With a new poll by Rasmussen out in New Mexico, I wanted to take a brief look at the electoral map as it stands today.
This is a six point improvement for McCain in what has generally been fairly reliable Obama territory. While some of it, like the national polls, is attributable to the “bounce,” it is an[other] encouraging sign for the McCain campaign.
First, the Kerry states. It seems fairly likely that Obama wins most, if not all, of the Kerry states. Yes, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all in play (in order of likelihood of victory for McCain). If McCain can win any of those 4, he will almost certainly be elected President. More on that later.
Unfortunately this election has been centered largely around the Bush states, both due to the state of the race as well as the superior ability of the Obama campaign, until recently, to characterize the race as one on red territory. For instance, their laughable insistence that they could win in Georgia and North Carolina has generated buzz in the past. They also have talked about winning states like Indiana and Montana, which at one point seemed like a possibility.
In a close election, however, these states likely will not go blue, and recent polls in North Carolina and Montana confirm this. But there are still some states that Bush won which are open to assault. Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, and Virginia, to be specific (in terms of most likely for Obama to peel off).
Ohio is interesting and one with which I am familiar, as I live here. I never thought that Obama could win Ohio in a close race. I still don’t. There are too many factors for him to overcome. Also, recently it seems that the Obama campaign is realizing this (which is a mistake Gore made in 2000).
Virginia and Ohio will be close fights, within 2 points, but McCain probably wins them in a close national election. Florida…well, if McCain loses Florida, he’s losing a lot of other states at that point and none of this matters.
Finally, it comes down to Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. Iowa probably goes Obama in a close election. Assuming that McCain does not win one of the Kerry states, he absolutely must win New Mexico or Nevada (most likely), and Colorado. What it all boils down to is Rocky Mountain Colorado, folks. If Obama can win there, he probably will win the Electoral College.
The McCain campaign needs to invest heavily in the Southwest (and Michigan). That is where the election will be won. Not in Ohio, not in Virginia.