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Oregon could be 2012 battleground, says Gallup

Writing in the Los Angeles Times (posted Aug. 15), David Lauter notes that the latest state-by-state presidential approval polls from Gallup outline the likely electoral map for 2012.

Lauter notes that Obama's approval is more than 50 percent in 16 states - despite a national approval rating that is at its lowest point ever, 39 percent. Those 16 states, plus D.C., combine for 215 electoral votes. (Remember, a presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win.) That's Obama's base.

Twenty-two states, combined for 169 electoral votes, constitute the GOP base:

"At the other end of the scale, there were 22 states where Obama's approval was below 43 percent during the spring. Those states, plus Mississippi, where his approval was 45 percent, but which he stands virtually no chance of carrying, constitute the GOP base, with 168 electoral votes. (Mississippi is a special case because of the racial polarization in its voting; Obama is extremely popular among blacks, who make up almost 40 percent of the state's electorate, and very unpopular among whites in the state)."

In between, there are just 12 states where Obama's approval is between 43 percent and 50 percent. Oregon is one of them. Those 12 states combine for 155 electoral votes, and Obama would need 55 of them.

In fact, Obama's approval rating in Oregon - 44 percent - is the lowest of the 12 battleground states. That means that Obama's approvals are higher in such traditional battlegrounds as Ohio, Florida, New Mexico and Georgia.

Lauter argues that there are at least three states that may move into battleground status:

"... although some states may drop off the list, it's unlikely that many will move onto it. One exception could be New Hampshire - a state that Obama carried in 2008, but in which he is currently quite unpopular. It could become competitive again, depending on the GOP nominee. There are also a few states in Obama's base that moved sharply toward the GOP in the 2010 election, notably Wisconsin and Minnesota, which the White House still has to worry about."

Oregon, of course, has long been a state that appears on early battleground lists, always to drop off the list as the election nears. We'll see what happens in 2012.

Back in 2008, 538's Nate Silver noted that Oregon is unique in that it has the most conservative conservatives and the most liberal liberals of any state in the country. Which may explain the low approval rating - lots of angry conservatives, and yes, lots of cranky progressives.

What do you think? Will Oregon come home to President Obama - as it has for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1984? Or will it be competitive all the way to the end?

(Kari Chisholm is one of the launchers of BlueOregon. com. Self-described as "once a political campaign hack," Chisholm now runs Mandate Media, a consulting firm that does "Internet strategy for people changing the world." His personal blog covers Politics and Technology. In 1999-2001, Chisholm was the volunteer board chair of X-PAC, a nonpartisan group that sought to build a new generation of political leaders and community activists in Oregon.)