Obama Hopes To Alter Electoral Map

Barack Obama's Democratic presidential campaign could alter the electoral map that decides the White House. Virginia has been a traditionally red state, but Obama has been working hard to make it a blue state. Other states that could swing Obama's way include Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Iowa.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Think of that choice in Virginia's mountains as one of many that affect a close vote for that state which in turn could alter the electoral map, which we'll talk about next. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson is with us. And Mara, Virginia is one place where Democrats are competing where they haven't been able to in the past. Where else?

MARA LIASSON: Well, there are a lot of places that all of a sudden Barack Obama is competing where Democrats didn't win last time. Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio is always a battleground state, New Mexico, Iowa looks very good for him. I mean, he has a lot of ways to get to 270 electoral votes. That's what's happened recently. The electoral map seems to be shifting in his direction. And even in states that are pure tossups, he is leading by a little bit in current statewide polling.

INSKEEP: So Barack Obama's got the money to gamble a little bit on some of these states to take a chance and see if he can get over the 270 electoral votes that decide the election. What about John McCain?

LIASSON: John McCain has a much narrower path to winning. He just pulled out of a very important state, Michigan, one of those blue states that he had hoped to turn red. He needs to hang on to everything that Bush got in 2004. And assuming that Barack Obama is going to pick up a couple of those Bush states, he needed to win some blue states. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Hampshire were all places where McCain had hoped to be competitive. Michigan just dropped off the list. Pennsylvania is looking more and more solid for Obama. So is Minnesota and Wisconsin. He just has fewer resources to play with, and that's why he has to drop out of a state like Michigan. He's basically doing triage.

INSKEEP: But what is happening in the election that's giving Obama more chances to play on Republican turf than the other way around?

LIASSON: Two things. One is he has so many more resources than John McCain. And also the economy. The economy was always part of the wind at the back of the Democrats. But with the latest financial crisis on Wall Street, all of a sudden the landscape that was tilted to Democrats got even more steeply tilted to them.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson. And by the way, you can check out NPR's electoral map and work with it to make your own predictions about the 2008 presidential election. Just go to npr.org.

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