Barack Obama has been campaigning across the country, including some areas that have been highly coveted Republican areas like Florida, which has 27 electoral votes. Since August, Obama has closed McCain’s 10-point gap McCain in the Sunshine State to 2 points in late September. McCain significant boost in popularity following the RNC and Palin’s nomination has begun to recede, with some regional and national trends reverting back to Obama.
Mike Allen and Alexander Burn of Politico.com consider Obama’s rising strength in these areas dangerously decisive:
But with states like Florida, Virginia and, in the mountain West, Colorado and Nevada looking increasingly favorable to Obama, McCain may not be able to reach 270 by picking off just one or two of these Midwestern swing states. If Obamaâ€™s upward trend continues, McCain would have to run the tables in these states, or win a big surprise victory elsewhere, in order to make up for it.
Indeed, signs do show several emerging hurdles for the McCain-Palin campaign. Obama and McCain are neck-in-neck in places like Virginia (13 electoral votes), and within 4.5 points from one another in Missouri (11 electoral votes). Consistently key Republican states like Texas largely remain unaffected by Obama (as do consistently Democratic states like California), but in all likelihood it is the current swing-states that will determine the outcome of the November elections. Two of these current swing states are Florida and Virginia.
For the last two elections, Florida’s and Virginia’s electorates decisively went to George Bush. In Virginia. Bush led by 8 points in both in 2000 and in 2004. In Florida, Bush led by 5 points against Kerry in 2004, and by less than 1 point against Gore in 2000. Some of these close races are less about Obama than they are of larger and older shifts. In 2006, Virginia showed significant improvement in Democratic strength, and Florida has revealed ambivalence to either party in the past several elections. Yet these close races in Virginia and Florida reflect a weakened Republican base. The last time a Democrat won the presidential ballot in Virginia was with Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Although Florida is often considered a swing state, it has only voted for a Democratic president three times in the last 44 years: Lyndon John in 1964, Jimmy Carter in 1976, and Bill Clinton in 1996.
While Florida and Virginia are up for grabs, so are the electoral rich states of Ohio (20) and Pennsylvania (21). For the last two presidential races, a Republican win in Ohio and Florida spelled victory. With so many Republican swing states like Nevada and Indiana, this is no longer the case.
As of September 23, 2008, Obama is winning the electoral race 282 votes to McCain’s 236 due to an indecisive Ohio and a marginal lead in Pennsylvania. At this point, a McCain victory would require him tipping the scale in both these states, as well as retaining Florida and the marginal areas that right now include Indiana and New Hampshire.