The shifting battleground

One of the odd things about this year's primary campaign is that the likely nominees have both tended to win states which they have no chance of winning in the general election while losing their parties hardcore states. Larry Sabato divides the states into those that are strong for one party (won by more than 10% in 2004), lean towards it (5%-10%) or battleground (won by less than 5%). McCain won the primaries in all but one (MA) of the strong Democratic states, while Obama won only half of the six. Of the 18 strong Republican states that have voted so far, Obama has won 13. Of the 17 that have voted on the GOP side, McCain has won just 7.

But who really cares about the states that are strongly for one party or the other? The election is decided in the swing states.

Among those that lean Republican, there are two states which McCain won and Obama lost (AZ, and FL) and only one that Obama won and McCain lost (CO).

In the core battleground, McCain won and Obama lost in three states (OH, PA and NH) while Obama won and McCain lost in two (IA and MN).

In the states that lean Democratic McCain won and Obama lost in two (NJ and CA) while Obama won and McCain lost one (ME).

While nobody thinks that winning a primary that your opponent lost means you can flip a state, but the analysis is nonetheless interesting. Not only is McCain up by 7-4 in number of states, his advantage tends to be in the larger states. By Electoral College votes, the analysis looks like this. Among GOP leaners, McCain has the advantage in states with 37 votes and Obama in a state with 9 votes.

In the battleground states the McCain advantage is 45-7. Among the Democratic leaners it is a whopping 70-4.

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