According to John King at CNN, the McCain campaign has quietly and privately conceded New Mexico (no big surprise there)Iowa, and Colorado. Take all non-attributed reports with a grain of salt, but CNN was right about the GOP conceding Michigan.
Why is that so significant? Because if Senator Obama wins every state that John Kerry won plus Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado, he would win the election--even if Senator McCain were to pull out wins in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, and Nevada.
Everyone assumed that the McCain campaign would have to put Virginia back in the Red column at some point, but it looks like the demographic change in that state has made that unlikely. Now, if the McCain campaign has essentially conceded Colorado and Iowa, even that would not be enough. Instead, their new strategy seems to be to fight for wins in Nevada (still neck and and neck), Florida, and Ohio and to try to flip Pennsylvania instead.
Pennsylvania has been in the "leaning" Obama to solid Obama in most projections. CNN's poll of polls shows Obama with a thirteen point lead there. Even were McCain to somehow flip Pennsylvania, win Ohio and Florida, but lose Virginia, he would still have to sweep Missouri and Nevada to eke out an electoral win.
Why Pennslyvania instead of Virginia? The story doesn't say but I suspect two reasons:
--Some polling data suggests that Colorado voters raised John McCain's "negatives" because they felt he was running a negative campaign. I suspect the GOP believes that it would have a greater possibility of success with a negative campaign in Pennsylvania than Virginia, where the Northern Virginia demographic (educated, middle to upper class, politically informed) has grown and helped tip the state AND doesn't like negative campaigning. [Does that sound "elitist"? Yes, just as the Republican strategy seems to pander to a reverse elitism--because we are willing to listen to smear campaigns we are the "real America" and hence better than those informed voters.]
--Senator Obama, of course, was beaten badly in the Pennsylvania primary by Senator Clinton, despite campaigning heavily in that state. It was that primary that led Senator Clinton to make the argument that Senator Obama could not win white, working class voters and carry the states needed to win the electoral college. Obama proved otherwise, but prepare for the GOP to resurrect that argument. Also Senator Obama's self-proclaimed biggest campaign gaffe was the infamous "cling to guns and religion" comment, which was taken out of context to reinforce the stereotype that he was an elite. I would expect the GOP to run that quote over and over in robocalls and ads in Pennsylvania.
On the one hand, this news depresses me because its more of the cynical same from the McCain camp. On the other hand, I suppose one can argue that if the other side is throwing a "hail mary" that means they are behind and getting increasingly desperate.