A look at the most competitive states in the race

Associated Press Modified: November 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm •  Published: November 4, 2012
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A look at the race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. With two days left in the campaign, Obama appears closer to the goal, but Republican Mitt Romney has closed on the Democrat and pulled narrowly ahead in some battleground state polling.

The designations are based on an Associated Press analysis and are not intended to predict the outcome of Tuesday's election. Rather, they are meant to provide a snapshot of a race that has been stubbornly close in the small number of most competitive states all year.

The analysis is based on public polls and internal campaign surveys as well as spending on television advertising, candidate visits, get-out-the-vote organizations and interviews with more than a dozen Republican and Democratic strategists in Washington, and in the most contested states.

A look at where the race stands state by state. The numbers in parenthesis reflect electoral votes.

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SOLIDLY DEMOCRATIC (186):

California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

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LEANING DEMOCRATIC (63):

Iowa (6) — Romney sees opportunity in a key state for Obama in 2008. He's visited a half-dozen times in about two weeks and shaved Obama's early vote advantage. But internal Obama campaign polls and public surveys have shown Obama with a steady edge. The state is within reach for Romney, but he needs heavy election day turnout to trump Obama's early vote edge. Obama planned to end his campaign in Iowa, which Republicans said showed instability. Obama aides said it was a nod to the state that gave him his first primary win in 2008.

Michigan (16) — Despite lingering economic pain in the auto capital, Michigan has large minority and union voting blocs that favor Obama. Romney, a native son whose father was governor, sensed opportunity earlier in the campaign but his opposition to auto industry bailout is seen as prohibitive.

Minnesota (10) — Low unemployment and a long streak of Democratic presidential nominees carrying Minnesota give Obama confidence. But Romney began advertising in the state last week, followed quickly by Obama. Some see the ads as a way to reach competitive western Wisconsin, although Romney aides discussing sending Romney and running mate Paul Ryan in campaign's final week in light of tightening polls.

Nevada (6) — Nevada is the focal point of the nation's household economic woes: No. 1 in unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. The race has been tight, but has moved Obama's way in recent weeks, backed by huge labor and Hispanic voting blocs. Romney sent Ryan to the state on the campaign's final swing, while Romney concentrated on Ohio, Florida, Virginia and other states.

New Mexico (5) — Influx of Hispanic and younger voters are Obama advantages in this state pivotal in 2000 and 2004.

Pennsylvania (20) — Pennsylvania has been Democratic territory in recent presidential races. Romney is campaigning in the state and the GOP is advertising in it. But registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 1 million.

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UP FOR GRABS (83):

Colorado (9) — Romney is running even with Obama and has nosed ahead in some public and private polls. The state's conservative profile has changed, but unemployment remains high, above the national average. Young professionals and Hispanic voters were central to Obama in 2008 and remain his strength. But the fight for suburban women in the Denver area is seen as critical. Romney is using an argument that Obama has failed women economically while Obama has attacked Romney for months for positions on birth control and abortion.

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