The three big battlegrounds of the presidential election. What do you think they are. Do you think they are Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvaina. If that is your guess, you are two thirds right. Obama is leading in every poll by either the high single digits or low double digits. McCain still thinks he can win there but with Philadelphia probably going to deliever Obama something a bit over a 450,000 vote margin and the horrible economy, McCain should pull out of there. The state that takes Pennsylvania's place is not Virginia, it looks like Obama will win there by five points. The state that really will be close is North Carolina. It is the third big battleground in the Eastern time zone. These three states are going to be very close in the general election and while you are watching the returns on election night, we are going to tell you what to look for when the results start trickling in.
In Ohio, probably the most competitive state this election, there are alot of things to watch for. Obama is planning to do really well in Cuyahoga County which contains Cleveland. Its population is 29% African American and the county is heavily unionized. Kerry got a margin there of 227,000 votes but it was not enough. Obama will have to do better than Kerry there and can probably get about an extra 40,000 votes. Another place Obama has to do well is Franklin County which contains Columbus. It is a well educated area with some African Americans. Obama would probably need to get a margin at a minimum of 20,000 votes or higher than Kerry's. Then there is Hamilton County which contains Cinnecinati. We believe that if Obama can win Hamilton County, he will win Ohio. Bush won Hamilton County by 23,000 votes and about 23% African American. They will definitely turnout strongly for him and they may be what it takes for Obama to win. Then there is the rural and conservative western part of the state where Obama needs to keep down McCain's margins. Since the area turned out heavily in 2004, there is probably not much room for increase. Then there is the Manhoning valley where Obama needs to do better than Kerry. Since the economy is failing there, the voters may want change but the Hillary and Bradley effect are pretty prevalent there. They may not be enough.
In Florida, there are alot of things to monitor. Watch Miami Dade County and see how Obama is doing there. He will need to win that county by ten points or more. Miami Dade County has alot of African Americans and Cuban Americans and it will be important to see how the Hispanics will vote and how large the African American turnout will be. Obama will need to do better than Kerry in the rest of the Gold Coast. Palin was a big help to Obama in those counties because Jewish voters who were originally scared of Obama's race and opinions of Israel and more scared of how right wing Palin is. Then in the Tampa Bay area, Obama will need to win Pinellas County by about 5 points and he will need to win Hillsborough County. That county will be close and we think if Obama wins Hillsborough County, he will win Florida. In Orange County where Orlando is, Obama will need to win there by five points. The I-4 corrider votes one point more Republican than the rest of the state, if Obama can carry it, he wins Florida. The central part of the Panhandle will be interesting to watch. Tallahassee and small counties with alot of African Americans are located there. Obama needs to do much better there than Kerry did.
In North Carolina, there are less places to really analyze since it is the smallest state out of these three. Obama has to do very well in the northeastern part of the state which has alot of rural African American communities. Also an important county to watch is Wake County which contains Raleigh. Obama needs to carry the county by about ten points if he wants to win North Carolina. There are alot of well educated people and African Americans in that county. Also an important place to boost the turnout would be in Durham. Obama would need to carry Forsyth County which contains Winston Salem. If he carries that county, he wins the state. Bush won it by nine points last time but the county has a large African American population. Another really important county where Obama needs to win by ten points or more is Mecklenberg County where Charlotte is located. There is a large African American population there and communities of white liberals. McCain should do well in the western part of the state except for Asheville which Obama must carry. A place to watch should be southeastern North Carolina to see if Obama is able to keep down McCain's margins there.
For Ohio, what really should be watched is how well is Obama doing in Franklin County, who is winning Hamilton County, how large are Obama's margins in the Manhoning Valley. For Florida, who is winning Hillsborough County, how large are Obama's margins on the Gold Coast, how is McCain doing in the northern part of the state. In North Carolina, is Obama running well in Wake, Forsyth, Buncombe and Mecklenberg counties, how is McCain doing in the southeastern part of the state. Watch these things to see who wins.
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