DENVER, Colo. – Democrats and Republicans are going to be fighting over Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico this election year.
"It's clear that the Western states have had enough demographic change and political change that there are clearly four states in play in the presidential race that might not have been four years ago," said Chris Gates, chairman of Colorado's Democratic Party (search).
Since the 2000 Census, Arizona has gained two new votes in the Electoral College (search), bringing its total to 10. Colorado and Nevada have gained one each and now have nine and five, respectively. Those, combined with New Mexico's five, add up to 29 electors between these potential battleground states — more than many traditional prize states like Florida, which has 27.
Sen. John Kerry (search), D-Mass., hopes he can grab more of the Hispanic vote, while President Bush wants to garner support among white, independent transplants who have moved from California and the Midwest. Voters in the Western states are concerned about the war and the economy but really want to see how each candidate will handle Medicare, wildfires and the drought.
The more recent polls show the president leading Kerry in three of the four states by a small margin. Kerry's campaign has named its Western strategy the "four corners offense"; Bush considers himself a Westerner and Republicans say they've been in the region all along.
Click on the video box at the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Carol McKinley.