The race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to amass the requisite 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory is exactly where it was at the start of the long, volatile summer: focused on seven states that are up for grabs.
That's according to an Associated Press analysis of public and private polls, spending on television advertising and numerous interviews with Republican and Democratic strategists in battleground states. The analysis also took into account the strength of a candidate's on-the-ground organization and travel schedules.
A look at where the race stands state by state. The numbers in parenthesis reflect electoral votes.
SOLIDLY DEMOCRATIC (186):
California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
LEANING DEMOCRATIC (61):
Michigan (16) — Despite lingering economic pain in the auto capital, Michigan has large minority and union voting blocs that favor Obama. Romney, a native son whose father was governor, senses a possibly opportunity and may expand his advertising after the Republican National Convention to include Michigan.
Minnesota (10) — Low unemployment and a long streak of Democratic presidential nominees carrying Minnesota give Obama confidence.
New Mexico (5) — Influx of Hispanic and younger voters are Obama advantages in this state that was pivotal to the 2000 and 2004 elections.
Pennsylvania (20) — Pennsylvania has been Democratic territory in recent presidential races. Romney has continued campaigning here and the Republican National Committee is advertising in the state. But registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 1 million.
Wisconsin (10) — Romney may start advertising here after the conventions. Having led early on, Obama now running nearly even in polls with Romney, who hopes having native son Paul Ryan on the ticket will help. Still, Obama is well organized in the state. It has a heavy union membership and many minorities, and Democrats have carried the state in past six presidential campaigns.
UP FOR GRABS (85):
Colorado (9) — The state's conservative profile is changing. Young professionals and Hispanic voters were central to Obama's victory in 2008, but the sluggish economy has hurt his standing. Female voters in Denver's suburbs could play a big role.
Florida (29) — Florida is the prime target for both campaigns. Obama won in 2008, but the housing crisis and high unemployment are dogging him. Still, pressure is on Romney, who has little chance of winning without Florida, while Obama has paths to victory without it.
Iowa (6) — Obama's fondness for Iowa since his caucus victory in 2008 is less reciprocal than four years ago when he carried the state by 9 percentage points. The state is a leader in campaign advertising and travel heading into the fall. Des Moines was the most heavily saturated television advertising market in the country in August.
Nevada (6) —Nevada is the focal point of the nation's household economic woes: No. 1 in unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. Still, the race between Obama and Romney is tight. There's a strong labor and Hispanic vote, a plus for Obama. A higher Mormon population helps Romney.
New Hampshire (4) — Romney has a vacation home in New Hampshire, which is next to Massachusetts, where Romney was governor. He won the 2012 primary big, but Obama peeled off this Bush state in 2008 and has visited often.
Ohio (18) — Obama has the organizing advantage, although the economy remains a sticking point, especially in the industrial northwest. Obama has had a boost from slowly improving unemployment and GM's announcement of an expanded auto plant in northwest Ohio. But Romney is making a push in the rural southeast among working-class, white voters long cool to Obama.
Virginia (13) — Long a GOP bastion, Obama carried Virginia in 2008 by turning out young and minority voters. This helps him in suburban northern Virginia but he struggles in the rural and conservative South and West. Romney is using Obama's proposed cuts in military spending against this strong, defense contracting state. Obama counters with Romney's proposal to cut the federal workforce.
LEANING REPUBLICAN (47):
Arizona (11) — 2008 GOP nominee John McCain's single-digit victory in his home state, and Hispanic and young voter boom, give Obama hope that Arizona is trending as other states in the Southwest. But it's seen little action from Democrats so far.
Indiana (11) — Obama broke a 44-year GOP trend by winning Indiana in 2008, albeit by a single percentage point. Unemployment is high and the tea party is a new factor, both working against Obama. He's not actively campaigning there.
Missouri (10) — Obama's campaign is eyeing Missouri after GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin's comments on abortion and rape to see if it shifts the landscape, which currently favors Romney.
North Carolina (15) — Obama won this traditionally Republican state in 2008. But his announced support for gay marriage in May, just after voters resoundingly defeated a referendum to allow same-sex marriage, is seen as troublesome for the Democrat. He hosts his convention there next week.
SOLIDLY REPUBLICAN (159): Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.