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Analysis: Changing the electoral map

  • Story Highlights
  • CNN unveils the first of many CNN Electoral Maps of the 2008 general election
  • Map based on analysis from the CNN political unit
  • CNN estimate: 10 safe Democratic states, 16 safe Republican states
  • Several other states, including Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, are up for grabs
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From John King
CNN Chief National Correspondent
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(CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama is setting his sights on some traditionally red states, hoping to rout Sen. John McCain by redrawing the Electoral College map. has put together an interactive electoral map. has put together an interactive electoral map.

Both candidates are eyeing states that were traditionally seen as out of reach for their party.

There are potential map changers because of a variety of factors: Obama and McCain's personal attributes, policy positions and even the year we are in.

These factors could redefine the electoral map, to a degree.

The map is based on the CNN political unit's analysis of several factors, including polling, voting trends, ad spending, candidate visits and guidance from the campaigns and political strategists.

The candidates have to start by locking in their foundations. For Obama, the Democratic foundation includes 10 states plus the District of Columbia, giving a total of 153 Electoral College votes. Check out's latest interactive electoral map

The states are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the White House.

There are four more states CNN thinks are leaning Democratic. Those have a total of 37 electoral votes. Video Watch John King break down the electoral map »

If you're Obama, your first move should be to lock in those states, get the right staff and try to move the poll numbers your way to make sure you don't need to be spending a lot of time and resources in places that should be yours.

For McCain, there are 16 states CNN considers to be safe Republican states based on past voting patterns and recent polls.

Those 16 states, which would net 125 electoral votes, include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Another eight states, according to CNN, are leaning Republican. Most of those states could eventually become Republican. Those states would net another 69 votes.

As of Tuesday -- and it's early -- there are about 194 votes from either leaning or safe Republican states, and 190 from leaning or safe Democrat states.

There are a dozen states CNN would consider toss-up states -- and it's an interesting mix. Some are always toss-up states, such as Florida and Ohio.

CNN has color-coded these states in yellow.

CNN has determined that Pennsylvania and Michigan are toss-ups for Obama. Those have been reliably Democratic states in the past, but are states where he had problems with white, blue-collar, working-class voters.

If McCain can take Pennsylvania and Michigan off the Democratic map, that would change the election.

Then there's New Hampshire. McCain won the state's primary. The state has been trending Democratic. It should be a state for Obama, but it could be a toss-up.

Virginia, which used to be a red state, has recently become more Democratic -- especially in the northern part of the state where a large segment of the population lives.

Obama has the support of the state's Democratic politicians -- Gov. Tim Kaine, former Gov. Mark Warner and Sen. Jim Webb.

Out West, Colorado is a state Obama wants to take out of the Republican map. CNN would call it a toss-up state. The state recently elected Democrats, Gov. Bill Ritter and Sen. Ken Salazar.


For Obama, the focus may be on taking away some Republican states, or at least forcing the Republicans to spend time and desperately needed resources there.

It's the same for McCain, who will compete for blue-collar, Reagan Democrat votes in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

CNN's Ed Hornick contributed to this report.

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