The battlefield for the 2012 election may be smaller than 2008, involving just a handful of states.
The LA Times tries to get the lay of the land for this November and predicts about 12 states will help decide who controls the White House.
Ohio and Florida will once again be battlegrounds.
Both are perennial targets: Florida served as tiebreaker in the fiercely disputed 2000 presidential race, and no Republican has won the White House without carrying Ohio. That is one reason the state's freshman U.S. senator, Rob Portman, is believed to be on Romney's shortlist of potential vice presidential running mates.
Obama is also battling to keep toeholds in the South and interior West, two areas where he outperformed recent Democrats, carrying North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. His narrow win in North Carolina was the first for a Democrat in 32 years. Strategists hope to boost Obama's prospects by using this summer's nominating convention in Charlotte to rally support.
Nevada is another cause for White House concern, given its punishing jobless and home foreclosure rates. Romney handily won the Republican caucuses in February and can count again in November on strong support from the state's large Mormon population.
Other tossup states look more promising for Obama. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have gone Democratic in the last several presidential elections, although not without a fight.
That leaves three genuine swing states — New Mexico, Iowa and New Hampshire — which each party has carried at least once in the last three presidential campaigns. Of those, Romney may have the best shot in New Hampshire, where he owns a home and is well-regarded from his years as governor next door.