The 50 states plus the District of Columbia control 538 electoral votes. The candidate who receives a majority, 270, wins the presidency. Most states operate under a winner-take-all system. The breakdown for President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry:


States: California (55), Connecticut (7), District of Columbia (3), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), Massachusetts (12), Maryland (10), New York (31), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3)

Electoral votes: 153

Analysis: Kerry’s base has been largely unchanged since he won the nomination. New Jersey is the sole exception, bouncing between lean- and solid-Kerry for weeks. In what would be a brazen show of confidence, the White House is considering airing ads in the expensive New York City market to make a run at New Jersey. Odds of winning would be low, and the risks high, but it would send a jolt through the Democratic community.


New Jersey (15), Washington (11), Oregon (7), Maine (4) Michigan (17), Minnesota (10)

Electoral votes: 64

Analysis: New Hampshire slipped from Kerry’s column to “tossup” since early September, and is just a modest shift in the polls away from swinging back to Kerry or to Bush. Minnesota, one of the most volatile states, just barely moved out of the tossup category. In a close race, Bush aides acknowledge they can’t win Washington state or Oregon. Maine is tough for the GOP, too, but it is one of the few states that award votes by congressional districts. Bush may still be able to get an electoral vote from the northern part of the state. Michigan’s weak economy hurts Bush, but the growth of Republicans in rural reaches of the state force Kerry to spend money to keep the state in his column.


16 states and the District of Columbia for 217 votes


Alaska (3), Alabama (9), Georgia (15), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Montana (3), North Dakota (3), Nebraska (5), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (34), Utah (5), Virginia (13), Wyoming (3)

Electoral votes: 166

Analysis: It would take a blowout for Kerry to win Southern bastions like Virginia and Louisiana.


North Carolina (15), Arizona (10), Arkansas (6) Missouri (11), West Virginia (5), Colorado (9)

Electoral votes: 56

Analysis: Wisconsin and Nevada slipped back to tossup since early September, but barely so. Kerry reluctantly pulled resources out of West Virginia last week and put them in tossup states. Surprised by tight public polls, Kerry’s pollsters began their own surveys in Arkansas and Arizona last week. Former President Clinton is lobbying Kerry to compete again in his home state of Arkansas. The home state of Kerry running mate John Edwards, North Carolina, never came into play. Most polls show Colorado essentially tied, but analysts say demographics and history give Bush a slight edge.

TOTAL BUSH: 26 states for 222 electoral votes

TOSSUPS: Florida (27), Pennsylvania (21), Ohio (20), Wisconsin (10), Iowa (7), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5) and New Hampshire (4)

Electoral votes: 99

Analysis: The battleground has narrowed every month. Most strategists believe the winner of two of the three biggest states – Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – will take the White House. Bush won Florida and Ohio in 2000. Democrat Al Gore won Pennsylvania.

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