Saturday, November 1, 2008

Which Battleground States Must McCain Win?

Looking at all the polls out there, the general consensus is that Sen. Barack Obama has more than the 270 electoral votes he needs to become the next president of the United States.

So, what does Sen. John McCain have to do in order to win?

There are 20 states in which McCain is safely ahead. They are Alabama (9 electoral votes), Alaska (3), Arizona (10), Arkansas (6), Georgia (15), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (34), Utah (5), West Virginia (5) and Wyoming (3).

Some polls have Arizona, North Dakota and Georgia in play. Matter of fact, Obama is making a huge media buy in Arizona during the final hours of the race. But the bottom line is that McCain cannot afford to lose any of these states. They account for 160 electoral votes, which is 90 short of what he needs.

The toss-up states are Indiana (11), Missouri (11), Montana (3), North Carolina (15), Nevada (5), and Ohio (20). George Bush won all those states in 2004, and they account for 65 electoral votes. Polls in these states are to close to call, and McCain has to win them all. But even then, he's 45 electoral votes short.

That means he needs a few states that are leaning toward Obama in the polls. The most likely candidates are Florida (27), North Carolina (13) and Colorado (9), where polls have Obama up by three to five percentage points. Winning all of them would put him over the top at 274, but he would have to come from behind to grab them.

McCain is pushing hard in Pennsylvania (21). There must be internal polls telling his campaign that it is possible for him to win there, but the external public polls all have Obama with strong leads. Some even say Obama is up by as much as 14 percentage points in Pennsylvania. If he did snag the Keystone state, it would give him some breathing room elsewhere in the country.

Still, all in all, a tall order for the Arizona senator in the coming days.

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