Political showdown in West

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“The top issues here are energy prices and the economy. If Barack Obama localizes the election, his chances are excellent in North Dakota,” said Democratic state Chairman David Strauss.

“The Republicans have a slight edge here, according to the polls, but Obama is getting about 60 percent of the independents,” Mr. Strauss said. Even so, based on its past performance, Mr. Cook puts the state in the “likely Republican” column.

cSouth Dakota: It has voted Democratic for president just four times since gaining statehood in 1889, the last time for Mr. Johnson in 1964. Mr. Bush easily carried the state in 2004 with 60 percent of the vote. A Rasmussen poll on July 9 showed Mr. Obama trailing his rival by 40 percent to 44 percent, with a 4 1/2 percent margin of error.

Notably, the Rasmussen survey showed Mr. McCain was viewed much more favorably than Mr. Obama by 62 percent to 54 percent. Mr. Cook still sees the state going “likely Republican.”

cMontana: Democrats hold the governorship, both Senate seats and the state Senate, but Bill Clinton in 1992 was the last Democrat to carry the state.

Nevertheless, Mr. Obama is making a big push in the state, celebrating the 4th of July there and sending in a phalanx of paid campaign staffers. The latest Rasmussen poll shows Mr. Obama leading 48 percent to 43 percent. Mr. Bush carried the state by 59 percent in 2004.

Though Montana, with just three electoral votes, hasn’t exactly been friendly to Democratic presidential candidates, Mr. Obama sees things differently there. “If you look at the trends in many of these states, there are more and more independents who aren’t tied to a political party, and I want to make sure that we are reaching out to them,” he said in a briefing earlier this month.

cNew Mexico: Little or no polling has been done in the state lately, but New Mexico has become a swing state in presidential politics. It went Republican in the 1980s then Democratic in the 1990s. Al Gore won it in 2000, but Mr. Bush narrowly reclaimed it by fewer than 6,000 votes in 2004.

Still, the state continues trending Democratic, with the Democratic Party holding the governorship and the state legislature and splitting the House and Senate delegations. The race is close, according to state political officials.

A SurveyUSA poll in early June said Mr. Obama led by 49 percent to 46 percent. A Rasmussen poll on June 19 showed Mr. Obama leading 47 percent to 39 percent, with a big lead among the state’s large Hispanic population, 63 percent to 34 percent.

The state’s Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by 49.4 percent to 33 percent, with third parties and independents making up the rest.

“McCain is polling very well in our state. We’ve got a lot of Democrats who tend to be more centrist, more moderate, and any Republican in New Mexico has to have Democratic support,” said Allen E. Weh, the state Republican chairman.

“He has a great relationship with Hispanics. I was with him Tuesday morning in Albuquerque at a diner that is a Hispanic hangout, and he was treated like a rock star,” Mr. Weh said.

Mr. Cook’s forecast: “Leans Democrat.”

cNevada: A statistical dead heat, with Mr. Obama leading his rival by a mere three points, 45 percent to 42 percent, according to the latest Rasmussen poll.

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About the Author
Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is the chief political correspondent for The Washington Times, the author of five books and a nationally syndicated columnist. His twice-weekly United Feature Syndicate column appears in newspapers across the country, including The Washington Times. He received the Warren Brookes Award For Excellence In Journalism in 1995 and in that same year was the host and co-writer of ...

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