Virginia Electoral College Votes : 13
Virginia has not voted Democratic in a presidential race since 1964. But with Barack Obama and John McCain running neck and neck, Virginia, once a securely red state, is increasingly turning purple.
Much of the Democratic support comes from northern Virginia, home to affluent professionals who commute to work in Washington DC. In the past three years, the state has elected a Democratic governor and senator.
But unlike the leafy suburbs near DC, the rural Virginian heartland is still Republican. And Virginia’s considerable conservative base seems to have embraced McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin. It was in Virginia after all, that Obama’s “putting lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” remark was seen as an allusion to Palin, creating a national uproar.
Ohio Electoral College Votes : 20
Often referred to as “the state that begins and ends with an ‘o,’” Ohio has long been a carefully monitored state. Considered a microcosm of the country and a barometer of the mood in the American Midwest, Ohio has a considerable 20 electoral college votes up for grabs. What’s more, it is home to a predominantly industrial working class population that is keenly attuned to the nation’s economic pulse.
With the economy emerging at the top of US voter concerns, Ohioans could hold the key to the 2008 White House race – and they know it. In 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush narrowly took Ohio. Democrats hope that a recent strong showing in the state’s congressional races will be mirrored in the presidential contest on Nov. 4.
NevadaElectoral College Votes : 5
Although a traditionally Republican state, Nevada has turned into a “battleground state” in the 2008 race due to a recent population boom that has re-jiggered the state’s demographic and political map. One of the fastest-growing states in the US, Nevada has seen an influx of a predominantly Hispanic, heavily unionized work force, especially in Las Vegas.
Democrats believe these are factors that will work to their advantage in 2008. But concerns over immigration in some pockets of the population could benefit the Republicans. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush only narrowly won over Democrat John Kerry in Nevada.
Colorado Electoral College Votes: 9
Located in the picturesque Rocky Mountain region, Colorado has traditionally voted Republican. But the Democrats chose the capital, Denver, to host their 2008 national convention, underlining a shift in Coloradan politics in recent years.
Rapid urbanization accompanied by a growing Hispanic population have contributed to the state’s leftward slide. In 2007, Coloradans elected a Democrat as governor. One of Colorado’s two senators is a Democrat.
Minnesota Electoral College Votes: 10
Opinion is divided in some circles on whether Minnesota is indeed a swing state. Ardent supporters of Barack Obama argue that Minnesota has been and will always be Democratic. But the Obama campaign is taking no chances.
The state has a quirky political culture: it is the only US state to vote a former pro-wrestler as governor (Jesse Ventura, in 1998). Minnesota now has a Republican governor and one of its two senators is also Republican.
The fact that the GOP picked Minnesota’s capital, St. Paul, to host the Republican convention suggests the party is turning its sights on the Midwestern state.
Wisconsin Electoral College Votes: 10
In 2000 and 2004, Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry managed to take this state – but very narrowly, making it a prime target for John McCain’s camp in the 2008 race.
McCain will try to woo independents and conservative Democrats. But Wisconsin borders Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois and many Wisconsinites are familiar with the popular senator from Illinois.
Michigan Electoral College Votes: 17
Once an assured Democrat state, Michigan is a new entrant in the battleground ranks. Home to Detroit, the “Motor City,” Michigan has been the automotive heart of the American working class.
But the 1980s saw a switch of white working class voters who gravitated to Ronald Reagan, attracted by his conservative social values. A strong union presence has traditionally kept this state Democratic.
But a recent poor showing of Michigan’s Democratic politicians, especially former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was charged with felony while in office, has not served Barack Obama’s campaign well.
Florida Electoral College Votes: 27
In 2000, Florida turned into the eye of the storm when a knife-edged vote led to a controversial recount that was marred by lost votes and faulty ballots, winding its way through the courts and up to the Supreme Court.
Polls in this critical state, the fourth most populous in the nation with a whopping 27 electoral college votes, show Barack Obama and John McCain in a dead heat coming out of the conventions.
While McCain is looking to retain Florida’s heavy military vote, Obama’s camp has its eye on the Democratic base of senior citizens who have retired in the Sunshine State and younger Floridians hurting under the country’s economic woes.