Election 2008: Southern Swing State Rankings

Here are our latest Southern Swing State Rankings (TM) -- Facing South's measure of which Southern states are the closest and could truly go either way:


1 - North Carolina - Obama +1.5
2 - Florida - Obama +2.4
3 - Georgia - McCain +3.4
4 - Virginia - Obama +6.7
5 - West Virginia - McCain +10.7

Here's where things stood as of last Monday:


1 - North Carolina - Obama +2
2 - Florida - Obama +2.2
3 - Georgia - McCain +4.3
4 - Virginia - Obama +7.4
5 - West Virginia - McCain +8.8

The Big Picture: North Carolina is still the state to watch -- the closest Southern race, which has only gotten closer.

Other than that, the biggest movement has been in states where the shifts aren't likely to change the outcome: Virginia is closer but still strongly favors Obama; Georgia is tighter -- and will continue to tighten as Obama ramps up advertising in the state -- but still definitely leans McCain.

McCain's lead is opening up in West Virginia, but that hasn't been a key target state on Obama's map anyway.

And then there's Florida -- the always-battleground state that's as tight as it ever was, and where both campaigns are shoveling vast resources.

At this point, which Southern states mean the most to each campaign?

For Obama, Virginia is the key state that puts him over the top in most scenarios-- making concerns about over-burdened poll sites and students being denied the vote particularly worrisome to the Democrats.

For McCain, the most valuable pickup would be Florida -- a place where Obama has gone "all in" with his top campaign staff and battles over registrations and voting hours have frustrated Democrats.

* The Institute's Swingability Rankings measure states by how close they are in the presidential race and therefore the degree to which they could "swing" either way. We use an average of the polling trend averages at Pollster.com, the state projections at 538.com, and a secret family recipe from grandma.