Assuming the president is able to hold on to the states that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) won in 2004 — a not entirely risk-free assumption — the campaign could try to follow what Axelrod and Messina are calling the “West Path.” If Obama wins Colorado (and its nine electoral votes), New Mexico (five) and Nevada (six) and adds them to Kerry’s 246 electoral votes, he would have 266. Add in the six electoral votes from Iowa, where Obama has been leading the polls (but Republicans have been making voter registration gains), and he’d have 272.
The second path for Obama to pursue is the “Florida Path,” which would mean winning the Sunshine state and its 29 electoral votes. That total added to Kerry’s 246 electoral votes would equal 275.
The third path is the “South Path,” which involves winning North Carolina (and its 15 electoral votes) and Virginia (13) to Kerry’s total to reach 274.