At this point, there are really no more than eight states that are going to matter, based on their battleground status and their electoral votes. These are the states we should be primarily focused on, over the next few weeks, and these are the states that McCain should be focused on, to varying degrees. The states are in three categories: Must Have, Nice to Have, and Needs to Have.
The first group, the Must Haves, are the *Big Red 3 battleground states: Ohio (where I live), Florida, and Virginia. * There is no realistic path to victory without all three of these states. This is nothing new, and we had hoped McCain would be up more (or at all) in each of these by now. It appears that Ohio and Florida are trending Red in the last 5 days. Virginia, however, has been between Obama +6 and Obama +10 over the last 10 days (although the only poll in the last 5 days shows a trend to McCain, that trend only gets to Obama +6). Virginia must go Red to win.
The Nice to Have is Pennsylvania. Assuming that the Big Red 3 all go to McCain, McCain remains 21 EV’s short of 270. PA provides that all by itself. Recent polls are about Obama +10, so that’s tough to overcome (though Kerry only beat Bush by 2 points). In some bizarro electoral world, I suppose it’s possible to lose Virginia and replace it with Pennsylvania, but I don’t see how that happens realistically. We really need someone to follow Murtha around with a microphone, to help with the “rednecks” in Western PA.
The Needs to Have group includes* Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. * Assuming that Virginia goes Red and PA stays Blue, McCain needs Missouri + 2 of the other 3 to get to 270. MO has a Suffolk poll on 10/17 – 10/19 with McCain +1 and a Fox/Rasmussen poll from 10/19 with Obama +5. This could be a nailbiter, but I look to anyone from Missouri to provide more information. Colorado has been pretty stable at Obama +5 over the last two weeks. Nevada has had Obama up between 2 and 5 points over the couple of weeks, though no poll in the last 5 days when McCain has started to make some inroads nationally. New Mexico hasn’t had a poll in over a week, but has Obama up between 5 – 13 points in the last few weeks (13 in the latest poll). New Hampshire could possibly replace NV or NM, as it went Bush in 2000 and Kerry in 2004.
*If anyone has their pulse on Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico or Nevada, I would appreciate diaries or comments. *