Amid a bad economy and troubled poll numbers among blue-collar voters, the 2012 election won’t be an easy one for President Obama—so his team is building an unorthodox plan. Though he’ll keep an eye on standard battlegrounds like Ohio and Florida, Obama also will make a big push in Southern and Rocky Mountain states that aren’t typically considered Democratic ground. (Think Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina.) Some of them went blue in 2008 and some didn’t, but Obama believes that shifting demographics can work in his favor, the New York Times reports.
“There are a lot of ways for us to get to 270, and it’s not just the traditional map,” says strategist David Axelrod. “That’s why we’re laying the groundwork across the country to compete on the widest possible playing field next year.” Virginia and Colorado, for example, have large populations of highly-educated, higher-income independent voters. And Virginia has seen “an influx of Latinos, African-American families, Asians,” says a Democratic strategist. And “the truth is, Obama needs fewer white voters in 2012 than he did in 2008,” notes a Republican adviser.