Key swing states for the 2012 presidential election
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An analysis of the state-by-state race to 270 electoral votes, the total needed to win the presidency, and where Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney stand now. The numbers reflect electoral votes:
UP FOR GRABS (105):
Colorado (9) - Long a reliable GOP state, but Colorado's conservative profile is changing. An influx of young professionals and Hispanic voters were keys to Obama's victory in 2008. The economy has hurt him standing. Female voters in vote-rich Denver suburbs are likely to be key.
Florida (29) - Florida is the prime target for both campaigns. Obama won in 2008, but the housing crisis, high unemployment and gas prices are dogging him. Romney won the primary in January and has picked up endorsement of freshman Sen. Marco Rubio. Obama's organization has a big advantage six months out.
Iowa (6) - An important George W. Bush-state pick-up for Obama. Iowa has been a national popular vote bellwether for 20 years. Obama's attention in the state where his caucus victory launched him in 2008 is countered by Romney's two caucus campaigns. Conservatives are leery of Romney's Mormon faith and social issue profile, but he's got pro-business GOP Gov. Terry Branstad on his side.
New Hampshire (4) - Romney's backyard and vacation home. He won the 2012 primary big, but Obama peeled off this Bush state in 2008 and has worked hard to keep it. Vice President Joe Biden visited Friday. But the GOP is back in power in Legislature, and new Sen. Kelly Ayotte is seen as asset for Romney.
New Mexico (5) - New Mexico emerged as a swing state in the past decade. Democrat Al Gore, then Bush, then Obama carried it. An influx of Hispanic and younger voters has Obama team confident. Gov. Susana Martinez, a rising GOP star elected in 2010, gives the Romney team hope.
Nevada (6) - Part of a triad of Southwestern states Obama flipped in 2008. Nevada is also the prime example of the economy's struggles. Unemployment was 12.3 percent in February, a point Romney will press. There's a strong labor and Hispanic vote, a plus for Obama. A higher Mormon population helps Romney.
North Carolina (15) - Obama was the first Democrat to win North Carolina in 32 years and he hopes again to turn out a high percentage of newcomers and minorities. Romney is contesting the state, an outlier for Obama in 2008, aides say. Obama hopes that holding the party's national convention in Charlotte in September proves a boost.
Ohio (18) - The ultimate Midwestern swing state has been a general election bellwether since 1980. Romney won the 2012 primary and has support from establishment figures such as Sen. Rob Portman. Obama has the organizing advantage, although the economy remains a sticking point, especially in the industrial northwest.
Virginia (13) - Long a GOP bastion, Obama carried Virginia in 2008 by turning out young and minority voters. An influx of under-35 crowd, especially from the Washington, D.C., area, has continued. But Republicans roared back in 2010, ending consecutive Democratic administrations in governorship by electing up-and-comer Bob McDonnell.
SOLIDLY DEMOCRATIC (186):
LEANING DEMOCRAT (56):
Michigan (16) - Despite lingering economic pain in auto capital, Michigan has large minority and union voting blocs that favor Obama. Romney, a native son whose dad was governor, won the GOP primary but his opposition to 2008 auto bailout will hurt him.
Minnesota (10) - Low unemployment and a long streak of Democrats carrying Minnesota give Obama confidence. But Minnesota was competitive in 2000 and 2004, and includes a length of the Mississippi River Valley, among the Midwest's most pivotal swing regions.
Pennsylvania (20) - Typically an early battleground, Pennsylvania has tipped Democrat in the final month in recent presidential races. Romney continued campaigning ahead of the April 24 primary before effectively sealing the nomination Tuesday. But a nearly 1 million Democratic edge in voter registration makes the state a reach for the GOP.
Wisconsin (10) - Ronald Reagan was last Republican to carry Wisconsin; Democrats eked by in 2000 and 2004. The June recall of GOP Gov. Scott Walker over anti-union legislation will test labor's strength. If Walker is retained, Romney could be competitive.
LEANING REPUBLICAN (32):
Arizona (11) - 2008 GOP nominee John McCain's single-digit victory in his home state, and Hispanic and young voter boom, give Obama hope that Arizona is trending as others in Southwest. But Romney won big in February's primary, helped by the support of GOP Gov. Jan Brewer, in state where Republicans and the tea party are in charge.
Indiana (11) - Obama broke 44-year GOP trend by winning Indiana, albeit by barely a single percentage point. Unemployment is still high and the tea party is a new factor, both working against Obama.
Missouri (10) - Democrats have contested Missouri in the past three elections, only to lose each time. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is in tough re-election bid, and Obama's approval has dipped below 40 percent.
SOLIDLY REPUBLICAN (159):
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.