Presidential Campaign: The Usual States

By Samantha Hayes in Washington

The focus of the campaigns heading into the last stretch of the presidential election is narrowing.  You can tell by just looking at the candidates’ travel plans. Both Barack Obama and John McCain and their running mates have a heavy schedule of events heading into states offering a substantial payoff of electoral votes: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Florida.

But it wasn’t long ago when political strategists were talking about an interesting possibility- that states with fewer electoral votes could change the path to the White House, and influence the strategy of the campaigns. Questions like “Could Georgia go blue? Maybe North Carolina, too?’” And whether victories together in western states like Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico could offset a loss in a big battleground like Ohio.

But now, with just 50 days to go, it may be time to tighten the campaign buckle, especially around the Rust Belt where economic conditions are hitting working class voters hard. McCain’s vice presidential pick of Sarah Palin seems to be another reason why those red and blue lines are not as blurry.  Working class voters and conservatives who like her position on fiscal and social issues are reinforcing those traditional battle lines.

That doesn’t mean that other states can’t be pivotal.  A lot attention is being paid to Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa and Missouri. And Obama’s campaign has indicated that it is still confident about southern states that may provide another path to that golden number: 270 electoral votes. But a recent CNN average of polls in one battleground state indicates that Obama and McCain will need all the support they can muster.  In the Buckeye State, where you hear the well worn cliche “as Ohio goes, so goes the nation,” Republican presidential nominee John McCain is the choice of 46 percent of likely Ohio voters, one point ahead of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Nine percent of those voters were undecided.  Get ready for a battle on familiar terrain.

Samantha Hayes is a national correspondent for CNN Newsource based in Washington, D.C. She contributes political stories to KSAT-12. You can learn more about her here.

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