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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

'08 Battleground States Bode Well for Obama

In the past two election cycles, it's been the same story: the West and Northeast go Democrat, the Midwest and South go Republican, leaving Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to decide the election.

This year, things are shaping up differently, and that may be good news for Barack Obama. The reason has a lot to do with the Democratic victories in the 2006 midterm elections.

Current polling data suggests that if the election were held today, Obama would eke out a razor-thin, 6-electoral vote victory over John McCain in the general election. However, McCain is either trailing or holding only marginal leads in a number of states that went red in 2004. If the direction these states have voted since then is any kind of indicator, Obama is poised to add these states to his bank as insurance in what will be a comfortable win over McCain in November.

Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, and New Mexico all went to George W. Bush. It's not often that you hear of "up-ticket" candidates benefiting from popular candidates for lower offices. But this time around, recent and potential Democratic victories in these states have the Obama campaign looking to cash in. Let's take a look at how the election is progressing in each of these:

Iowa

For the first time since the 90's, Iowa is on the brink of voting Democrat. Though it's always enjoyed a mixed ideological preference, the Hawkeye State seems to have made up its mind this time around. Pollsters have been asking Iowans whether they prefer Obama or McCain since December of 2006. Not once has McCain emerged in front. The most recent survey data, conducted by SurveyUSA, gives Obama a nine-point edge. That's hot on the heels of a Rasmussen poll that had the Illinois Senator up by eight.

Virginia

Virginia is one of those states onto which McCain is clinging for dear life as Obama continues to surge in popularity. With a solid chunk of 13 electoral votes, he'll put up a firefight not to lose it. But in the past several years, a wave of blue has swept over the northernmost of the Dixie states. After edging out a historic victory of his own, Democrat Mark Warner became one of the most popular governors in recent memory, performing well enough to get his successor, Democrat Tim Kaine, elected right after. In 2006, Jim Webb unseated Republican George Allen, the popular Senator who had been considering a presidential bid. And now, with Warner the runaway favorite to succeed the other retiring GOP Senator, Virginia may be ready to complete it's Democratic crossover. The lead has been ping-ponging back and forth between the two candidates- SurveyUSA put Obama up 7. Rasmussen put McCain up 3.

Colorado

The Rocky Mountain State is an almost assured flipper for Obama, having gone for Bush in '04. With the recent election of Democratic Governor Bill Ritter, and the strong candidacy of Democrat Mark Udall for Colorado's open Senate seat, 2008 may be a great year for Obama in Colorado. Rasmussen has released a flurry of polls there showing Obama with a lead of anywhere from 3 to 8 points.

North Carolina

Obama woke up a new demographic in North Carolina with a massive victory in the primary there. But if his luck and popularity hold among not only African American voters, but rural white ones as well, he could snatch one that John McCain is counting on right now. Public Policy Polling puts Obama within three points of the Arizona Senator there.

Missouri

Like Virginia and North Carolina, Missouri is in the McCain column...for now. A once strong lead for the GOP nominee has been shrinking consistently. SurveyUSA now puts Obama just three points behind McCain. And considering the extreme unpopularity of Missouri's Republican Governor, Matt Blunt (son of GOP Rep. Roy Blunt), coupled with the recent upset election of Senator Claire McCaskill, a lot of Missourians may head to the polls and vote blue across the board. That could have a strong aggregate effect, shifting the state into Obama's pocket.

New Mexico

The way it's looking right now, Obama is headed to victory in New Mexico, where he's been endorsed by Governor Bill Richardson. Democratic Rep. Tom Udall (the cousin of Colorado's Democratic Senatorial Candidate) is the favorite to become New Mexico's second Democratic Senator. And with the shakeup of offices, Democrats may be picking up a few House seats there as well. When it all comes down to it, it's a Democratic year for New Mexico. Obama leads McCain by 9 points, according to the latest numbers from Rasmussen.

Ohio

Go figure: Obama didn't even win the primary here, but he's favored in Ohio. The RCP Average puts Obama ahead by just under two points, a margin that's way too close for McCain's comfort, especially considering that the state went Republican in both 2000 and 2004.

Indiana

McCain and Obama are neck and neck in Indiana, according to polling data from a number of different sources. This is another state that's typically a reliable GOP stronghold. But Democrats won a handful of seats here in the 2006 midterms, and Obama could potentially ride the frustrations of Hoosier voters over the economy right into the White House.

Read jwilkes’s Last Article: Clinton's Future Depends on a Gracious Concession to Obama

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