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Mitt Romney, President Obama vying for swing states

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. (July 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are focusing on eight swing states with seven weeks left in a close, hard-fought race for the presidency, analysts said.

Obama and Romney have made Florida, Ohio and Virginia their key battlegrounds, but they're also making frequent campaign stops and spending millions of dollars on TV ads in five other swing states.

"There are about eight or 10 states where the election can be decided because they are so closely fought and so balanced in partisanship," said political analyst James Campbell of the State University at Buffalo.

"I would expect the candidates' key attention will be in those states that hold the balance," he said.

Romney has a narrower path to victory than Obama, analysts say, because Obama starts with solid voter support in large states such as New York, Illinois and California.

To win, Romney must take at least half the eight swing states, which also include New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. Obama can get by with two or three, if they are the biggest states.

The GOP also aims to take Michigan, Romney's childhood home. Democrats want to once again win North Carolina, host to their convention this month.

Obama won all eight of the swing states in 2008, and polls show he leads in all eight now.

However, "a lot can happen" between now and Election Day on Nov. 6, said Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac Poll.

Swing states are crucial because analysts expect a close popular vote this year, so the election will be decided by the states' weighted votes in the Electoral College, where the candidate with 270 votes wins.

According to most analysts, Obama now has 237 electoral votes and Romney 206 in states leaning or solidly for them -- with 95 votes to be decided.

"This is the way our presidential selection process works, where the magic number is 270 and the popular vote doesn't really matter," said presidential scholar Meena Bose at Hofstra University.

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