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Old 11-04-2008, 07:06 PM  
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25 Key Counties to Watch....Greene County, MO at #6

Main city in Greene County is Springfield.
St Louis County comes in at #5.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/200...litico/15254_1

25 key counties to watch tonight
Charles Mahtesian – Tue Nov 4, 2:24 pm ET


Generally, the counties that matter most are located in closely contested states, where they play a key role in determining the winner. Thus the most populous county in the U.S. — Los Angeles County, located in safely Democratic California — isn’t nearly as important in determining this election as the 95th largest county — Albuquerque’s Bernalillo County, the gateway to winning the swing state of New Mexico.

Of the 2,530 counties that George W. Bush carried in 2004, or the 583 that John Kerry won, just a few dozen stood out for reasons of competitiveness, population size or for what insights their voting habits revealed.

With that calculus in mind, here are 25 critical counties that could help determine the winner of this year's race.

1) Washoe County, Nev.: The second-most populous county in the state and home to Reno, once-reliably Republican Washoe gave Bush a narrow 51 percent to 47 percent win in 2004. McCain needs to run at least as well in Washoe and win Nevada’s rural counties to overcome Obama’s expected win in Nevada’s population hub, Las Vegas’ Clark County.

2) Douglas County, Neb.: It seems almost unthinkable that Omaha’s Douglas County, which gave Bush 58 percent of its votes in 2004, would make this list. But because Nebraska is one of just two states that allocates an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district, rather than awarding them all to the statewide vote winner, the Obama campaign has made a determined effort to win the Douglas County-based 2nd district — the least Republican of Nebraska’s three seats. In a close race, that one electoral vote might make all the difference.

3) Bernalillo County, N.M.: Home to about one-third of New Mexico’s population, Albuquerque’s Bernalillo County is critical for both campaigns. Obama will likely carry the county, but the margin will be important in a state where the results of the last two presidential elections have been breathtakingly close.

4) Dona Ana County, N.M.: McCain's bid for New Mexico depends on his tapping into the growing numbers of independent voters in the Democratic-leaning county that is home to Las Cruces, the state’s second-largest city.

5) St. Louis County, Mo.: McCain will likely win rural Missouri and Obama will win the big urban bookends, St. Louis and Kansas City. But McCain also needs to keep Obama from outperforming John F. Kerry's 55 percent in Democratic-leaning suburban St. Louis County, which is the most populous in the state — and which doesn’t include the city of St. Louis within its borders.

6) Greene County, Mo.: Home to the headquarters of the Assemblies of God, one of the largest Protestant denominations, Springfield’s Greene County is critical to McCain’s bid for Missouri’s 11 electoral votes. Bush won 62 percent here in 2004, and McCain needs to hit that number or surpass it — which is why Obama showed up here in the final week of the campaign.


7) Jefferson County, Colo.: There are still more registered Republicans than Democrats in this Denver suburb, but it may not be that way for long. Once a GOP bastion, this Jeffco has moved to the center in recent years; Bush carried it in 2004 but so did Democrat Ken Salazar in his Senate race. One measure of the county's importance — GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was dispatched here to hold one of her first solo events after the Republican National Convention.

8) El Paso County, Colo.: This conservative stronghold, home to Colorado Springs, produces GOP margins that are almost enough to offset the Democratic vote advantage in Denver. McCain will need to take at least two-thirds of the vote here in Colorado’s second-most populous county to have any shot at winning the state.

9) Franklin County, Ohio: Ohio’s second-largest population hub after Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, Columbus’ Franklin County is trending increasingly Democratic. Since Cincinnati’s Hamilton County is no longer a reliable Republican bulwark, a big Obama win here would go a long way toward sinking McCain’s chances in the state.

10) Butler County, Ohio: Cincinnati’s suburban Butler County was a key part of the exurban and micropolitan firewall that enabled Bush to carry Ohio in 2004. The 54,000-vote margin it delivered to Bush was his largest in any county in the state.

11) Mahoning County, Ohio: As a vote source, Youngstown’s Mahoning County pales next to Cuyahoga County, Franklin County, Dayton’s Montgomery County, Akron’s Summit County or Toledo’s Lucas County. But the results here will be revealing because if Obama is running below 60 percent in this industrial area, that’s a bad sign for him — and it probably signals he’s struggling in western Pennsylvania, too.

12) Lancaster County, Pa.: George Bush won 66 percent here in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country in 2004 while narrowly losing Pennsylvania. McCain will need to do at least as well here to help offset the massive margin Barack Obama will win in Philadelphia.

13) Philadelphia County, Pa.: There is no real Philadelphia County; it’s coterminous with the city itself. In 2004, Kerry won a blowout 80 percent win here — and left the city with a 412,000-vote margin of victory. The McCain campaign questions whether Obama can exceed that jaw-dropping number and figures that if they can keep Obama below that 412,000-vote margin, they can make up the difference in the rest of the state. “If you can figure out what I’m going to lose [Philadelphia] by,” said McCain campaign manager Rick Davis on Sunday, “you’ll know if I can win Pennsylvania.”

14) Westmoreland County, Pa.: After Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, this is the largest county in western Pennsylvania. It’s been trending Republican, so it’s fertile ground for McCain, and Hillary Clinton crushed Obama here in the Democratic primary. For McCain, winning Pennsylvania is contingent on winning western Pennsylvania, and winning western Pennsylvania is contingent on winning Westmoreland.

15) Chester County, Pa.: Of the big four suburban Philadelphia counties, Chester is the only one that voted for Bush in 2004. But GOP margins there are on the decline and Chester appears to be up for grabs this year. If Obama wins here, then he probably carries the other three suburban counties by even larger margins. Add them to the landslide he’ll win in Philadelphia and all of sudden Pennsylvania begins to look out of reach for McCain.

16) Maricopa County, Ariz.: After Los Angeles County, no county in the nation delivered more votes to Bush in 2004 than Phoenix’s Maricopa County. If McCain can’t duplicate or beat Bush’s 57 percent in his own backyard, then he may be destined for Al Gore’s humbling fate — losing his home state.

17) Cobb County, Ga.: Since 1976, GOP presidential nominees have averaged 62 percent in this populous Atlanta suburb. But polls show McCain running considerably behind that clip in Cobb. McCain isn’t a great fit in the socially conservative county, but there is another factor at play in driving down his numbers: Roughly a fifth of the population is African-American. Then there is the wildcard — the Libertarian nominee, Bob Barr, was once the local congressman.

18) Lake County, Ind.: Home to Gary and East Chicago, Lake County drew national notice during the Democratic primary in May after its votes came in suspiciously late. Obama will need a strong performance out of this heavily Democratic county to have any chance of winning Indiana.

19) Prince William County, Va.: Between 1976 and 2004, fast-growing, exurban Prince William County in Northern Virginia supported Republican presidential candidates by an average margin of 18 points. But as it’s grown more diverse, GOP margins have declined considerably. In 2005, it voted for Democrat Tim Kaine for governor. Both presidential campaigns have paid close attention to the county, but Obama through mid-October held an 8-point lead here, according to a Politico/InsiderAdvantage poll. If he wins by that margin on Election Day, it would probably be a harbinger of a Northern Virginia blowout that would overwhelm McCain’s ability to offset it with votes from elsewhere in the state.

20) Hillsborough County, Fla.: Both campaigns have given lots of love to Tampa's Hillsborough County — McCain was there just yesterday — which Bush carried 53 percent to 46 percent in 2004. In presidential elections, it has a slight Republican lean but Obama is outperforming Kerry here this year in what is one of Florida’s premier battlegrounds. Since 1960, no candidate has won Florida without winning Hillsborough County.

21) Hillsborough County, N.H.: If New Hampshire is going to deliver for John McCain once again, this is the county that will do the heavy lifting. The largest county in the state and home to Manchester, Hillsborough twice voted narrowly for George Bush.

22) Wake County, N.C. : Though twice carried by Bush, Wake County’s trendline is Democratic as the affluent and educated electorate in the Research Triangle moves away from the GOP. The state's second-most populous county after Charlotte's Mecklenburg County, if Obama wins big here that's a troubling sign for McCain.

23) Waukesha County, Wis.: McCain needs to roll up big margins here in Wisconsin’s third-largest county, just west of Milwaukee, to have any shot at winning the state. Anything less than two-thirds of the vote means McCain would have a very tough time overcoming the big Democratic margins coming out of Milwaukee and Madison’s Dane County.

24) Oakland County, Mich.: Michigan is a longshot for McCain, but if he wins the state it will begin with a victory here in the historically Republican suburban of Detroit. The problem? Oakland County, the second-largest in Michigan after Detroit’s Wayne County, is trending Democratic and narrowly voted against Bush in 2000 and 2004.

25) Cass County, N.D.: If Obama does the unimaginable and wins North Dakota — and polls suggest he's got a shot at it — it will be because he carried Fargo’s Cass County, the motherlode of votes in a sparsely populated state. Here’s what he’s up against — the past two Democratic nominees have failed to crack 40 percent here.
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Old 11-04-2008, 07:08 PM   #2
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Given all the freaking Obama stickers I've seen in Springvegas, I think it's safe to say that McCain might win 50-55% of the vote.
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Old 11-04-2008, 07:10 PM   #3
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I live in #5. In Hazelwood, to be precise. For my job, I cover the entire St. Louis metro, and based on a comparison of the number of visible Obama supporters (tee-shirts, yard signs, bumper stickers) vs. the number of visible McCain supporters, I think it is a safe bet that Obama will surpass or at least match Kerry's 55% here in the County - and his support in the city is even higher.
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Old 11-04-2008, 07:17 PM   #4
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The thing to keep in mind when they start reporting on MO is that the rural counties come in first. If it's even remotely close early on, Obama's taking the state.
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