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Obama, McCain Look West as Political Battlegrounds Shift

Sen. Barack Obama hopes to win four Western states -- Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana -- in November, but Sen. John McCain is campaigning hard to hold on to the GOP strongholds. Pollsters offer insight.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    While the Obama campaign is looking West as part of its efforts to expand the electoral map, four states are getting special attention, Colorado, you just heard about, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana. Last week, Obama visited a heavily Republican area of the Rocky Mountain state, and he spent the Fourth of July in Butte, Montana.

    But John McCain is not ceding any ground. Today, he had his own campaign event in Denver.

    Well, we get three views now on these Western battleground states: Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report. Floyd Ciruli, he is a Denver-based pollster. He's president of Ciruli Associates. And Tom Cronin, he's professor of political science at Colorado College. He's author of the upcoming book "On the Presidency," and joins us now from Washington state.

    Thank you to all three of you.

    And, Tom Cronin, to you first. Let's start with the political landscape out there in the Mountain West. Three of the four governors in those states I mentioned are Democrats. I think it's five of the eight United States senators in those states are Democrats.

    So this part of the country is somewhat hospitable, isn't it?

  • TOM CRONIN, Colorado College:

    Yes, it is, Judy, but you need to know that, over the past 28 years, this has been really a strong area for Republicans. If you look at the 1992-1996 election, Ross Perot allowed Bill Clinton to win several of those states, but otherwise it's a Republican stronghold.

    And so it's going to take a very effective convention and a strong general election campaign for the Democrats to win Colorado and New Mexico. Nevada and Montana are more of a stretch, and it would take a huge landslide to win any of the other four states in the Rocky Mountain West.

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