Ohio especially, as the Dem heartland of the buckeye state is in the heavily Catholic northern part of the state (westside of Cleveland and its suburbs, Steubanville, Youngstown, Lorain, etc.). I expect McCain to clean house in Cincy and its suburbs and in the SE part of the state (Appalachia). The blacks in east Cleveland, Dayton, inner Columbus, and north Cincinatti will not be enough to take the state. He needs a solid turnout from blue collar and elderly Catholics in the northern part of the state, along with independents in the Columbus area (although I predict only a slight win in the city, with a loss in the suburban towns). Advantage: McCain.
We lost PA from 92-04 only due to the collapse of the GOP vote in the mainline suburbs (Montgomery and Delaware Counties) to say nothing of Bucks and a subpar performance in Chester Counties. Although the black population has increased in both Montgomery and Delaware Counties over the past 15 years, McCain can bring these back in the GOP column provided the "ladies who lunch" don't stay home (I DON'T see them voting for Obama due to the rather coarse racial politics of the Philadelphia area).
Michigan is in many ways a replay of Pennsylvania, with a huge black population in the largest city of the state, but with suburbs largely the product of white flight and affected by racial tension. See Oakland County as Montgomery County and Macomb County as Delaware County and you'll see my point. I see McCain bring Macomb into the GOP column for the first time since 88, with Oakland going narrowly for McCain due to the large black populations in Southfield and Pontiac.
Clemenza, I agree with your predictions.
In Michigan, Obama will win huge margins in Detroit and its heavily black suburbs, as well as in college towns such as Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and East Lansing, but will run poorly in traditionally Democrat blue-collar white areas such as the “Downriver” towns south of Detroit (including losing big in Monroe County) and in the formerly blue-collar, now middle-class Macomb County suburbs; John McCain should also win huge margins in the Thumb and run about even in the Flint-Saginaw-Bay City corridor. The white rural areas in the northern half of the Mitten, where Gore and Kerry ran surprisingly strongly, will not vote for Obama, nor will the UP. If things go as they appear to be going, I think McCain will turn President Bush’s 48% near-miss into a 52% victory.
Ohio should be an even bigger win for McCain. Obama may not do as poorly in SE and East OH as he did in the RAT primary, but he certainly won’t win the types of margins that he would need in order to have a chance statewide. Right now, I’d say that McCain will win it 54%-45%.
In Pennsylvania, Obama will win hellacious margins in Philly (although maybe not so much in the NE part of the city nor the white ethnic parts of South Philly) and in black parts of Delco, but McCain will carry Bucks and maybe even Montco (Jewish voters will not turn out for Obama, and McCain has affirmative strength among liberal Republicans) and should win big in the Chester-Berks area and the Lehigh Valley (as well as, it goes without saying, the Lancaster area). The Coal Country around Scranton/Wilkes-Barre won’t give Obama the margins he needs, and the “T” should vote as heavily Republican as ever. In Western PA (the Pittsburgh, Beaver and Erie areas), I think that the movement towards President Bush that we saw in 2000 and 2004 would have continued even had Hillary been the Democrat nominee, but with Obama as the candidate it should give McCain a comfortable margin of victory. Overall, I think that Senator McCain will carry PA by a 53%-46% margin unless something changes between now and November.
If John McCain carries OH, PA and MI, Obama would be able to get to 270 EVs only if he (i) holds all of the remaining Kerry states (including NH, WI, MN, NJ and OR), which would be very difficult for him, and (ii) carries each of FL, NV, NM, IA, CO and either VA or MO, which is not going to happen. I think John McCain will defeat Obama with over 300 electoral votes unless he picks a liberal runningmate and screws up royally the rest of the way.