A source "tight in the Obama campaign" has sent out a memo, meant to reassure anxious supporters by deflecting attention from national polls, where McCain is rising, and to the state-by-state electoral tally, where the election will be settled. While there might be some disinformation in such a message, and things are obviously still fluid, it makes for interesting reading. Washington and Oregon remain firmly in the "Obama solid" category, while Montana has joined Idaho in the "McCain solid" group.
The states Obama folks feel are solid are now 18, adding up to 217 electoral votes (270 needed to win). They are: Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., New York, Vermont, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii.
Conceded to McCain are 22 states, with 174 electoral votes: West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Alaska, and Missouri. Of these states, the Obama analysis counts Georgia, North Dakota, Montana, and Missouri as each potentially winnable by Obama, since the margin is only 5-6 points in McCain's favor.
That leaves 11 states in neither camp. Here's where the battlegrounds are. The Obama campaign figures it can win Michigan (Democratic in last two elections and Obama leads by 4-6 points), Pennsylvania (Democratic last two times and a 5-7 point Obama lead), New Mexico (Bush in 2004, Gore in 2000, and a 4-6 point Obama lead). Add these 43 electoral votes and Obama's projected total is up to 260. The Obama memo then concedes these states to McCain: Florida (Republican last two times and a 3-point McCain lead), North Carolina (GOP last two elections and 4-point McCain lead), and Indiana (same as North Carolina). That nets McCain 53 electoral votes, bringing the tally to 260-227.
That leaves, in this analysis, five states, currently dead heats, as the deciders. They are: Colorado (9 electoral votes), Virginia (13), Ohio (20), New Hampshire (4), and Nevada (5). Obama has to get 10 votes from this list, and either Virginia or Ohio would do the trick. McCain would have to win almost all five to prevail.
How accurate is all this, and might it be a rosy scenario meant to calm down nervous Democrats? Real Clear Politics, in its tracking of the race,agrees with the 217 votes for Obama but gives McCain 216. Assigning the toss-up states, RCP has Obama winning by a razor margin of 273-265. And most of the RCP consensus poll margins in the swing states reduce the Obama claimed advantage by about half. It's fair to say, as of the current snapshot in the eye of Hurricane Sarah, that the race is exceedingly close, and that most analysts still expect Obama to win.