Before we begin, here'92s the set-up. I project Obama with 231 solid electoral votes: California (55), Washington (11), Oregon (7), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Michigan (17), Illinois (21), Maine (4), New Hampshire (4), Vermont (3), New York (31), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Connecticut (7), New Jersey (15), Delaware (3), Maryland (10), Hawaii (4) and Washington, D.C. (3). That leaves nine battleground states, each in varying degree of lean or toss-up: Pennsylvania (21), Ohio (20), Virginia (13), Florida (27), North Carolina (15), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), Colorado (9) and Iowa (7). Obama must secure 39 of those electoral votes to reach the 270 needed to win the presidency.
Each of these battleground states will be judged in the light of their 2004 turnout and results. You'92ll remember that George W. Bush defeated John Kerry, 286-251, in 2004, precisely because he won eight of these nine states.
Today'92s state: Colorado, with its 9 electoral votes.
Bush won 52-47, a difference of 99,523 votes. Turnout: Between 60-65 percent.
What to watch for on election night:
The Denver-Aurora-Boulder MSA: Ten counties make up the states largest MSA, Kerry won five (Boulder (66 percent of the vote), Gilpin (57 percent), Clear Creek (53 percent), Denver (70 percent), Adams (51 percent). The other five '96 Arapahoe, Jefferson, Douglas, Broomfield, Elbert and Park (yes, that Park County, Colo.) '96 went for Bush. Obama isn'92t likely to win Park, Elbert or Douglass, but he can easily win Arapahoe, Broomfield and Jefferson. If those three counties come in for Obama, look for him to pull off the win.
Things could get scary for Obama in Park County, Co.
God's Country: Obama needs to narrow the margin in El Paso County, home to Colorado Springs and the nexus of the Evangelical movement. Bush pulled 67 percent of the vote in the state'92s second most populous county.
Colorado had decent turnout in 2004, more than 60 percent. Obama will need to retain and improve on that enthusiasm to pull off another red state flip here in the Rocky Mountains. The Denver metro will be the key to Obama'92s success. Big margins in Denver and Boulder could hold off McCain in the rural, more conservative areas of the state. Again, if Obama can take Arapahoe and Jefferson counties, it'92s over. Like so many other battleground states this year, Hispanic voters can make a huge difference. They make up nearly 20 percent of the population.