Travel with ABC News to see how this election impacts all corners of the country

Obama and McCain
An increasingly blue state on the national electoral map, Washington hasn't voted for a Republican for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

If this election is about change, as Barack Obama and John McCain say, Democrats here in Washington state are asking voters not to go too far.

An increasingly blue state on the national electoral map, Washington hasn't voted for a Republican for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Barack Obama pic, John McCain pic
New Mexico teams effort a get out the vote push ahead of the November 4 general election.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

In this battleground state, Jennifer Chadwell-Feld is already at war.

Chadwell-Feld, 58, dials voters from a small warehouse, gauging support for Republican presidential nominee John McCain and reminding them a vote Nov. 4 could be crucial in one of the nation's tightest swing states.

"Since you support McCain, would you be willing to volunteer for the campaign?" the volunteer says and records the answers, which will be entered into a computer. "Can we get you a yard sign?"

Ron Booth voted Republican in the presidential election four years ago.

In the staunchly Republican state of Texas, home to President Bush, that's not much of a surprise. Booth says, however, that in November, he'll cast his vote for the Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama.

"You can't do the things of the past to solve the problems of the future," says Booth, 45, a finance manager, as he lunched recently at an outdoor cafe in downtown Houston. "We need change. That's Obama, clearly."

Sen. Tim Johnson battles for re-election in GOP dominated state.

Sen. Tim Johnson has come through emergency brain surgery, a coma and a grueling recovery.

Now, Johnson, a 61-year-old Democrat who battled back from a December 2006 brain hemorrhage, is running for re-election in a GOP-dominated state where President Bush won 60% of the vote in 2000 and 2004.

It may turn out to be the easiest thing he's done in two years.

Johnson, running against Republican state lawmaker Joel Dykstra, was comfortably ahead 60% to 35% in a July Rasmussen Reports poll, the most recent statewide poll on this year's race.

Anxieties About the Economy, Obama Have Created an Unpredictable Dynamic in Keystone State

At Rep. Mike Doyle's annual picnic here in this Pittsburgh suburb, Janet Keane recalled coming home during the Depression, when "honest to God, there was nothing to eat."

Keane, 85, a longtime friend of the Democratic congressman, said last week that she's looking for someone who will spare her grandchildren that experience as she tries to decide between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain in the presidential election Nov. 4.

"I like McCain," she said. "But I don't like that he's a Bush man."

A North Carolina parking lot owner says supporters of the Democratic presidential candidate are no longer welcome to park their cars.

No parking
North Carolina parking lot owner says Obama supporters and those driving cars with Obama stickers are not welcome to park.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

WFMY reports Tim Henderson, who owns a parking lot in Gibsonville, N.C., "put up "no parking" signs targeting Barack Obama supporters."

The lot owner tells WFMY that his message is clear: He's posted two signs discouraging Obama supporters or those in cars with Obama stickers displayed on them from parking there.

"I don't know how many ways you can interpret it. If you're an Obama supporter, you've got an Obama sticker on your car, you're not welcome to park here," Henderson told the Greensboro CBS affiliate station.

There's a campaign going on in this village of 6,444 in the northeast region of this battleground state.

Lawn signs line the sidewalks and organizers talk on cellphones in a temporary office.

The signs are not part of a political campaign. They carry slogans such as "World class work force" and "Save U.S. Jobs" and are part of an effort to save a paper mill, and maybe a town.

Conservative Evangelical Vote Still the Republican Party's to Lose

candidates faithful
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Dennis Barbee cares about low taxes. He also wants a strong economy and solid national security.

Above all else, the registered nurse from Spring Hill, Tenn., is basing his vote this November on moral issues.

"Making sure human beings have a right to live is important to me," Barbee says. He isn't yet sure who he'll vote for, but the candidate he backs will be "a godly person that definitely has Jesus Christ as their savior," he says.

McCain Campaign Pulls Resources from the Wolverine State

John McCain's path to the 270 electoral votes he must secure in order to win the White House may have just gotten a little bit harder.

ABC News can confirm a Politico report that the McCain campaign is pulling the plug on trying to flip the state of Michigan from Blue to Red and locking up those key 17 electoral votes. According to Republicans familiar with the McCain campaign's plans in the Wolverine State, McCain has canceled a planned event in the state and is expected to halt his television advertising there.

Although McCain's move does not deliver a net gain of electoral votes into Obama's column, the significance of taking the populous state off the battlefield cannot be overstated.

A senior McCain adviser, however, played down the significance of the move by stating that Michigan was more about spreading the field of play on Obama rather than a needed state for their campaign to get the needed 270 electoral votes.

As the general election began to take shape in early summer, McCain campaign aides saw Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire as their best opportunities to take some states that John Kerry won in 2004 and place them in the GOP column. Losing one of those key targets of opportunity while still having to defend a slew of Red states such as Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, and Indiana is a tough blow to the McCain campaign as it seeks to maintain viable paths to 270 electoral votes.

Read more HERE.

Heading into tonight's vice presidential showdown in St. Louis, an ABC News/Washington Post poll released today reveals the Sarah Palin boom has all but busted.

palin biden
Expectations game begins in earnest as Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin head to Thursday's vice presidential debate.
(ABC News)

Watch the Vice Presidential Debate -- ABC News Live Coverage Begins at 9 p.m. ET

In his analysis, ABC News' Polling Director Gary Langer writes, "Skepticism about Sarah Palin has soared since she entered the national political stage, with six in 10 Americans now doubting her qualifications for office and fewer than half convinced of her grasp of complex issues."

Rick Klein, author of 'The Note', calls tonight's match-up "a face-off of a peculiar sort". (Rick will be live-blogging tonight throughout the debate.)

With 12 days until the election, it's Joe the Plumber vs. Barack the President (an important distinction from Barack the Senator or Barack the Candidate).
(Getty Images/AP Photo )

Long before the debate over a federal bailout of the nation's financial institutions took center stage, sagging property values and soaring mortgage payments triggered in part by adjustable interest rates and increasing taxes threatened to force thousands of Floridians into foreclosure.

According to RealtyTrac, Florida's 44,000 foreclosure filings in August trailed only California in the number of properties affected. California had 101,724 filings. Florida's foreclosure woes surpassed the rest of the Top 5 states: Arizona, 14,333; Michigan,13,605; and Nevada, 11,706.

Conservative Stronghold Could Fall from GOP Ranks for the First Time Since 1976

New voters in South Carolina could make the conservative stronghold fall from GOP ranks and vote for Sen. Barack Obama, going Democratic for the first time since 1976.
(ABC News)

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Don Fowler isn't ready to bet money on Barack Obama winning the Palmetto State in the Nov. 4 presidential election.

But Fowler, chairman of Columbia-based Fowler Communications, said a confluence of factors makes it possible that this stronghold of Deep South conservatism could fall from the ranks of the GOP for the first time since Jimmy Carter in 1976 and for only the second since John F. Kennedy in 1960.

His arguments include:

Nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans voted in Feb. at N.D. caucuses.

obama mccain
Between the infomercial and the polls, the race belongs to Barack Obama alone five days out, and... Expand
(AP Photos)

Sen. John McCain was on TV at the student center at Minot State University, but Megan Walser barely glanced up from the information desk as she gave directions to a freshman football player.

At 19, Walser is undecided who will get her first vote for president. Rising costs of gas, food, rent and tuition are on her mind. As the daughter of a rancher in Rhame, she's thinking about farm issues, too.

But what may have caught her eye most this presidential season was who made time to campaign in North Dakota.

From the harsh tone of a congressional race in Alabama, it might be hard to believe the candidates are deacons at the same Baptist church.

Democrat Bobby Bright and Republican Jay Love are campaigning hard for an open seat in Congress to represent the rural 2nd District in Alabama ??? a seat Democrats have not won since 1962.

Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama head to Mississippi tonight for the first presidential debate of the general election.

For a walk down memory lane (presidential debate edition), check out this video produced by producer Lindsey Ellerson on memorable debate moments in the election cycles of yore.

And while there were questions on top of questions as to whether or not the debate would go on as scheduled, pundits volleying back and forth over whether it should or shouldn't, ABC News' Polling Director Gary Langer blogs on whether the candidates' debate performances even matter.

Do they?

McCain Lifts Campaign Suspension, Plans to Attend First Debate

The debate is on!

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos confirmed that Sen. John McCain will be attending the first presidential debate tonight in Mississippi.

"Optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement," the McCain campaign said in a statement they are "resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon."

McCain announced on Wednesday that he was suspending all campaign activity to head to Washington and work towards a resolution on the bailout plan.

Tune in to the first presidential debate tonight on ABC News or at 9 p.m. ET!

In Arkansas, National Issues Effect Local Concerns at the Ballot Box

Voters here, like in most places, will be thinking about the economy, the Iraq war and health care when they go to the polls Nov. 4. But in Mountain Home, they'll also be thinking about a proposed hike in the 8% sales tax to pay for an indoor swimming pool in Cooper Park.

The pool's a big topic in this small Ozarks city of 11,000. It's an example of how national issues can influence local concerns and of how people across the USA will have more on their minds than presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain when they go to vote.

Little Doubt Over Who Will Win Illinois, But Can Obama Meet Expectations?

Catherine Haskins is 36 and has never bothered to vote in a presidential election. She says that will change Nov. 4 when she votes for Barack Obama.

Until now, Haskins, a single mom and small business owner in Washington Park, one of this city's poorest neighborhoods, never believed that any presidential candidate could make a difference in her life or the lives of her three sons.

In Obama, she says, she sees a politician who was raised by his own single mom and by his grandparents, a former community organizer who worked in Chicago neighborhoods much like her own. "He gets it. He's lived it," she says.

Graphic pic image of Sen. Barack Obama and John McCain back-to-back as the contenders square off in the 2008 presidential race.
With economic woes on the minds of voters, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have tried to paint each other as elitists who cannot relate to ordinary Americans.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Where Anthony Hurt once saw rubble and litter, he now sees a bright mural. From his second-story window, the view of drugs and decay has given way to sunflowers and trees.

More than 150 formerly vacant lots in this city, which is often derided for its high rate of violent crime, have been transformed into community parks ??? in part with the help of federal grants.

An ABCNews/Washington Post poll reveals that the economy looms large over Virginia voters as they look to cast battleground ballots on Election Day.

candidates VA
Longtime red, Old Dominion just might turn blue this year.
(ABC News)

"Economic jitters and a favorable Democratic climate are contributing to a competitive presidential contest in Virginia, a traditionally Republican state in national elections but one where Democrats have won the last three races for governor or U.S. Senate," writes Gary Langer, director of the ABC News Polling Unit.

Fifty-two percent call it the single most important issue in their vote, far and away No. 1. And eight in 10 are worried about the economy's direction in the next few years, with 45 percent very worried.

In Virginia, Sen. Barack Obama holds a 10-point over Sen. John McCain among registered voters in trust to handle the economy, the lead grows to 23 points when in understanding the economic woes of Americans.

Click here for a PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

Main Street buzz has turned from racial politics to presidential politics in the year since the "Jena Six" legal battles and civil rights protests.

Residents gathered outside the La Salle Parish courthouse in Jena, La., on Sept. 11 to reflect on community values and how the presidential election might play here, a parish of about 14,000 residents, heavily invested in oil, timber and conservative values.

A year ago Saturday about 20,000 civil rights demonstrators protested a perception of legal injustice and racial prejudice at the same courthouse. But on Sept. 11, as townspeople, the school band, elected officials and the National Guard came together, the focus was patriotism and politics, said Sammy Franklin, long-time editor and publisher of the Jena Times.

"These people here are very patriotic," Franklin said, noting that many are veterans.

"You have a war veteran, a former POW, here, and then you have a candidate here that will not salute the flag, not wear a flag pin," said Franklin, referring to presidential candidates Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama. "I've heard some diehard Democrats, that would never (not) vote for a Democrat before say, 'No, I can't do that this time.' ??? Because of just that one thing."

Franklin predicted La Salle Parish would go Republican on Nov. 4, and recent history backs him up. La Salle gave President Bush more than 80% of its vote in 2004 ??? and 75% in 2000.

Identity influences politics

Cleveland Riser Jr., a retired educator who invested 29 years in the local school system, said he sees identity as a pressure point this year. The parish is 85.6% white and 12% black.

"Can they overcome the fact that when they see him they are going to see a darker face?" asked Riser, a black man with Native American and white heritage.

Riser, who supports Obama, said he believes race will factor into voters' decisions but that it was not the most important issue to him.

Age made more of a difference. Riser, a veteran, admires McCain's military service but thinks a 72-year-old candidate lacks the energy for the job. Instead, he was inspired by the vivacity and enthusiasm of Obama, 47.

Living near the Marine Corps' largest base and watching new houses and schools going up to hold military families, Roger Denoncourt doesn't feel much of the economic pressure that is defining the 2008 presidential election.

The retired Marine says his vote will go to candidates he sees as supportive of the military.

dc vote right
D.C. delegates say they're inching closer to a vote in Congress. Currently Washington, D.C. has a non-voting congressional delegate.

The delegates from the District of Columbia were revved.

"We demand a vote!" they chanted at last month's Democratic convention as Eleanor Holmes Norton, the district's non-voting delegate to Congress, looked on approvingly. It was a high point for the 70-member D.C. delegation, which spent four days lobbying for a vote in Congress with T-shirts, flashing buttons and bumper stickers sporting the slogan "Taxation Without Representation."

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. -- It wasn't that long ago that West Virginia was a rather reliable blue dot on your electoral map.

Michael Dukakis won here. So did Jimmy Carter -- twice. Bill Clinton was also 2-for-2.

But something has changed: Al Gore lost West Virginia by 6 points. John Kerry made it closer, but still lost by 2.5 points. It's on Barack Obama's wish list -- but the long list, not the short list.

This is not the flip-side of neighboring Virginia, where demographic changes are making a red state purple.

From the roof of the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Transportation Center on Main Street, one can see the Wheeling Artisan Center to the east, the Wheeling Stamping Building to the south and Wheeling Heritage Port to the west ??? all flourishing, thanks to the financial help of Sen. Robert Byrd.

To say the 90-year-old senator from West Virginia has brought home the bacon during his half-century in Washington would be akin to saying Congress likes to spend taxpayers' money.

Two of Byrd's Senate colleagues, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, are threatening his ability to spend that money in places such as Wheeling, Charleston, Huntington and Morgantown. McCain wants to eliminate all congressional "earmarks" ??? money set aside by lawmakers for specific programs or projects back home. Obama favors less spending and more transparency.

Whoever becomes the nation's 44th president could send places such as Wheeling reeling.

"Without the government's assistance, I don't think we would have been able to develop what we have today," says Hydie Friend, executive director of the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation, which seeks to celebrate the city's place in history as the original gateway to the West.

Cutting corners

The arguments against earmarks are familiar: The government can't afford them. They're chosen on the basis of politics, not merit. Lawmakers with clout command the most cash. In some cases, they are the source of political corruption ??? as was the case of former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a Republican who was convicted in 2005 of taking bribes in exchange for Defense earmarks.

"What we've created here is an easy, corner-cutting way of getting money," says Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-partisan group opposed to earmarks.

That's not how West Virginia officials see it. Working in a largely blue collar state, where municipal governments and universities struggle to make ends meet, they see earmarks as a reward for entrepreneurial spirit.

PITTSBURGH -- Rolling through Ohio, and now in Pennsylvania, I've got swing states on my mind -- and not only because of the acrobats who greeted us in Pittsburgh, in a literal circus-like atmosphere at the train station.

For better or worse, it's states like these -- and a small handful of others -- that will determine this election.

The old thinking has been that if you win two out of the three biggest battlegrounds -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida -- you become president. It worked for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and it very well could work again in 2008.

Small towns like this bucolic river community may play an outsized role in determining whether John McCain or Barack Obama becomes president. They are the swing counties in what may be the most important swing state in this election.

Four years ago, John Kerry's presidential campaign organization blitzed through Ohio's 16 heavily Democratic counties to generate massive voter turnout. On Election Day, Kerry won more votes in Ohio than any previous Democratic presidential nominee.

Stopping off in Washington for a series of television talk-show interviews Tuesday morning, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden didn't pass up the chance to ride the Amtrak train to Wilmington for an evening campaign event outside of Philadelphia.

Carrying a light brown satchel, Biden arrived on the Union Station platform in Washington, D.C. just before the 2pm departure, stopping to hug a uniformed Amtrak employee before waving another over to say hi, shaking his hand and talking to him like an old friend.

Biden is well-known on the route. On the stump, he talks frequently about his daily ritual of taking the train from his Wilmington home to his Capitol Hill Senate office every morning and back again every night

ERIE, Pa. -- This is the state that came through by 9 points for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the primaries -- after many pundits declared the nomination to belong to Sen. Barack Obama.

This is a town that's been suffering -- caught in an economic slump that has left many disaffected and disillusioned, even, dare we suggest, "bitter."

So it seemed worthwhile to check in with some folks in the wake of Clinton's advice that her supporters simply must back in Obama on economic grounds.

Well -- not so much, and not so fast.

SILVER CREEK, N.Y. -- Here in the far western portion of New York State, with lush vineyards around us, the "Good Morning America" crew recreated the classic grape-stomping scene from "I Love Lucy."

Some residents, meanwhile, are still talking about the economy -- and how they're ready to stomp out the old.

But we're finding again that the definition of "change," well, changes.

Here over the river -- with half of our train over American waters, half over Canadian waters -- is as good a place as any to consider one little-told border story.

The Canadian side here -- like much of Canada's economy -- is booming. High gas prices are actually good news for many in Canada, an oil-exporting nation where the dollar is strong and jobs are growing.

New York pollster Lee Miringoff thought there would be two hot poll questions for New Yorkers this fall:

1. Which presidential candidate from New York would carry the state in November, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton or former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani?

2. Whom should Gov. Eliot Spitzer appoint to the Senate to fill Clinton's term if she goes to the White House?

To say things didn't work that way is one of the great understatements of modern New York politics.

Clinton lost the Democratic nominating contest to Barack Obama. Former GOP front-runner Giuliani failed to win a single Republican primary or caucus despite spending tens of millions of dollars.

Divided by Their Politics, Mothers Find Some Common Ground on VP Pick

It's happening at kitchen tables and office water coolers, over e-mail and at friends' birthday parties: People nationwide are reeling from two head-spinning weeks that have reinvigorated John McCain's campaign for the presidency with the selection of vice presidential pick Sarah Palin.

Roundtable Discussion
Seven mothers -- two Republicans, one independent, and four Democrats -- sat down with ABC News in Stockbridge, Mass., to discuss Sarah Palin's impact on the race for the White House.
(ABC News)

"I did want to learn a lot more about her because of that acceptance speech," said Democrat Tina Hamilton, of Acton, Mass. "And I was wowed. I absolutely was wowed."

Still, Hamilton is one of many people taking a closer look now that "the dust has settled a little bit for me," and she is reminding herself that she does not agree with Palin's politics.

Hamilton was also one of a group of seven women, from diverse backgrounds, that ABC News invited to the small town of Stockbridge, Mass., to discuss the governor, her interview with ABC News and her impact on the race. Thousands of miles from Palin's hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, they formed an informal, if unscientific, focus group.

From the historic caboose on this train, the Pennsylvania 120, I filed this video blog on our first day on the rails, from the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

It's a pleasant day outside today -- in the upper 70s in Upstate New York -- but there's an issue that's picked up some mentions in the local papers the last few days: winter home-heating costs.

gas in winter

It will be winter's double-wallop: For people struggling to pay their bills, one particular bill is going to be as much as 25 percent higher than last year, according to the Center for American Progress.

LIHEAP -- the federal Low-Income Heating Assistant Program -- is designed to help. It sparks a perennial battle in Congress (fiscal conservatives and warm-state lawmakers tend to be less friendly to the federal subsidy) that almost always ends in some kind of compromise.

Almost. For this winter, after years of cutbacks, no money has been pumped into the federal pipeline. Without federal action, the program is done.

It's an issue that's among very many that fuels local anger toward Congress: People want their LIHEAP, just like they want their Medicare, say, and resent the inaction. An issue worth tracking in both local and federal races going into the fall.

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. -- It's hard to feel further from Wall Street out here on the rails -- as we roll past the lush green and picturesque towns in Western Massachusetts.

But the economic turmoil that's rocking so much of the country is evident -- in the empty, rusting buildings that dot the landscape, and mostly in the conversations we have when we climb off the train.

Even in gorgeous Stockbridge -- a liberal enclave, with a tourist economy that hasn't been hit the same way so many other parts of the country have -- the unease is real.

I commented to Connie Montgomery, a retiree who lives in Stockbridge, about how far we felt from Wall Street on a perfect day in this Norman Rockwell town -- as we got ready for a brief concert featuring James Taylor and Yo-Yo Ma.

"Oh yeah -- but we're not," Montgomery said. "There's a lot of retired people who depend on investments, and it's just very shaky."

McCain, Obama Fight Over Contested Tarheel State

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain are locked in a competitive race for the state of North Carolina. One of the battleground states in this year's presidential election, the Tar Heel State has voted Republican in the last four national elections.

mccain obama
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

But, while the state has been a Republican stronghold in years past, recent trends suggest there may be an opportunity for Democrats to turn the state blue.

Obama emerged victorious over Sen. Hillary Clinton in the May primary, largely backed by African-Americans, he took the state with 91 percent of the black vote and 56 percent of the total vote. McCain also won the state's Republican primary, besting his competitors with 74 percent of the vote. With 15 electoral votes on the table, both candidates have invested in North Carolina, pouring organizational resources into the traditionally red state.

The latest ABC News assessment categorizes North Carolina as "Battleground," but check back soon for more updates from ABC News.

Can McCain Make the Traditionally Democratic State a Battleground?

There was a time when the political leaning of New Jersey was not a foregone conclusion, but the Garden State has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 when George H.W. Bush took the White House.

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2008 presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are battling for Virginia, which went Republican for George W. Bush in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

While Sen. Barack Obama had a strong showing in New Jersey's Democratic primary, Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was endorsed by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, won the state with 55 percent of the vote to Obama's 44 percent.

McCain picked up 52 delegates in the state's Republican primary, besting his competitors with 55 percent of the vote. New Jersey was among other big state wins for McCain on Super Tuesday that helped him secure his status as the clear GOP front-runner.

Democrats currently control the state's Congress as well as the governorship and recent polls suggest Obama is the leading contender to pick up the state's 15 electoral votes in November.

The latest ABC News assessment categorizes New Jersey as "Leaning Democratic," but check back soon for more updates from ABC News.

It was a photo finish seen more often on the last lap on the Indianapolis 500 than in a presidential primary.

As Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., enter the weekend stretch before the May 6th primaries North Carolina and Indiana, many Democrats express concern over the long nomination battle.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Hillary Clinton's campaign had just about run out of gas and a dual defeat on May 6, 2008, would have almost certainly increased the calls for her to pull into the pit and cede the race to Barack Obama.

But Clinton won -- by only 14,192 votes in over 1 million cast.

Now Obama returns to Indiana with hopes of snatching the state that hasn't vote for a Democratic presidential contender since supporting President Lyndon B. Johnson over Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Sen. John McCain has all but a lock on the reliably Republican state of Idaho -- which hasn't favored a Democratic presidential contender since President Lyndon B. Johnson eeked out a one-percent victory over Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., got some R&R at his wife's ski getaway in posh Sun Valley but he wasn't there to contest the state in the tight 2004 election.

The lack of a competitive presidential landscape may make the most interesting race in the state the one to replace scandal-plagued Sen. Larry Craig.

But Craig, who leaves the Senate amidst an effort to clear his name related to a sex-sting operation in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, may have hurt the Republican party's reputation nationally, does not appear to have done much damage to the Idaho GOP. rates the Senate race between Lt. Gov. Jim Risch and former Democratic Rep. Larry LaRocco as "safe Republican".

Vermont's three electoral votes will likely end up in Sen. Barack Obama's tally without much of a fight.

Sen. John McCain can try to reach the pockets of religious conservatives tucked throughout Vermont but in 1988, the once-reliably red New England state made a hard left turn and never looked back. Both McCain and Obama were winners in the Vermont's March primary.

Both the state's senators -- Democrat Patrick Leahy and Independent Bernard Sanders -- were early supporters of Obama's presidential bid. The state's former Gov. Howard Dean made his own unsuccessful run for the White House in 2004 and now chairs the Democratic party.

And if you need more evidence of Vermont's left-of-center tendencies...

In March, voters in two Vermont towns approved ballot measures calling for a Bush-Cheney indictment.

Check back to see when ABC News' heads to Vermont!

Sen. Hillary Clinton's supporters might be singing the blues but they can still be counted on to vote Democratic come November. New York's 31 electoral votes should be a safe bet for Sen. Barack Obama, despite his 17-point loss there to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary.

Still, Obama's margin of victory over Sen. John McCain in New York could be a good, early indicator on election day of how willing Clinton supporters are to forgive and forget and align behind the Democratic nominee.

McCain has little chance of making significant in-roads within this reliably Democratic knot of voters, though his victory in the state during the Republican primaries was strong. In 1984, Ronald Reagan was the last Republican presidential candidate to win New York.

ABC News heads to New York on Sept. 16, 2008. Check back then to see what voters there are saying!

Connecticut's not the kind of place a Republican presidential candidate would expect to do well in. But John McCain's not your ordinary GOPer.

McCain Lieberman
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., seen here with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., awaiting President Bush at an event in Washington, ran as the Democratic running mate to then-Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 election.
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

If something happened that dramatically put a bunch of blue states in play, Connecticut is, like New Jersey, the kind of place where McCain could make some gains.

The nation's highest-income state, Connecticut has a streak of independence.

Longtime Senator Joe Lieberman, who served as Vice President Al Gore's running mate in 2000 and made his own bid for the White House in 2004 was reelected to Congress in 2006 as an Independent after he lost the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont.

Sen. Lieberman crossed party lines again this year to endorse his friend and Republican colleague Sen. McCain and even took a prime speaking slot at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

No Democrat has captured Connecticut's governor's mansion since 1986. A former Republican, Lowell Weicker, was elected governor in 1990 as an Independent.

But it will take a tide of a pretty good size to actually put Connecticut in play. For now, Obama can count on a likely win but no state can ever be taken for granted.

Wyoming's solid Republican tendencies face no real Democratic threat come the November general election.

During the March caucuses in Wyoming, Sen. Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney emerged victorious for their respective parties, but the Romney win doesn't mean Sen. John McCain will have any problems capturing the western state's three electoral votes.

The home turf of sitting Vice President Dick Cheney, Wyoming is reliably red and has voted for the Republican presidential candidate in the last ten presidential elections.

Check back to see when ABC News heads to Wyoming!

Despite hosting Sen. John McCain's August nominating convention, Sen. Barack Obama is favored to win Minnesota in November -- the state has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in the last eight presidential elections.

The state's red and blue pockets are distinct. McCain kept the Gopher State in the headlines amid intense speculation that early supporter and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty would be tapped for the second spot on his presidential ticket, though McCain ultimately chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Montana's three electoral votes lean in Sen. John McCain's favor but Sen. Barack Obama won't give up Big Sky Country without a fight.

In the last ten presidential elections, Montana has show it's left leanings only once: in 1992, when it voted for then-Gov. Bill Clinton over President George Bush.

McCain's story, military service and ties to the Western regions of the country will likely resonate with Montana conservatives but Obama's efforts in the state have been consistent.

Oregon's seven electoral votes lean blue in the November general election, but it doesn't mean the Beaver State will be won for the Democrats without a battle.

Oregon was consistently red till 1988 when it started leaning left. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry won Oregon by just 4 percentage points; in 2000, Vice President Al Gore took the state by 7,000 votes.

Sen. John McCain has focused efforts on the state's small towns, hoping to draw support from pockets with conservative and blue-collar voters. Sen. Barack Obama used the prolonged Democratic primary process to build strength in the northwestern state, campaigning there until late May and drawing a crowd of some-75,000 when he spoke in Portland ahead of the state's primary.

Will the Heart of Dixie beat for Sen. John McCain or Sen. Barack Obama on November 4?

Though Obama counted Alabama among his Super Tuesday victories over Sen. Hillary Clinton, bets are on McCain to win the state's nine electoral votes: ABC News counts the state as solidly Republican territory.

Still the McCain campaign isn't without concerns on the ground. Obama's candidacy could increase voter turnout among African-Americans who make up more than a quarter of the state's population. Their presence at the polls threatens to erode the high margins that Republican candidates have previously enjoyed in Alabama.

In the last ten presidential elections, Alabama has taken the Republican route eight times -- moving to the blue only once in that time period for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and marching to an independent drum in 1968 when it voted for Indy presidential candidate George Wallace over Republican Richard Nixon or Democrat Hubert Humphrey.

Check back to see when ABC News heads to Alabama!

While Mainers are leaning towards Obama, the Pine Tree State is moderate and fiercely independent; not necessarily a sure bet for the candidate.

Maine has voted Democratic in the last four election with John Kerry winning by nine percent over George Bush. But the state- who's motto is- "I lead," has always been more open to voting for independent and third party candidates.

Maine has had two independent governors recently. Angus King, who served from 1995 to 2003 and James B. Longley who served from 1975 to 1972. And in 2002 the Green Party candidate won nine percent of the vote for the gubernatorial election, one of the party's highest turnout for a statewide office.

In the Democratic primary Obama beat Clinton 59 to 40 percent and McCain did not do well against the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney who's fellow New Englanders turned out for him 52 percent over McCain's 22 percent.

Besides Nebraska, Maine is the only other state that divides their electoral votes, rather than letting the winner take all. However, the votes have never actually been split.

It comes as no surprise that the Aloha State and birth place to Barack Obama is solidly Democratic and slated to go to the candidate in November.

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(Sunlen Miller/ABC)

Hawaii has always leaned liberal and has voted for Democrats in all but two of the Presidential elections. In the Democratic caucus, Obama beat out Clinton 76 to 24 percent.

Having grown up there, Obama is popular in the Aloha state and was even referred to as "Hawaii's third Senator" by locals when elected to the US Senate to represent Illinois.

Obama made a big splash when he vacationed in Hawaii with his family in August. His homecoming was well received by locals but some in the McCain camp saw the trip as indulgent. And some analysts noted that it was politically risky to leave the continental US in the middle of a campaign.

Either way, the Aloha state is likely to turn out big for its native son and easily deliver the four electoral votes it carries.

The Great Plains state is almost a sure bet for John McCain. For the past ten presidential elections, Oklahomans have put a Republican at the top of their ticket.

President Bush got 66 percent of the vote in the 2004 election, and many believe that this home of the American Bison boasts one of the most conservative congressional delegations.

While state polls suggest that voters will likely turn out for John McCain, he only didn't overwhelmingly win the state's Super Tuesday primary, only edging out Huckabee 37 to 33 percent.

But one thing is for sure, Oklahoma, which in Chocktaw, means 'Red People,' is definitely a red state.

Since first being able to vote for President in 1964, the nation's capitol has always selected a Democrat, and by large margins. 2008 will likely be no different; the District is still solidly Democratic.

African Americans make up around 56 percent of the population, another factor that may help Barack Obama.

In the February primary, Obama easily defeated Hillary Clinton 75 percent to 24 percent. McCain won 68 percent of the Republican votes over Huckabee's 17 percent.

The District only has three electoral votes but in what is looking to be a tight race between McCain and Obama every vote could make an impact.

Turning red only twice in the last ten presidential elections, Rhode Island's four electoral votes are almost certain to fall in the Democratic column come November.

The Republican operation on the ground remains hopeful that Sen. John McCain can make some inroads among the state's reliably Democratic bloc given that Sen. Hillary Clinton won Rhode Island by 18 percentage points during its March Democratic primary. Still there has been little evidence that Sen. Barack Obama has had any difficulty gaining ground among state voters since becoming the Democratic nominee.

Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, D-RI, endorsed Obama in January alongside his father, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and cousin, Caroline Kennedy.

In the latest ABC News assessment, we've got Rhode Island's four electoral votes as solidly Democratic.

In the Mountain State where coal mining once ruled -- race could play a bigger factor in the presidential election than in any other state. West Virginia has been ranked by the US Census Bureau as one of the five least racially diverse states in the country and it's clear that race played a factor in the May Democratic primary.

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(ABC News Photo Illustration)

In the contest, Hillary Clinton solidly defeated Barack Obama by one of her widest margins of victory in the primary season winning 67 percent of the vote to Obama's 26 percent.

According to exit polls, two in ten whites said the race of the candidate was a factor in their vote. This could spell trouble for Obama -- as only 31 percent of those voters said they'd support Obama over John McCain. McCain beat out Huckabee and Romney in the primary but came in third in the state's February Caucus.

West Virginia has voted for a Democratic candidate for President 20 out of the last 36 times, but ABC News has the state leaning Republican this election. However the mountain state could very well be up for grabs and prove to be a key swing state in this contest.

Nevada, a True Battleground State, Is Up for Grabs

In a state that is perhaps best known for gambling and the unique allure of its famous 'Sin City', the presidential election odds are tight, with polls showing a dead heat between Sen. Barack Obama and John McCain.

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With the first debate only days away, both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama remain hesitant to take a stand on a solution to the economic crisis facing the nation.
(Reuters/AP Photo)

The state went Democratic in 1994 and 1996, but voted Republican in 2000 and 2004.

During the frenzy of the primaries, Nevada's caucus went for Hillary Clinton over Sen. Barack Obama but Obama walked away with more delegates in the process.

McCain, meanwhile, came in third in the GOP primary behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

As this red-and-blue roulette wheel begins to slow its spin, it is still unclear where the ball will drop come November.

1992 Was the Last Time the Peach State Went Democratic

Georgia, the classic Southern state where a soft drawl and warm nights fill the landscape with serenity, is proving to be less than calming for the presidential candidates.

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With the first debate only days away, both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama remain hesitant to take a stand on a solution to the economic crisis facing the nation.
(Reuters/AP Photo)

By maintaining a large staff and pursuing new voters there, Sen. Barack Obama has taken aim at the traditionally red state.

The state has not voted for a Democratic candidate in 16 years -- a fact which the McCain camp is counting on.

Sen. John McCain's campaign has no field office in Georgia, compared with the more than 30 field offices maintained by the Obama campaign.

Despite successful fundraising efforts in Georgia, especially in the Atlanta area, a recent shift of staffers from Georgia offices to North Carolina offices by the Obama campaign could signal a shift in strategy -- but the Obama camp maintains that it is not surrendering the state to McCain.

McCain lost Georgia's Feb. 5 Republican primary to Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, but according to the latest ABC News assessment, the state is still "leaning Republican."

A border state nestled in the Deep South, Mississippi has voted solidly Republican in every presidential election since President Reagan took office in 1980. The Delta State, named after the Mississippi River, carries six electoral votes.

(ABC News)

Senator John McCain beat his GOP competitors by a landslide in the state's Republican primary in March, winning 79 percent of the vote. Senator Barack Obama also had a strong showing in Mississippi, winning the Democratic contest with more than sixty percent of the vote, a victory that was largely supported by overwhelming support among black voters. Mississippi has the highest percentage of black voters of any state in the nation, however even if Obama is able to mobilize a record number of African-Americans, history suggests it may still be quite difficult for the Democrat to turn the state blue.

According to exit polls in 2004, Sen. John Kerry captured 90 percent of the black vote in Mississippi, however, President George W. Bush was still able to take the state by a margin of 20 percent.

It should also be noted that local Mississippi politics have taken an unexpected turn as just this year, the Democrats captured three Congressional seats from the Republicans in special elections.

Both candidates made stops in the Delta State during the long campaign season, and on September 26, McCain and Obama will appear together at the University of Mississippi in Oxford for the first presidential debate.

The latest ABC News assessment categorizes Mississippi as "Solid Republican," but check back to follow Mississippi's political tide and find out when ABC News will be visiting.

Ohio will be center stage this election, proving to be a tough battleground who's results could tip the scales of momentum in favor of one candidate. Polls show that Obama and McCain are neck in neck in the Buckeye State. Ohio has historically been a bellwether for the presidential elections, with many analysts believing it is a microcosm for the rest of the country.

For the past eleven elections, no candidate has won the White House without winning Ohio first. And no Republican in history has ever won the White House without winning in Ohio.

In the March Democratic primary Hillary Clinton emerged victorious over Obama and John McCain easily beat out Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who then conceded from the race.

In 2004, Ohio was ground zero in the race between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry. Turnout increased 20 percent in 2004 and Bush ultimately eked it out with 51 percent of the votes.

The southwestern corner of the state is the area to watch analysts say with new Democratic voters who are upper middle class, more educated and new to the state.

In Kentucky, candidates John McCain and Barack Obama battle for the state's eight electoral votes.

In 1992 and 1996, Kentucky went to Democrats. In 2000 and 2004, Republicans won the state.

Along the tortuous path to the November election, Sen. Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly won Kentucky's Democratic primary in May over Democratic presidential candidate Obama. The Illinois senator won just 30 percent of the primary vote compared to Clinton's 65 percent of the vote. McCain soundly won his party's Kentucky primary.

Check back to see when ABC News heads to Kentucky, and learn how the candidates are faring on the road to the White House.

The year 1976 was the last time South Carolina voted Democrat in the presidential election. Still, Democrats in the Palmetto state have been energized on the road to 2008, with a record number of votes cast in South Carolina's Democratic primary in late January.

New voters in South Carolina could make the conservative stronghold fall from GOP ranks and vote for Sen. Barack Obama, going Democratic for the first time since 1976.
(ABC News)

During the primaries, Republican candidate for president John McCain won the state's Republican contest with 33 percent of the vote over former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who clinched 30 percent of the vote.

Democratic pick Barack Obama won South Carolina's Democratic primary with 55 percent of the vote.

The presidential hopefuls now compete for eight electoral votes in the traditionally Red Palmetto state.

Check back to see when ABC News heads to South Carolina and see how the race is shaping up for McCain and Obama.

John McCain, Barack Obama Vie for Votes in the Volunteer State

Tennessee has 11 electoral votes up for grabs, but which presidential candidate will make it to the top of the charts -- and which one will be singing the blues after Nov. 4?

(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Tennessee has danced with both the Republican and Democratic parties in the most recent presidential elections, going blue for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, but red for George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004.

Al Gore probably doesn't want to remember that 2000 race -- after consecutive wins with his name on the ticket as Clinton's vice president, Tennessee spurned its native son.

Obama and McCain might be singing Don't Be Cruel to Tennessee voters, after they picked Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and Republicans chose former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in their contest.

Former Tennessee Republican Sen. Fred Thompson met a similar fate as Gore when he came in fifth in the state's Republican primary.

Will Tennessee be All Shook Up in 2008? Check back as ABC News hits all the high notes in the Volunteer State.

Last week, McCain advisor Mark Salter mentioned New Hampshire, as well as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Minnesota as key battleground states Republicans hope to win.

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(ABC News Photo Illustration)

On the road to the White House, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama scuffle for just four electoral votes in the Grantite state.

The state went to Republicans in 2000, but voters there opted for Democratic candidates in 1992, 1996 and 2004.

This time around, the Granite state's early January primaries were close calls for both Democrat and Republican contenders. Republican presidential candidate John McCain won the Republican contest with 37 percent of the vote to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's 32 percent. New York senator Hillary Clinton won the Democrat's battle in New Hampshire with 39 percent of the vote to Democratic presidential pick Barack Obama's 37 percent.

Check back to see when ABC News heads to New Hampshire and learn more about how the race will shape up for the candidates.

Ah, Florida.

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(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Up for grabs in the Sunshine state are 27 electoral votes -- votes that have been a source of fierce contention in the past.

Fighting for the White House, Democrats last won the state in 1996, though many folks still beg to differ after the famously disputed contest of 2000 between Bush and Gore. Republicans took Florida in 2004, 2000 and 1992.

This time around, late January primaries swept the battleground state into the 2008 election in late January. Now, Florida is seen as one of three states, along with Ohio and Pennslyvania, that is critical to the November 2008 election.

The Republican primary brought John McCain a victory, winning Florida with 36 percent of the vote to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's 31 percent.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., beat out Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the Democratic primary, collecting 870,986 votes, or 50 percent, compared to Obama's 33 percent.

Check back to see when ABC News heads to Florida and learn if, and how, the political tide turns for either candidate.

Obama, McCain Hope to Drive Away with State's Electoral Votes

In the race to the White House, John McCain and Barack Obama face a tough crowd in Michigan.

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(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Michigan voters who participated in exit polls after the state's primary overwhelmingly cited the economy as their top concern.

Facing economic troubles because of struggling industry, including an increasingly tenuous auto industry, Michigan also has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

But as Michigan tries to renew its economy, Obama and McCain renew their battle for the state's 17 electoral votes.

Neither presidential candidate won Michigan's primary. Obama's name wasn't on the Democratic ballot because he chose not to participate, later resulting in a delegate debacle. McCain came in second to Mitt Romney, R-Mass., whose father once served as governor of the state.

Check back to find out when ABC News will motor to Michigan and break down this battleground state.

Obama, McCain Each Hope the 'Bellwether State' Rings in His Favor

As goes Missouri, so goes the nation. Well, that is if history has anything to say about the 2008 race to the White House.

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(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Missouri has voted with the winner in every presidential election since 1904 (with the exception of 1956 race), earning the Show-Me State another nickname in political circles: The Bellwether State.

Not all that surprising, when one considers Missouri's makeup: with major cities St. Louis and Kansas City, to farms in the northern part of the state, to the rolling Ozark Mountains in the south, it's somewhat of a microcosm of the United States.

With 11 electoral votes at stake, both Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., hope to repeat their respective Super Tuesday primary victories and ride the Missouri wave all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But which will it be? And will Missouri again predict the winner? Stay tuned as ABC News takes a look at the candidates' arch rivalry as they battle their way to the White House.

'08 Race Faces Battleground in Hawkeye State Where It All Began

Will the 2008 presidential race boil down to the state where it all began?

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(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus, held on Jan. 3, 2008, launched Sen. Barack Obama onto the Democratic presidential map when he emerged victorious with 38 percent of the vote over party rivals Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Hillary Clinton, who won 30 and 29 percent, respectively.

Both Sen. Chris Dodd and Sen. Joe Biden, who later became the Democratic vice presidential nominee, dropped out of the race following Iowa, each capturing less than 1 percent of the vote.

Democrats have largely dominated the state politics of Maryland for the last century and all signs suggest the blue state will maintain its traditional color in this season's race for the White House.

With 270 electoral votes up for grabs, Maryland offers ten votes. The border state, lined by two large, liberal-leaning metropolitan areas, Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C., contributed to Sen. Obama's "Potomac Sweep" after Super Tuesday. The Senator decisively won the state's primary in February, helping Obama gain momentum over Sen. Hillary Clinton.

"Tonight we're on our way," Obama said in his victory speech from Madison, Wisconsin. "We now have won East and West and North and South and across the heartland of this country we love."

Maryland is also home to the popular Democratic Governor and former Baltimore Mayor Martin J. O'Malley as well as Democratic House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer.

The latest ABC News assessment categorizes Maryland as "Solid Democratic," but check back to see when ABC News heads to the state to learn more about the developing race.

Obama Hopes to Turn Historically Red State Purple

Cornhusker football fans paint Nebraska solidly red during the fall months, and so the state typically goes in presidential elections -- it has given all of its electoral votes to Republican candidates since 1964.

Obama / McCain - Nebraska
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

But Nebraska is one of two states that can split its electoral votes (Maine is the other), so Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's camp has set up shop in Omaha, the state's largest city, in an effort to wrestle one or more of the five electoral votes away from the GOP.

ABC News' assessment of the state puts it in the "leaning Republican" column, but Obama hopes to tip the scales and turn this red state just a bit purple.

The Illinois senator has an ally in Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who endorsed him in January.

Nebraska's other U.S. Senator, the outgoing Republican Chuck Hagel, is known as a maverick because of his willingness to break with his party on the war in Iraq and other key issues, drawing many comparisons to Republican presidential nominee John McCain, R-Ariz. But Hagel hasn't endorsed either candidate, and his name was even tossed out as a long shot choice to share a ticket with Obama.

Will history repeat itself with all of the Cornhusker State's votes on the board for McCain? Or will Obama throw a Hail Mary for an upset this political season? Stay tuned as ABC News delivers the highlights this fall.

Who will Wisconsin elect for the role of "Big Cheese" in the November general election?

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(ABC News Photo Illustration)

During the Democratic primary, Sen. Barack Obama emerged victorious over Sen. Hillary Clinton in the battleground state's February contest -- 58 percent to 41 percent.

In 2004, Democrat John Kerry eked out a Wisconsin win in the general election with less than 12,000 votes; in 2000, Vice President Al Gore defeated then-Gov. George Bush by less than 6,000. Operatives on both sides of the aisle expect a tight race again in 2008.

Blue Pennsylvania Highlighted as One of GOP's Top Three Targets

Democratic strategist James Carville once famously described Pennsylvania as "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between."

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(ABC News Photo Illustration)

As the fight for November comes in to focus, the Keystone State's 21 electoral votes will be key as the '08 race pits red against blue and moderate against moderate in Pennsylvania, a state that has gone Democratic in the last four presidential elections, though by ever-shrinking margins.

Sen. John McCain set sights on Pennsylvania as one of his top three Blue State targets in November; Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama lost the primary battle there to Sen. Hillary Clinton who was boosted to a 10-point lead by working-class white voters during the April primary.

Segregated Churches the Norm

Nowhere is the country's racial divide more obvious, more blatant, than inside its houses of worship.

Every Sunday parishioners head to their respective churches, the vast majority of which are filled with worshippers predominately of one race. Only 7 percent of American churches are racially integrated, according to the Pew Center.

It's a harsh statistic for a nation that has its first viable minority candidate with a shot at the White House, and decades after the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education knocked down the notion that "separate but equal" was constitutional.

"I don't think we segregate on purpose. Where you build a strong faith base in, you just kind of cling to that church," said African-American churchgoer Monica Boudouin.

Barack Obama's Home State Grapples With High Unemployment Rates

For Illinois Voters, It's the Unemployment, Stupid Barack Obama's Home State Grapples With High Unemployment Rates

Let's be honest. Few people ???if anyone ??? expect the blue state of Illinois to be clocked in the red or even purple column this November, primarily because Barack Obama , its new favorite son and senator, is running for the Oval Office and enjoys great popularity in his home state.

And while Barack may easily capture the land of Lincoln's 21 electoral votes, there is one issue with which the state is grappling that could be the deciding factor in voters' minds ??? unemployment. At a current rate of 7.2 percent, Illinois' unemployment rate rose from July to August and is at its highest level since June 1992, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those stats far outpace national numbers and the battle for jobs in the Prairie State has ignited an entrepreneurial spirit in some residents. They've decided to open their own small businesses to support their families.

Arizona Voted for Both Bushes, but Went to Clinton in 1996

As former Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore proved in 2000, the way to the White House is paved partially through your home state. In that year's election, Gore lost his home state of Tennessee, which would have given him the title of commander-in-chief.

(ABC News Photo Illustration)

John McCain isn't planning to repeat the former vice president's mistake. He's practically got Arizona's 10 electors locked up, as the state leans toward red.

McCain racked up an easy win against his Republican primary rivals in February. McCain has been a staple of Arizona politics since he was elected to Congress in 1982. Four years later he was elected to his Senate seat.

The other senator vying for a place on Pennsylvania Avenue, Barack Obama, hasn't fared as well in this region: Hillary Clinton beat him during the Democratic primary.

But don't count Obama totally out. While Arizona voted consistently for the Bushes, Bill Clinton was able to grab the state in 1996.

Colorado Is Battleground State in Dems' Political Plans

Barack Obama has made it no secret; the key to the White House is winning the West, and Colorado is one of the most coveted jewels in the close campaign. The battleground state and its nine electors sit amid a sea of strongly held Republican states (Utah, Arizona, Kansas, Wyoming and Nebraska). But John McCain can't yet count Colorado among his probable victories in his battle with Obama.

McCain couldn't even pry the state away from Republican opponent Mitt Romney, who trounced the competition by taking 70 percent of the primary vote.

While Obama did beat out Hillary Clinton in February, it will be no easy task to win Colorado ??? a state with both a Democratic and a Republican senator. The solution may be to win over the heavily populated Mile High City and its metro area, where Obama wowed the DNC with his acceptance speech in August.

South Dakota Is One State McCain Can Count on in '08

There's no doubt that South Dakota is a Republican-friendly state. Residents gave George W. Bush their votes during his two presidential campaigns, just has they had voted Republican in the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections.

(ABC News Photo Illustration)

This year is no different, and all expectations are that Sen. John McCain will add the Mount Rushmore State to his finally vote tally in his attempt to reach the magic number of 270 electoral votes. South Dakota only has three electoral votes up for grabs, but as the most recent presidential elections have proved ??? every electoral vote literally counts.

In a state where residents have the lowest state income taxes per capita in the country, the nuts and bolts of McCain's tax plan may have something to do with the Arizona senator's popularity.

He won a whopping 70 percent of the votes during the primary season, while Sen. Barack Obama lost the Democratic primary to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

State Often Goes to the Dems, Despite Heavy Support for Republicans in the West

The Democrats likely are counting on the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, as faithful blue states this political season. The aptly named Evergreen State gave Sen. Barack Obama a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton in February. He walked away with 68 percent of the vote.

In Washington the western portion leans to the left, but the eastern part of the state favors a more conservative prospective.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

For Republican Sen. John McCain, the results weren't as dominate, though he ultimately did come away with a win.

The place that gave birth to grunge culture and put the final coffin nail in 1980s hair metal has an intriguing balance. Washington often is seen as divided politically along the Cascade Mountains, with the western part of the state being more liberal and the eastern part more conservative.

And though the state's delegates went with the Democratic candidate in the last four presidential elections, a closer look at the returns from 2004 shows that the eastern portion heavily favored George W. Bush in his re-election campaign.

Polls indicate the nation's 42nd state is leaning heavily Democratic in the Race for '08, and will probably will give its 11 electoral votes to Obama this November ??? thanks in part to larger, liberal metropolitan areas like Seattle.

With its heavy involvement in the technology sector ??? Washington is home to Microsoft, online giant, game maker Nintendo and aircraft giant Boeing ??? the economy could be a major player in the fight for votes in Washington.

The good-time southern state known for Cajun food, Mardi Gras celebrations and its unique brand of politics, may not have as many electoral votes up for grabs as more populous states, but it doesn't make Louisiana any less interesting. The boot-shaped state went to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, but prior to that, it helped put Bill Clinton in office, siding with the former Arkansas governor in 1992 and in 1998.

(ABC News Photo Illustration)

In February, Sen. Barack Obama bested Sen. Hillary Clinton when he grabbed a win, and Sen. John McCain came in second in Louisiana to Mike Huckabee during the primary season. Today, the self-billed Sportsman's Paradise is a GOP stronghold in the 2008 election, helped, in part, by its Republican up-and-comer Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Always a big player on the nation's political scene, Texas' 34 coveted electoral votes have gone to Republicans in the last four presidential elections. It may have helped that the current president was the Lone Star State's governor when he first sought the country's highest office in 2004. And while Texas is, today, seen as an unwavering red state, it wasn't always the case.

(ABC News Photo Illustration)

When President John F. Kennedy aimed for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in 1960, he didn't think he could win without putting a southerner on the ticket. Enter Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson. Texas also was the home of feisty Democratic Gov. Anne Richards, who, in 1988, gave a piercing speech at the Democratic National Convention.

In this political season, Obama wasn't able to sway Texans his way, as Hillary Clinton picked up the state thanks, in part, to the Hispanic vote. McCain captured the votes of Texas Republicans and added the southwest state on his march to his party's nomination.

The nation's first state is one of its smallest but will play a big role in the 2008 election as six-term Sen. Joe Biden takes the national stage as Barack Obama's running mate.

The nation's first state is one of its smallest, and with its own senator running in this election,... Expand
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Odds are Delaware will go to the Democrats this November.

Biden has a strong following in his home state and Delaware has been reliably Democratic in the last four elections.

Sen. John McCain won the state's primary en route to the Republican nomination but it probably won't mean much as the Obama-Biden team looks to lock down their home territory of Illinois and Delaware to focus on nearby battleground states such as Pennsylvania.

Teddy Roosevelt Country Hasn't Voted for a Dem President Since LBJ in 1964

Could the battle for the White House extend all the way to the badlands of North Dakota? A few months back, the Obama camp thought, 'You Betcha!'

Pic image graphic of Sen. Barack Obama and John McCain over a scenic backdrop of North Dakota, with buffalo roaming in the Badlands.
Sen. Barack Obama and John McCain take their tight campaign for the White House to the plains of North Dakota, where the buffalo roam but the votes haven't gone for a Democratic presidential candidate since President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

North Dakota, the land where buffalo roam but the votes haven't gone to a Democratic presidential contender since President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, was one of 18 states in which Obama originally aired television ads and it's a split ticket state (two Democratic senators and a Dem congressman despite its red reputation).

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