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Battlegrounds: The South rises again

Newsweek dedicates most of its political coverage this week to the South. Writes the magazine's Christopher Dickey: "The election, and Obama's candidacy, have focused these anxieties like a lens. I found whites frustrated and indecisive about the campaign, families at odds, generations divided. Many who thought themselves beyond prejudice were surprised by their suspicions of the young black man from up north. Meanwhile, many slave-descended blacks, hugely supportive of the half-Kenyan, half-Kansan, Hawaii-reared Obama, seemed afraid to hope too much, inoculating themselves with pessimism about the chances that any man of color could win the presidency, even this man, even today, or that, if he does, he will survive. As I say, emotions are raw."

"People remember what they want to the way they want to, and call it history. That much is true almost any place in the world. But in the South, if people aren't careful, history can start to run their lives, even put them at risk. My father's brother, Tom, was a case in point: in the basement of his split-level home in suburban Atlanta he stored tons of artillery projectiles he'd dug up on Civil War battlefields. Many of them were still live ammunition. 'I do worry,' he told me in the 1970s. 'If this house ever caught on fire, it could do a lot of damage around the neighborhood. You'd hear the last shots fired in the Civil War.' (After Tom's death from natural causes in 1987, the core of the collection, duly defused, went to the Atlanta History Center.)"

MICHIGAN: The campaigns have spent more than $7 million combined in advertising in Michigan. And both candidates will be in Michigan over the next two days
OHIO: Next week, McCain visits Lima -- a traditionally Republican territory, but a county where Ted Strickland eked out a win in 2006.

VIRGINIA: The Washington Post looks at Obama's push to make VA a battleground. "For the past month, much of the Obama campaign's focus has been on registering voters. Virginia has recorded 147,000 new registrations this year -- it does not register by party -- and the campaign's goal is 150,000 more. It estimates that if 80 percent of those new registrants are for Obama, and that if 75 percent show up at the polls, that will mean a gain of more than 60,000 votes -- or an extra 1.75 percent, assuming turnout is around 3.5 million."

"To further close the gap, the campaign is targeting what it calls "sporadic" Democrats  -- potential supporters who missed at least one recent statewide race and may need a nudge to turn out for Obama -- plus moderate Republicans and independents who may be tempted to cross over. To reach this second group, the campaign is using 'micro-targeting' techniques popularized by the 2004 Bush campaign, divining voters' leanings through consumer preferences or other hints."

"'For a race that's going to be as close as this is, it will take a lot of pieces of the puzzle for us to add to be successful,' said Virginia campaign director Mitch Stewart, a South Dakota native who helped run Obama's primary campaigns in states including Iowa and Indiana. For the McCain campaign, the challenge is holding on to as much of Bush's 2004 advantage as possible, particularly by trying to win back voters who favored the president but also voted for Warner, Kaine or Webb. It is being undertaken with a ground operation more limited in scope and more hierarchical than Obama's. The campaign, which as elsewhere is working in close concert with the Republican National Committee, has opened six offices statewide, with three more on the way, on the theory that Obama's greater visibility is mostly for show and not worth the cost to match." 

The AP looks at Obama's push in seven reliably red states -- including Alaska, Georgia, Montana, North Dakota, and Indiana.