Electoral vote analysis pegs Colorado as ‘true toss-up’

The Atlantic’s weekly electoral map just out includes Colorado among three true toss-up states. Barack Obama holds a slim lead nationwide in the analysis, showing 216 Electoral College votes against John McCain’s 200, considering slam-dunks and leaners, out of 270 required to take the White House.

Five states — Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio — rank as marginal toss-ups, defined as “states where historical voting patterns seem to be asserting themselves but exogenous factors prevent the electorate from leaning to a particular candidate at this point.” They account for 95 electoral votes — enough to sway the election to either candidate.

But three states — Colorado, Nevada and Virginia — fall on the razor’s edge, “states where historical voting patterns are not asserting themselves AND exogenous factors prevent the electorate from leaning.” A total of 27 electoral votes are wholly up for grabs, according to the Atlantic analysis. Of those, Colorado sends nine electors.

Colorado, Nevada and Virginia are more competitive than they ought to be at this point.

Check the schedule and you’ll find both campaigns have been spending an unusual amount of time on the ground in these states, with enough appearances to count in the marginal states. Earlier this week both Obama and McCain running mate Sarah Palin campaigned in the Centennial State, including back-to-back rallies in tiny Golden, an emblematic town in a swing county in what could be one of a handful of states that decide the election.

Consider the Atlantic’s methodology, which gives an edge to genuine insight over sheer number crunching: “The distribution and categories are based on polling, historical trends, conversations with the campaigns, and the thoughts of smart analysts in those states.”

Here’s the complete map:

Likely Obama: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, ME, MD, MA, NJ, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA (190 electoral votes)

Lean Obama: IA, MN, NM, NH (26 electoral votes)

Marginal toss-ups: FL, MI, WI, PA, OH (95 electoral votes)

True toss-ups: NV, CO, VA (27 electoral votes)

Lean McCain: GA, IN, MO, MT, NC, SD (58 electoral votes)

Likely McCain: AK, AL, AZ, AR, ID, KS, KY, LA, MS, NE, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY, ND (142 electoral votes)

Obama: likely + leaners: 216 electoral votes

McCain: likely + leaners = 200 electoral votes

Tossups: 122 electoral votes.

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