It's a strange Constitutional quirk that the voters of only a couple states will be lavished with -- and tortured by -- attention from the presidential candidates till November. But it's misleading to think of the election as just a dozen statewide races, because no state is immune from national trends.
As Election Day nears, If President Obama is competitive in Arizona, he's probably winning Florida and destroying Mitt Romney in Wisconsin. Likewise, if there's a close race in Wisconsin, Obama probably has little hope in North Carolina and Ohio. Here's our guide to some of the more interesting of the swing states this year. Right now, Obama's leading in most of them. But a lot can happen in seven months.
History: The state has voted for a Democratic president only once since Harry S Truman. But the Obama campaign thinks it might be able to make the state competitive, The New York Times' Adam Nagourney reports, and it's seeing how many voters they can register in three months. Obama lost to John McCain by 9 points there in 2008, which isn't huge considering Arizona is McCain's home state.
Why it's competitive now: Changing demographics and a heated immigration debate.
Trends that help Obama: The growing Latino population is not happy with several strict immigration laws passed by the Arizona legislature, The Times reports. Those voters might be energized by the Democratic candidate for an open Senate seat, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona. Latinos are 30 percent of the state's population.
Trends that help Romney: Latinos are only 19 percent of the voting age population. Latinos typically lag behind others in registering to vote.
Polling trend: The most recent poll, from the right-leaning Rasmussen on March 13, shows Romney beating Obama 51 percent to 40 percent. Real Clear Politics shows Romney leading by an average of 5.4 points. The Associated Press rates it as "leaning Republican."