With New England wrapped up and most of the East Coast in the bag, Democratic Senator Barack Obama has seemingly won the key swing state of Pennsylvania. All the major news outlets are now projecting Obama will take the Keystone State and its 21 electoral votes, which would be a tremendous boon to his overall electoral count.
It was a major battleground win for Obama, even though Democrat John Kerry took Pennsylvania — which has historically been a Republican walkover — in his 2004 bid for the White House. Pennsylvania was a critical target for both parties, with both candidates campaigning heavily there in the final weeks of the campaign. Republican Senator John McCain had funneled considerable resources into the state, in an attempt to flip it his way. During the primaries, Senator Hillary Clinton swept the floor with Obama, winning by a margin of 10 percent.
After clinching Pennsylvania, Obama was then projected the winner in Ohio, which, along with Florida, was perhaps the next biggest target for electoral votes. Ohio, which also gave Clinton a primary win in 2008, has played a major role in recent elections; the state's 20 electoral votes were critical to President Bush's reelection in 2004, and no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio first. At around 9:25 p.m., MSNBC called Ohio for Obama.
With the polls officially closed in Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Delaware, New Jersey, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia and most of Indiana, Kentucky and Texas, CNN continues to project preliminary wins for both major-party presidential candidates.
Obama will take Vermont and its three electoral votes, as expected. CNN's exit polls show Obama leading McCain 57 percent to 36 percent in that state. Obama is also expected to take Massachusetts (with its 12 electoral votes); his home state of Illinois (21 electoral votes); Connecticut (seven); New Jersey (15); Maine (four); Joe Biden's home state of Delaware (three); Maryland (10); Washington, D.C. (three); Rhode Island (four); Michigan (17); Wisconsin (10); Minnesota (10); and New York (31)
Meanwhile, McCain is projected to win in Kentucky, where exit polls indicate he's leading Obama 51 percent to 42 percent. Kentucky has eight electoral votes for the taking. McCain is also projected to take Oklahoma (and its seven electoral votes); Tennessee (11 ); and South Carolina (eight). CNN also projects Alabama and its nine electoral votes will go McCain's way.
So far, CNN has Obama's electoral-vote count at 174 and McCain with 49.
CNN is also reporting that 62 percent of exit-poll respondents said the country's current and future financial woes were the chief reason they waited in long lines for their shot behind the curtain. Nationwide, 10 percent of respondents pointed to the war in Iraq as their most important issue, and of those voters, 36 percent pulled the lever for McCain.
Meanwhile, 9 percent of voters said the threat of terrorism was the top issue in this year's election, 86 percent of whom supported McCain's candidacy. Health care was another inspiring issue for voters, with 9 percent saying it was the top issue weighing on their minds.
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[This story was originally published at 8:25 p.m. ET on 11.04.2008]