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Mccain's Mountain Of A Problem

Our model does not make any specific adjustments for early voting, but it is presenting a major problem for John McCain in three states in the Mountain West region, where Barack Obama has a huge fraction of his vote locked in.

In the wee hours of this morning, Public Policy Polling released data from Colorado and New Mexico. The toplines are strong for Obama, giving him leads of 10 and 17 points, respectively in those states. What's worse for McCain, however, is that PPP estimates that nearly two-thirds of Coloradans have already cast their ballots, as have 55-60 percent of New Mexicans, with large majorities of those votes going to Barack Obama. This is backed up to some extent by Michael McDonald's turnout statistics. In Colorado, the state had already processed approximately 1.3 million ballots as of Thursday, around 60 percent of the total 2004 turnout. In Bernalillo County (Albuquerque), New Mexico (statewide figures are not available), 145,000 ballots had been cast as of Wednesday, equaling 55 percent of 2004's total.

Should New Mexico and Colorado become safe Obama states, McCain's only realistic path to victory runs through Pennsylvania. Even if McCain were to win the Keystone, however -- say that Philadelphia remains in a collective stupor from the Phillies' win and that there is some sort of Bradley Effect in the Alleghanies -- Obama has a pretty decent firewall in the form of Virginia and Nevada, which had already achieved 53 percent of its 2004 voting totals as of Wednesday, and where Democrats have a 23-point edge in ballots cast so far in Las Vegas's Clark County (and perhaps more impressively, a 15-point advantage in Reno's Washoe County, a traditionally Republican area). The Kerry states less Pennsylvania, but plus Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Iowa and Virginia, total 270 electoral votes: an ugly, nail-biter of a win for Obama, but still one that would get him to 1600 Pennsylvania all the same.

--Nate Silver