a modest electoral-vote edge against U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), though not enough to clinch the presidency.

    Because presidents aren't elected by a nationwide vote but rather state by state through electoral votes, this year's race — as in 2000 and 2004 — is likely to come down to a select group of "Toss-Up" states where the presidential preferences are too close to call. Last July, just three states — Iowa, New Mexico and Ohio — qualified for Toss-Up status. Since then, Virginia, previously ranked as Likely Republican, and Missouri, formerly Lean Republican, have shifted to the Toss-Up category, regardless of who the Democratic nominee is.

    If it's Obama, Colorado also shifts from Lean Republican to Toss-Up while Iowa drops off the too-close-to-call list to Lean Democratic. If it's Clinton, then Arkansas — where she served as first lady in the governor's mansion — comes into play.

    Despite Obama's strength in red-state caucuses and McCain's appeal as a moderate, this analysis keeps the number of "purple" states — those neither safely red nor blue but still up for grabs — at its original 19, at least at this stage of the most wide-open presidential contest in at least half a century.

    Eleven of these states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia) voted for President George W. Bush in 2004. Eight (Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin) voted for U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D). This analysis divides the 19 states into five categories — Likely Democratic, Lean Democratic, Toss-Up, Lean Republican, Likely Republican — based on polling data and discussions with roughly 40 state-based political experts.

    Driven by a range of factors — including continued disaffection with President Bush, worries about the economy and a surge in fundraising and voter energy — the general trend since last July has been incremental movement in the Democrats' direction.

    Adding the Safe, Likely and Lean Democratic states leaves an Obama-led ticket well-positioned to win 259 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, compared to 221 for McCain. A ticket headed by Clinton would lead McCain a bit more narrowly, 252-224.

    Despite the two Democrats' prospective strength in November, their electoral vote maps do look a bit different. Four states worth 74 electoral votes — Arkansas, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania — would be easier for Clinton to win, though to varying degrees. Six states worth 49 electoral votes — Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia — should be easier for Obama.

    Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats seem to be holding on to their purple states. No Lean Democratic state has yet slipped into the Toss-Up category. The Democrats seem to be holding on in four blue-collar states hit hard by the economic slowdown (Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin) as well as in three potentially competitive states in the Pacific Northwest and New England (Oregon, Washington and New Hampshire).

    The good news for the Republicans is that McCain would do better than any other Republican candidate would have in essentially all of these states. Almost no other Republican would be as close as he is in the electoral math. Indeed, this analysis shifts Oregon from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic because of some polls showing the Arizona senator within striking distance. Still, major Republican shifts in Democratic-held purple states have yet to materialize.

    The states moving toward the Democrats are diverse. In Virginia, Democrats, buoyed by the growing electoral influence of the moderate-to-liberal Washington suburbs, followed up wins for governor and a U.S. Senate seat by taking over the state Senate in 2007. Even last year, polls began showing strength for Democratic presidential candidates. Obama won the Virginia primary, though either Democratic candidate should make a strong run in the fall.

    Meanwhile, Missouri also seems to be moving in the Democrats' direction. Analysts within the state say that Missouri's role as the quintessential bellwether state — voting for every presidential winner save one over the past century — has kept its leanings closely tied to the national disaffection with Republicans, including President Bush and Gov. Matt Blunt (R). Blunt was so unpopular he declined to seek a second term this year.

    Obama likely would run more strongly than Clinton would in a swath of Mountain West states where she and her husband, the former president, have never been too popular. Obama has inspired strong support in Colorado, where a Democratic surge already has been under way for several years, and both he and possibly Clinton stand to make Nevada a more competitive state than it had seemed last July. The high-profile Nevada caucuses produced a surge in new Democratic voters, and the constant influx of newcomers means lots of Nevadans who aren't wedded to the state's historical Republican leanings

    Iowa, which went narrowly for Bush in 2004 after voting for Democratic nominee Al Gore in 2000, also looks stronger for Obama than for Clinton, after his stunning caucus victory that bequeathed him a strong ground operation and lots of energized supporters.

    As the nominee, Clinton still could win in Iowa. And she runs stronger than Obama in several other states.

    The most crucial of these is Ohio, the deciding state in the 2004 election; she won Ohio's primary on March 4. Clinton also would run much stronger than Obama in Arkansas, where she lived from the 1970s until Bill Clinton was elected president, and somewhat stronger in West Virginia, where the demographics fit better with her base of support (blue-collar whites) than with Obama's (African-Americans and urban and suburban liberals). However, in both West Virginia and Arkansas, McCain is well-positioned to keep those states red regardless of the nominee.

    In two other big, pivotal states, Pennsylvania and Florida, Clinton might run somewhat stronger than Obama. While Obama would be expected to do well in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metropolitan areas, Pennsylvania is home to many blue-collar white voters who were warmer to Clinton than Obama during the primaries. (Pennsylvania has its primary April 22.) For now, analysts concur that Pennsylvania still qualifies as Lean Democratic regardless of the nominee, though its rating is iffier than it was last July. A late February Quinnipiac poll found both Democrats in a statistical dead heat with McCain.

    The trends in Florida are harder to pin down. A mid-February Quinnipiac University poll found both Democrats essentially tied with McCain, with Clinton faring slightly better than Obama. Obama would energize black voters, whose low turnout in recent elections has helped Republican showings. But McCain is popular among seniors and veterans, and he has the strong support of the state's popular GOP governor, Charlie Crist, a moderate. For now, Out There is keeping Florida at Lean Republican.

    But as this zigzag primary season has shown, the electoral situation can change overnight — and there's lots of time between now and November.

    Battleground states: Republican to Democratic

    Obama vs. McCain ranking

    1. West Virginia (5 electoral votes): Likely Republican
    2. Arkansas (6 electoral votes): Likely Republican
    3. Florida (27 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    4. Arizona (10 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    5. Nevada (5 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    6. Colorado (9 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    7. Virginia (13 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    8. Missouri (11 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    9. Ohio (20 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    10. New Mexico (5 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    11. Iowa (7 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    12. Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    13. (tie) Maine (4 electoral votes*): Lean Democratic
    13. (tie) Wisconsin (10 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    13. (tie) Michigan (17 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    13. (tie) Minnesota (10 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    17. Oregon (7 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    18. New Hampshire (4 electoral votes): Likely Democratic
    19. Washington (11 electoral votes): Likely Democratic

    Clinton vs. McCain ranking

    1. West Virginia (5 electoral votes): Likely Republican
    2. Arizona (10 electoral votes): Likely Republican
    3. Nevada (5 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    4. Florida (27 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    5. Colorado (9 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    6. Arkansas (6 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    7. New Mexico (5 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    8. Missouri (11 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    9. Virginia (13 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    10. Iowa (7 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    11. Ohio (20 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    12. (tie) Maine (4 electoral votes*): Lean Democratic
    12. (tie) Wisconsin (10 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    12. (tie) Michigan (17 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    12. (tie) Minnesota (10 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    16. Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    17. Oregon (7 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    18. New Hampshire (4 electoral votes): Likely Democratic
    19. Washington (11 electoral votes): Likely Democratic

    July 2007 Ranking

    1. Virginia (13 electoral votes): Likely Republican
    2. Nevada (5 electoral votes): Likely Republican
    3. Florida (27 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    4. Arizona (10 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    5. West Virginia (5 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    6. Colorado (9 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    7. Arkansas (6 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    8. Missouri (11 electoral votes): Lean Republican
    9. Ohio (20 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    10. New Mexico (5 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    11. Iowa (7 electoral votes): Toss-Up
    12. Wisconsin (10 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    13. Minnesota (10 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    14. Michigan (17 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    15. Maine (4 electoral votes*): Lean Democratic
    16. Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
    17. Oregon (7 electoral votes): Likely Democratic
    18. New Hampshire (4 electoral votes): Likely Democratic
    19. Washington (11 electoral votes): Likely Democratic

    *Maine allocates electoral votes in part by Congressional district.




    Rasmussen Reports Lists 19 Battleground States (February 19, 2008)

    The Rasmussen Reports 2008 Balance of Power Calculator listed (on February 19, 2008) 19 battleground states for the 2008 presidential election. The remaining 31 states are listed as either "safely Democratic" or "safely Republican."

    On the same day, Rasmussen Reports posted a nationwide popular vote poll showing McCain at 47% and Clinton at 43%—meaning that Clinton would win in the Electoral College while McCain would win the national popular vote. On the same day, Rasmussen Reports posted a nationwide popular vote poll showing Obama at 46% and McCain at 43%—meaning that the Electoral College outcome matched the national popular vote.

    11 Safely Democratic (154 electoral votes)
    California (55)
    Connecticut (7)
    District of Columbia (3)
    Hawaii (4)
    Illinois (21)
    Maine (4)
    Maryland (10)
    Massachusetts (12)
    New York (31)
    Rhode Island (4)
    Vermont (3)

    8 Likely Democratic (94 electoral votes)
    Delaware (3)
    Michigan (17)
    Minnesota (10)
    New Jersey (15)
    Oregon (7)
    Pennsylvania (21)
    Washington (11)
    Wisconsin (10)

    4 Leans Democratic (36 electoral votes)
    Iowa (7)
    New Hampshire (4)
    New Mexico (5)
    Ohio (20)

    4 Toss-Up (38 electoral votes)
    Colorado (9)
    Missouri (11)
    Nevada (5)
    Virginia (13)

    1 Leans Republican (27 electoral votes)
    Florida (27)

    2 Likely Republican (11 electoral votes):
    Arkansas (6)
    West Virginia (5)

    Safely Republican (178 electoral votes)
    Alabama (9)
    Alaska (3)
    Arizona (10)
    Georgia (15)
    Idaho (4)
    Indiana (11)
    Kansas (6)
    Kentucky (8)
    Louisiana (9)
    Mississippi (6)
    Montana (3)
    Nebraska (5)
    North Carolina (15
    ) North Dakota (3)
    Oklahoma (7)
    South Carolina (8)
    South Dakota (3)
    Tennessee (11)
    Texas (34)
    Utah (5)
    Wyoming (3)



    Lou Jacobson's List of 19 Battleground States (July 19, 2007)

    Political analyst Lou Jacobson listed (on July 19, 2007) 19 battleground states for the 2008 presidential election. The remaining 31 states are listed as either "safely Democratic" or "safely Republican."

    The complete article contains an interactive map.

    In order from most Republican to most Democratic, the 19 battleground states for the 2008 presidential election are

    2 Likely Republican
    Virginia (13 electoral votes)
    Nevada (5 electoral votes)

    6 Lean Republican
    Florida (27 electoral votes)
    Arizona (10 electoral votes)
    West Virginia (5 electoral votes)
    Colorado (9 electoral votes)
    Arkansas (6 electoral votes)
    Missouri (11 electoral votes)

    3 Toss-Up
    Ohio (20 electoral votes)
    New Mexico (5 electoral votes)
    Iowa (7 electoral votes)

    5 Lean Democratic
    Wisconsin (10 electoral votes)
    Minnesota (10 electoral votes)
    Michigan (17 electoral votes)
    Maine (4 electoral votes)
    Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes)

    3 Likely Democratic
    Oregon (7 electoral votes)
    New Hampshire (4 electoral votes)
    Washington state (11 electoral votes)

    Forty-eight states currently use the winner-take-all rule that awards all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state.

    Under the winner-take-all rule, candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the concerns of voters of states that they cannot possibly win or lose. This means that voters in two thirds of the states are effectively disenfranchised in presidential elections because candidates concentrate their attention on a small handful of "battleground" states. In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits to win votes in just five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in just 16 states.

    The spectator states in presidential elections include 12 of the 13 least populous states (all but New Hampshire); 9 of the nation's 13 most populous states (California, Texas, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Massachusetts).


    Reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote reflects the nationwide popular vote for President