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Political Insiders Poll

Q: Rank Barack Obama's top three pickup opportunities in states that Bush won in 2004.

Methodology: In tallying the rankings, a first-place vote was worth 5 points, a second-place vote 4 points, and a third-place vote 3. The rankings are determined by the percentage of points that each state received compared with the maximum possible. For example, Iowa received 68 percent of the maximum 365 points, the number of points it would have received if all 73 Democratic participants had ranked it as Obama's top pickup prospect.

Democrats (73 votes)

Iowa        68 percent
New Mexico  54 percent
Colorado    32 percent
Virginia    28 percent
Ohio        23 percent
Nevada      15 percent


Also receiving votes: Missouri, 7 percent; Indiana, 4 percent; Alaska and Florida, 3 percent each; Georgia and North Carolina, 2 percent each.



"This is close to a done deal."

"Obama's strength from winning the caucus, McCain's weakness from virtually skipping the caucus, and the closeness of the 2004 result might all contribute to an easy Obama win."

"If Obama runs just slightly ahead of where [John] Kerry ran in 2004 and even with [Al] Gore in 2000 or slightly better, [Iowa] should be the first to fall back into the Democratic column--helped by the border with Illinois, extraordinary base from caucuses. McCain has historic problems with Iowa evangelicals, and [his] ethanol [subsidy] opposition still lingers."

"The big caucus win and proximity to Illinois continue to pay dividends."


New Mexico

"The Hispanic vote will be impacted by [Gov. Bill] Richardson. Native American vote will be biggest ever. State is more vulnerable to economic downturn than most."

"Close states from 2004 will flip for Obama quicker than new battleground states."

"This is where Richardson's endorsement should pay off."

"New Mexico will defy those that had predicted an Hispanic-black divide."

"A state that prides itself on demographically looking like the United States of 2030: To some extent, New Mexico is looking forward, and Obama represents that."

"Obama is running better than expected among Latinos. And [Senate nominee Tom] Udall and Richardson will help put Obama over [the top]."


"With Colorado basking in the glow of a [Democratic National] Convention that promises to put the state front and center of the political universe for a week, Obama can expect Coloradans to return the favor in November."

"The West is changing, and McCain thus far is not capitalizing on his Arizona background."

"Good state for Obama, plus convention, plus crazies hate McCain equals Obama win."


"Part of the new alignment: [Senate nominee Mark] Warner will provide a big boost."

"The [Obama] campaign has done the math. And there is a mathematical scenario that seems possible that depends on destroying McCain in Northern Virginia and doing well enough everywhere else."


"Obama has maintained a solid lead in the state, which saw sizable Democratic victories in 2006."

"Ohio's economy has to portend change, or Obama is in serious trouble."


"Population trend toward urban centers and the voter-registration numbers indicate this may be the year it goes blue."

"Booming new Democratic registration edge, and a state Republican Party in complete disarray."


"Though not all presidential elections here have been close, Missouri will follow [Sen.] Claire McCaskill's lead and back Obama. This state has been hit hard by the loss of automotive jobs, and it will look for new and different leadership."


"Libertarian candidate on the ballot should take votes away from McCain."

Democratic Political Insiders Karen Ackerman, Jill Alper, David Axelrod, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Jim Craig, Jerry Crawford, Stephanie Cutter, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Michael Donilon, Tom Donilon, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Eric Eve, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Gordon Fischer, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Don Fowler, Gina Glantz, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Michael Gronstal, Marcia Hale, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Mike Henry, Leo Hindery, Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Shar Knutson, Kam Kuwata, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Sylvia Larsen, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bill Lynch, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Terry McAuliffe, Caroline McCarley, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Scott Parven, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, John Podesta, Tony Podesta, Bruce Reed, Mame Reiley, Steve Ricchetti, Susan Rice, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, John Ryan, Wendy Sherman, Terry Shumaker, Phil Singer, Bob Slagle, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Darry Sragow, Karl Struble, Katrina Swett, Sarah Swisher, Eric Tabor, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Mike Veon, Rick Wiener, Bridgette Williams, JoDee Winterhof, and Jim Zogby.

Q: Rank Barack Obama's top three pickup opportunities in states that Bush won in 2004.

Republicans (79 votes)

Iowa        66 percent
New Mexico  51 percent
Colorado    37 percent
Virginia    30 percent
Nevada      22 percent
Ohio        16 percent


Also receiving votes: Missouri, 6 percent; North Carolina, 5 percent; Indiana, 3 percent; Florida, 2 percent; Alaska, 1 percent.


"Obama's strong organization in Iowa and McCain's neglect of it in two presidential primary campaigns make it the top potential pickup."

"Having gotten Obama started, Iowans may well feel a stake in the early choice they made."

"McCain's ethanol position and historical neglect, coupled with Obama's historic win make this corn ready to pop."

"Never McCain country, and historically dovish."

"It's really a Democratic state, Obama won the caucuses, and McCain doesn't understand it."

New Mexico

"One case where [Democratic] Senate candidate may carry Obama."

"How hard will [Gov. Bill] Richardson work for his next job?"

"Obama's rebound with Hispanic voters, coupled with a massive Democrat registration drive, puts him in great position to flip this state."

"Fairly reliable Democratic state."


"[Liberal Fort Collins philanthropist Pat] Stryker's money has been changing politics there."

"Senate race coattails could push Obama over the top in tight contest."

"McCain was weak in the West during the GOP primaries."

"The changing demographics in Arapahoe and Jefferson counties are working in Obama's favor."

"Miserable GOP leadership and an uninspiring GOP Senate campaign in a state that is trending more liberal."


"Another one-sided Senate race, plus black support for Obama, should tip the balance."

"Obama seems to view this state as a key and could pour in heavy resources. Given the alienation toward Republicans in Northern Virginia and the popularity of [Democratic Gov.] Tim Kaine, this seems do-able for Obama."

"Collapse by the Republican Party in the state, plus [Democratic Senate nominee Mark] Warner's massive advantage."

"Popular Democrat governor, feuding GOP party activists, hostile takeover of the state GOP by right-wing fanatics, and reminders of what voters find distasteful about Republicans with the presence of [former Gov. Jim] Gilmore on the GOP ticket."

"If he's going to win a Southern state with a combination of liberal whites and huge turnout of black voters, this is as good as any."


"In play because of evolving demographics, not because Obama has a unique appeal."

"Yucca Mountain and Latinos kill McCain here."


"Jewish voters' mistrust of Obama over Israel and the war on terror takes Florida off the table, so this is the showdown state."

"The trends in this state amount to a gale-force wind blowing against Republicans."

"Republican brand in Ohio is at ebb. Change message will resonate."


"Another state with close to a 20 percent nonwhite voting population: Look for Obama to continue to push race to maximize turnout."

North Carolina

"Black community will rally for Obama."


"Scandals spread. Ask Ohio Republicans."

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Wayne Berman, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Danny Carroll, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Charlie Crist, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Rick Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Steve Duprey, Debi Durham, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Sam Geduldig, Benjamin Ginsberg, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bruce Keough, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris Lacivita, Jim Lake, Chuck Larson, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Bill McInturff, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Ed Rogers, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Don Sipple, Robin Smith, Javier Soto, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Eric Tanenblatt, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Tom Wilson, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, and Fred Wszolek.

This article appears in the August 23, 2008 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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