The criteria for this list is as follows: 1) States are listed here with the most generous definition of "swing" possible. So don't freak out because Minnesota is there - this is a very generous listing, because I am trying to be as conservative as possible going into election night. 2) States are listed in order of importance, coupled with how realistically "swing" they are. For example, a highly ranked state on this list is a combination VERY important in the election AND highly volatile for some reason. A state ranked low on the list is either NOT that important to victory or unlikely to really swing one way or ther other. So here goes:
- Pennsylvannia - If Obama wins PA, it is VERY difficult for McCain to get to 270. Obama had a large lead in polls up until today, when an new NBC poll had Obama up only 4 points. Many pundits said that McCain should have given up PA, but he couldn't really, because he almost HAS to win here. Example: If you are a Republican and you take a REALISTIC view of the electoral map (Obama is VERY likely to win MN, IA, NM, and NH) then losing PA means McCain needs to win every other state on this list except for NV. Considering that McCain is behind in the polls in most of the states on THAT list, if you are a Republican you are stocking up on Budweiser or Jack Daniels or whatever, and you are making your drinks stiff early in the night should PA really go blue.
- Florida - If Obama wins PA and FL, it's all over but the crying for McCain. In almost any scenario, FL is pretty much a must win for McCain. All the polls really tell us about Florida is that it is close and don't watch the local news in Orlando.
- Virginia - I heard there are commies in Virginia. Well, if there are enough of them and this state votes Obama, again, McCain's electoral math becomes very dificult. Also, I think that Republicans would probably start to give up hope at this point. Realistic electoral math puts Obama over the top with PA and VA - the rout might be on.
- Ohio - If Joe The Idiot (Plumber) doesn't symbolize many of the things that are wrong with America, then nothing does. Again, PA and OH put Obama over the top no matter what else happens.
- North Carolina - In a way, winning in the late Jesse Helms' state would be piling on - talk of 370+ electoral votes would follow any media declaration that Obama has won here. But I think it is important psychologically for Obama to win NC, to show he has appeal in "Red" state America. Also, it would mean that Liddy Dole probably loses her bid to be re-elected to the Senate. That's a race near the top of my list - posting on that sometime soon.
- Colorado - I believe that there is a semi-realistic 269-269 scenario out there. If Colorado goes blue, that scenario is no longer possible. If you start with the 2004 final map, change IA, NM and NV from red to blue, you end with a 269 tie. That's not that far fetched. Colorado voting for Obama makes a tie almost impossible.
- Missouri - Obama drew 100K+ at a rally there last week. Polls say that it will be close and impossible to pick a winner. But the results from other states above may have already decided the race. If they haven't, it will be a MUST win for either side. There is a way to view this state as the Florida of 2000 in this election.
- New Mexico - Polls have this state firmly blue, which is why it is low on my list. Plus it is out west, and the election may have been decided before the polls even close there.
- Nevada - Same as NM.
- New Hampshire - Probably gos for Obama - BUT: As an early closer out east, look for a lot of momentum should McCain be declared a winner there. It's always been an INDEPENDENT loving place. If they are buying it still from McCain, it could be a sign of good things to come for the Republicans.
- Minnesota - This really has to b considered over, but I am still seeing ads here. The MPR poll out today has Obama up 19. The only thing a McCain victory here would mean is that someone screwed with the election.
- Iowa - Obama won the caucus here. Should be firmly democratic.
I left off Montana and North Dakota. They would be nice to win but not crucial. As we are watching on election night, these states listed above will tell us who is going to win.
UPDATE: Apparently I didn't get all the information on that NBC Poll from PA. According to Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com, that same poll had Obama up only 2 points a month ago. So that's actually a net gain in one month. Better news than I thought. However, I am still not bringing out the champagne...