The Rasmussen Report (http://tinyurl.com/2lja5e) update gives us a pretty good idea of what states will count in the upcoming presidential election. Certain states, like New York (Obama) and Alabama (McCain) are pretty much decided and only a shocking event (like a mental breakdown by one candidate or the other) will change that. The report calculates that Obama now has 185 and McCain 174 electorial votes from these decided states. What is left is 179 electorial votes from 14 states.
Of the 15 states in play, the Democrats won six of them last time: New Hampshire (4), Pennsylvania (21), Michigan (17), Wisconsin (10), and Minnesota (10) for a total of 61 electorial votes. The republicans won nine of them: Colorado (9), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), Ohio (20), Virginia (13), Iowa (7), Florida (27), Missouri (11), and North Carolina (15) for a total of 112 electorial votes.
Of the 173 total electorial votes now up for grabs, Obama needs to win 85 to get to 270 to win.
The latest Rasmussen poll shows Obama winning Minnesota by 13 points. That pretty much puts it into the safe category for Obama. So, he really needs 75 out of 163 electorial votes in the remaining 14 states.
Here is the percentage by which each in-play state was won in the 2004 election: States for Kerry; Wisconsin (.5), New Hampshire (1.7), Pennsylvania (2.2), Michigan (3.4). States for Bush; Iowa (.9), New Mexico (1.1), Ohio (2.5), Nevada (2.6), Florida (5), Colorado (6.2), Missouri (7.3), Virginia (8.7), North Carolina (12.4).
Obama may be able to defend New Hampshire (4), Pennsylvania (21) and Michigan (17) and Wisconsin (10) for 51 of the 75 votes he needs. He is leading slightly by 2 or 3 points in the most recent state polls and it is hard to believe that after four more years of Bush, any of these states will turn from the Democratic column into the Republican column. Polls in Colorado (9), New Mexico (5), and Iowa (7) show him 6 or more points ahead. This gives him another 22 votes, or 73 out of the 75 he needs. This means that Obama needs to win just one of the following states to become president: Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Virginia, or North Carolina.
The latest polls in these states show, Florida (McCain 10%), Nevada (McCain 6%), Virginia, (McCain 3%), North Carolina (McCain 2%), Ohio (McCain by 1%) Missouri, (Obama 1%).
While the coming presidential campaigns will be fought fiercely in all 14 of the in-play states, one may guess that everything is going to boil down to Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Missouri. It is quite likely that both vice-presidential candidates will come from these five states.