Obama vs. McCain: a quick glance
While John McCain has been rising in the polls due to his recent pick of a running mate, the state-by-state numbers tell a different story. After all, for all the benefit that Sarah Palin brings to John McCain in Alabama, it doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference, since that's not a state that Barack Obama was terribly likely to win anyway. Since the Electoral College remains winner-take-all, John McCain winning Alabama by 20% is the same result as if he won Alabama by 5%.
MSNBC's Chuck Todd figures that Obama's got 260 electoral votes more or less safely in his column. I figure Obama has 264 reliable electoral votes. The only difference between what Chuck Todd and I think is that I don't see New Hampshire as that vulnerable.
The way I get 264 is that I figure Obama's going to win all the states John Kerry won (252 electoral votes) plus Iowa (7 electoral votes) and New Mexico (5 electoral votes.) Since I figure Obama's got New Hampshire's 4 electoral votes fairly secure, there are only five more to go.
Obama will need to win one more state in addition to what I predict in order to pull off a squeaker. That would be most likely one of the following:
There are other Bush 2004 states that could go Republican again but also might flip Democratic. Those are states like North Carolina, Missouri, Nevada, Montana, and North Dakota. However, I don't see those states flipping Democratic without one of the five states I listed above also going Democratic, so those states are gravy, though definitely worth campaigning in. (The Obama campaign was once hopeful of winning Georgia but recently pulled up stakes there. I suspect this is the Sarah Palin effect, but I don't know. Before Palin was selected, I would have also added Alaska to this maybe list, but not anymore.)
The only Kerry state that I see McCain having a real shot at peeling away is Michigan. At 17 electoral votes, that would be a big prize, and would leave the Democrats scrambling to make up the difference. For my part, I'm keeping an eye on Michigan as a true bellwether in this campaign. I figure that it McCain is winning in Michigan, that means he'll most likely take Ohio, as well. But if Obama is winning in Michigan, that doesn't necessarily mean the same thing for him. Sure, Obama could very well win Ohio and Michigan both, but Ohio without Michigan, too? Not at all likely.
State by state, it's a better picture for Obama, but I wouldn't say this thing's over yet.