Solid McCain - 22
Lean McCain - 3
Tossup - 19
The once solid West isn't as solid, and much of that is the clash between Southern Conservatism and Western Conservatism. The West did used to be more democrat in the past as well. Nevada, Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico all have voted statewide for democrats over years. Even Idaho was once democrat. The shift to the Republicans occured more in the 80's and 90's with the decline of minining and the rise of cultural leftism. The Clintons were despised in the west over land micromanagement and gun grabs.
Idaho (4 votes) - 68-30% Bush in 2004. 67-28% Bush in 2000. This is one of the most Republican states in the country. Democrats have been working the west hard in recent years, but this would be one of the three last states to flip presidentially along with Wyoming and Utah. The August poll by Greg Smith has McCain up 23%. I expect that to be higher with Palin on the ticket.
Wyoming (3 votes) - Obama may win Jackson...but that's about it. Bush won 69-29% and 69-28%. Wyoming is more libertarian than Idaho, but just as Republican. Mason-Dixon polling in August had McCain up 37.
Utah (5 votes) - Statewide, the most Republican state in the country, thanks to the Mormons. That is despite the democrat leaning Salt Lake City. Bush won 72-26% and 67-26%. In August, Mason-Dixon has McCain up by 39.
Arizona (10 votes) - Arizona isn't solidly Republican anymore as Bill Clinton won it in 1996, but it is solid for McCain and still leans Republican. Bush won 55-44% in 2000 and 51-45% in 2004. More importantly, McCain won there with percentages of 77%, 69%, 56%, and 60%. Two August polls have McCain up 6 (Mason-Dixon) and 10 (Arizona State). I think the 10% is more on target based on the homer factor in the end.
Montana (3 votes) - Montana is very independent in its voting. It has an old democrat heritage from its mining days, and also a strong anti-Clinton libertarian streak causing it to go heavily to the Republicans in the mid 1990s. Bush won 59-39% in 2004 and 58-33% in 2000. Ross Perot won 26% here in 1992. The governor and both senators are democrat now, and the congressman is Republican. The democrats they like are ranchers and farmers, not ivy-league know it alls who know nothing. That hurts Obama. The Patriot Act hurts Bush and GOP here as it clashes the libertarian streak, something Jon Tester took full advantage of in 2006, winning by 1% against an incumbent. There have been few polls here. Rasmussen's July poll shows a tie. An earlier Rasmussen showed an Obama lead. The other polls from May and February have McCain by 8. (Mason-Dixon and Survey USA). I heard that Rasmussen samples more democrats because of 2006. I didn't put this in tossup because of the last two presidential elections, but I wouldn't call it solidly for McCain right now. I'm interested in the next Montana poll.
Nevada (5 votes) - Home of Harry Reid. Nevada is called a "republican state", but it only was during the Reagan years. Before then it was divided, and in the 1990's it voted for Bill Clinton twice and narrowly Bush twice.In 2004, Bush won 50-48% and 50-46% in 2000. Outside of 1976, Nevada votes for the winner. There is a heavy union presence in Nevada, especially Vegas and Clark County which leans democrat, but not overwhelmingly so. There are three main areas:
Clark County (Vegas) - Kerry won 52-47% in 2004. It was 51-45% in 2000. Kerry gained 90,000 votes here from 2000. Bush gained 60,000 votes. There was a 26,000 vote spread for the democrats here in 2000. There are two Clark County based congressional districts. The Vegas centered won went 57% Democrat. The suburban one was drawn 50-50. The rural and Reno district does have some of Clark County as well, but likely the most Republican areas (that district is 57% GOP). It is the main county here with over 50% of the vote, always giving the democrats a shot to win here.
Washoe County (Reno) - Bush won Washoe County by 7000 votes in 2004 and 11,000 votes in 2008. It was 51-47% in 2004, and 52-43% in 2000. It's going to be well organized for the dems since it Harry Reid always runs well there because he helped them on local projects. He has an easy go in 2004 (with the NRA giving him a free pass), but won by the skin of his teeth in 1998, 1992, and 1986. Reno came through for him.
Rural areas - in 2004, Bush did not get less than 55% in any rural county, and broke 70% in 7 of them. That made the difference in the election, and countered Clark County and the reduced margins in Washoe.
Overall, it will be a close race here again, as it was in 04 and 00. Polls have been all over the place. August polls range from Obama by 5 (CNN) and 1 (Reno Gazette) to McCain by 3 (Rasmussen) and 7 (Mason-Dixon). Translation. It's going to probably be close here. I don't expect Obama to win by 5, nor McCain by 7 here.
New Mexico (5 votes) - Bush won it by 6000 votes in 04 and lost it by 370 votes in 2000. This was the closest state in 2000, not Florida. It is a unique state, but also one that normally votes for the winner with exceptions in 1976 and 2000. It is divided. Northern New Mexico is mostly Democrat with Santa Fe. Albuquerque is competitive and more moderate with a slight democrat leaning. Southeastern New Mexico is almost an extension of West Texas. Southwestern New Mexico is competitive. The polls here are all over the place. CNN has Obama up by 13. I doubt that's the case. Rasmussed has him up by 4. That is more believable. Mason-Dixon has McCain up by 4. These are all August polls however pre-convention.
Colorado (9 votes) - Obama's going all out to win here. I think this is our toughest defense. In the 60's it was more conservative. In the 70's more liberal (Gary Hart, Pat Schroeder). In the 1990's it moved more towards the right after 1992. Today it's going back more to the left. Bush won in 2000 51-42%. In 2004, he won 52-47%. In 2006, the Dems made a big mark with a takeover on the state level. Why? Big money leftists and big organization. Michigan has the radical Jon Stryker. His sister is out in Colorado and funding a lot of the radicals here.
Colorado is a regional state. Denver and Boulder is the liberal base, along with the fast growing ski slopes and their rich leftist transplants. Pueblo area is also democrat and largely minority. The suburbs of Denver are more divided. In 2004 Adams County went democrat, while Arapahoe and Jefferson went Republican. All were close. The Republican base is El Paso County (Colorado Springs), most of the western slopes around Grand Junction, and the Eastern rural areas on the Kansas border. It is a divided state overall, and will be competitive for years to come. The latest poll (September) here by Rasmusses has Obama up 3. August polls ranged from McCain by 3 to Obama by 5. Overall, I think this will be our toughest defense, since Obama has such a strong base and the dems have top organization and money here. McCain can win if the GOP base overperforms in the military and East/West slopes. Turnout is key.