Barack Obama says there’s no red America or blue America, just one big united country. But not when it comes to getting elected.

Gunning for the 270 electoral votes the Democrat needs to win the White House, Obama is almost exclusively targeting tossup red states, the label for the ones that trend Republican. Any one of them might tip him to victory. Combined, they could give him a dominant win.

Meanwhile, ahead in the polls, Obama spends little time at all defending Democratic blue states except for one — Pennsylvania — where Republican John McCain is pushing hard.

The political math explains why Obama will be in Pennsylvania and Virginia today.

McCain and running mate Sarah Palin were also converging on Pennsylvania, trying to rally voters in the largely conservative areas of this swing state. McCain and Palin were reuniting for rallies in Hershey and Quakertown before going their separate ways to cover more ground.

Obama’s first stop: a rally in the strategic Philadelphia suburb of Chester.

The small city is in Delaware County, a pivotal swing area of the state. Neighborhoods here range from economically depressed to working class to ritzy. Republicans hold an edge over Democrats in voter registration, and both campaigns are surging to get out the vote.

Chester itself is predominantly black, but the broader county has a mostly white population.

The event is a cross-state bookend to Obama’s appearance Monday in Pittsburgh, where he pledged to cut taxes for the middle class and help factory workers as much as company owners.

Obama then heads again to Virginia, which is offering up political intrigue this year. Obama is vying to become the first Democrat for president to win the state in 44 years.

The Illinois senator was staging a rally at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, an area which has posted one of Virginia’s largest gains in voter registration this year.

At night, Obama will campaign in Norfolk, Va., a major military community. This will be Obama’s ninth trip to Virginia since he clinched the Democratic Party’s nomination in June.

McCain and Palin are campaigning aggressively in Virginia, too. The transformation of the Washington-savvy northern Virginia region, coupled with distaste for an unpopular president, no longer makes the commonwealth reflexively Republican.

Obama’s campaign exudes an air of calm and confidence. He plans to plug for votes in North Carolina, Florida and Missouri in the coming days.

Like Virginia, all of them went for Bush in 2004.


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