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Caution: Close Election Ahead

Posted: Updated:

July 25, 2008

By Samantha Hayes

WASHINGTON -- The color coded map of U.S. politics is changing.  There were the red states, usually in the southeast and middle part of the country. And the blue states, in the Northeast and on the West Coast.  And our wild cards were well known: Ohio and Florida.  But in the presidential election of 2008 that category is growing as more states move into the undetermined zone of political battlegrounds.  They are, according to the CNN political map, toss-ups, and they've contributed a new color to the political palette: yellow.  The list includes Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Virginia, Michigan, Colorado, Nevada, Missouri, Iowa, and as of Thursday, Minnesota and New Mexico.

New Mexico used to fall under the "Leans McCain" column. So what happened? A recent survey conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center showed Hispanics heavily favoring Obama, 66 percent to 23 percent.  Hispanics are a major voting bloc in New Mexico. As for Minnesota, which was "Leaning Obama," CNN changed its hue to yellow after a Quinnipiac poll suggested his lead has shrunk to the point of  statistical insignificance -- only 2 points.   

This is good news for McCain who spent the week campaigning in battleground states while Obama stole the spotlight abroad with his Middle East and European tour. But polls are only a snapshot in time, and the election is still more than three months away.  That's plenty of time for voters to change their minds, and states to switch colors.

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