It's not just about Ohio and Florida anymore. President Obama heads to North Carolina today then continues on to Virginia, hoping he can once again capture the longtime Republican strongholds in 2012; next week, it's off to the Mountain West, where he'll look for victory in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. "As Democrats, we can never go back to the 2000/2004 map," says a strategist. Those years required wins in either Ohio or Florida, but Democrats took neither state, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In Virginia and North Carolina, changing demographics are a positive sign for Obama. "The balance of power in these states is really shifting from rural areas that vote Republican in presidential elections to urban areas that vote Democratic in presidential elections," says a Democratic pollster. Meanwhile, the Hispanic population in the Mountain West helped Obama in 2008. If the president can repeat John Kerry's 2004 victories and add Virginia and North Carolina—or combine a victory in one of those states with wins in Colorado and Nevada—he will win the election, an insider says. The Journal notes that he took all four in 2008. (Read more President Obama stories.)