Samantha Hayes, in Washington, D.C.
June 16, 2008
During the primary season we were reminded that "Ohio picks Presidents." The most recent being the 2004 re-election of George Bush which Ohio ensured with its 20 electoral votes. Florida, which has 27 electoral votes, another battleground state that has played a pivotal role in deciding the last two elections.
But 2008 may be different. Instead of relying on Florida and Ohio, Barack Obama's campaign thinks there may be a chance that achieves victory with the help of other states.
The magic number is 270. That's how many electoral votes a Presidential candidate needs to win. At a fundraiser here in Washington last week, Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe said the electoral map will look much different from 2004. Plouffe says Florida and Ohio aren't required for victory and is examining other combinations to make it to 270.
As they consider where to compete, states like Virginia (13) or Georgia (15) are on the list of states that could push Obama over the top if he loses Florida or Ohio. Obama's campaign thinks Virginia and Georgia could go in his favor in part because of his support from African Americans. Some may think it's a bit of a stretch, but Plouffe says the campaign also will try to get new voters registered in Mississippi and Louisiana if they think those states might be in play toward the fall.
But even with new voters and a heavy turnout by African Americans, those states have voted Republican in recent elections and conventional thinking suggests they will land in the red column again this year.
Of course, a lot can happen between now and November to change the Obama campaign's electoral strategy. And while there may be more than one way to hit 270, you never want to count Ohio and Florida out.