How Well Do You Know Your Swing States?

With less than 30 days to go before Election Day, the race for the White House is heating up; both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are reloading their pistols for the final leg of the their blistering campaign with two crucial presidential debates yet to come.

The first presidential debate on Wednesday in Denver took on Super Bowl enthusiasm with more than 67 million people tuning in; nearly 15 million more than watched in 2004, while 10.3 million tweets in 90 minutes exploded across the Internet (a new record), adding even more intensity to what is shaping up to be one of the closest presidential clashes in U.S. history.

Of particular importance will be the attention paid to 11 key swing states (Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina, and Iowa) to see which candidate will be able to seize the majority of these to assure victory on November 6th.

In 2008, Mr. Obama carried 28 states, the District of Columbia, sweeping the Midwest, including winning three of the former Confederate states in the South (Virginia, North Carolina, Florida), and three of the eight states in the Rocky Mountains (Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico), which many believe laid the foundation for a ``blue wall'' of Democratic states which will ensure Democratic victories on the national stage for years to come.

President Obama was on the verge of pulling away in key battleground states more than a week ago, but since the debate on Wednesday, with Mr. Romney having bested his opponent (at least according to a majority of post-debate analysis and scorecards) has begun to make significant inroads in many key swing states, leaving Mr. Obama (according to multiple polls) locked in a dead heat. Many election observers, moreover, argue the election may tilt either way depending on the size of the voter turnout.

Mr. Obama won 69.5 million votes in 2008 (9.5 million more than John McCain), the largest vote in history for any candidate achieving 53.7 percent of the national popular vote, making it one of the most decisive presidential elections since Ronald Reagan's landslide of 1984, when he scooped up 49 of the 50 states. What's more, the number of voters in 2008 increased to 132 million (or 61.6 percent of eligible voters, a 1.5 increase from 2004), while voting participation rose by more than 10 percent in a dozen states, which has largely been attributed to early voting and absentee ballots. In 2008, more than 30 million ballots were cast before Election Day.

So as we inch closer and closer to Election Day and as the key swing states comes under closer scrutiny in the weeks ahead, I thought I would underscore some major features of these states, while providing a past presidential election statistical snapshot of the 11 battleground states which more than likely will determine the winner of the 2012 presidential election.

NOTE: According to Tom Nardone, associate commissioner for employment and unemployment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state unemployment rate estimates for September won't be released until October 19th. The most recent unemployment data for individual states, therefore, is August, 2012.

1.) Ohio (The Buckeye State)

• Capital: Columbus

• Origin of State Name: The name ``Ohio'' is derived from the Iroquois Indian world oheo, which means ``beautiful.

• Population: 11,544,951 (2011 Estimate)

• Counties: 88

Electoral Votes: 18

• Unemployment Rate: 7.2 percent (August, 2012)

• State Song: ``Beautiful Ohio''

• State Rock Song: ``Hang on Sloopy'' (Approved by the Ohio General Assembly in 1985, making Ohio the only state which has officially adopted a rock song).

• State Motto: With God All Things are Possible

• Ohio has been the native state of seven U.S. presidents; another, William Henry Harrison, the 9th president of the United States, while born in Charles City, a Virginia colony, settled in Ohio later in his life and always considered the Buckeye state his home.

• From 1869 through 1881, the White House was occupied by three Ohioans, all Republicans and all former Union Army generals.

• The two candidates for president in 1920 were both from Ohio; Senator Warren G. Harding, the Republican and former newspaper man against James M. Cox, the 46th and 48th governor of Ohio. Harding easily won the general election, winning 37 states and 60.3 percent of the vote.

• From 1856 through 1996, Ohioans for the most part voted for the Republican candidate in the presidential elections, the exceptions being Woodrow Wilson (twice), FDR (three times), Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (twice).

• In 2008, Barack Obama carried Ohio, winning 51.5 percent of the vote to 46.9 percent for John McCain, a departure from 2004, when George W. Bush won Ohio with 50.8 percent of the vote to John Kerry's 48.7 percent.

• Out of the last 16 presidential elections, Ohio voted for the winning Democratic candidate seven times, while voting for the winning Republican candidate nine times, dating back to 1948.

• The 2010 census counted more than 350,000 Ohioans of Hispanic descent; a 40 percent increase from the 2000 Census.

• 51.1 percent of the state's population is female. Around the state, 4.6 million women over the age of 16 are part of Ohio's workforce.

• Cincinnati is President Howard Taft's Birthplace.

• Point Pleasant (Clermont County) 25 miles southeast of Cincinnati is the birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant (Republican), the 18th president of the United States.

• Blooming Grove (Morrow County) is the birthplace of Warren G. Harding (Republican), the 29th president of the United States.

• Moreland Hills, a village in Cuyahoga County, is the birthplace of James A. Garfield (Republican), the 20th President of the United States.

• Niles (Trumbull County) is the birthplace of William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States.

• The City of Delaware (Delaware County), 30 miles north of Columbus, is the birthplace of Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican), the 19th President of the United States.

• North Bend, a village in Hamilton County, along the Ohio River, is the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison (Republican), the 23rd President of the United States.

• Benjamin Harrison (1888) was one of only four presidents in United States history to be elected to the presidency by the Electoral College though he lost the popular vote. The others were: John Quincy Adams, 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes, 1876, and George W. Bush, 2000.

Source: Ohio Secretary of State; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

2.) Florida (Sunshine State)

• Capital: Tallahassee

• Origin of State Name: Named in 1513 by Juan Ponce de Leon, who landed during Pascua Florida, the Easter festival of flowers.

• Entered Union: March 3, 1845 (27th State)

• Florida's Population: 19, 057, 542 (2011 estimate)

• Population Rank - 4th in U.S. behind California, Texas & New York

• 67 Counties

• State Motto: In God We Trust

• State Song: The Swanee River (``Old Folks at Home'')

Electoral Votes: 29

• Unemployment Rate: 8.8 percent (August, 2012)

• Beginning in the 1950's, many registered Democrats in Florida became ``presidential Republicans,'' throwing their support behind Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 and Richard M. Nixon in 1960.

• In the 1996 presidential election, Florida backed a Democrat (Bill Clinton) for the first time in 20 years.

• In the postwar period from 1948 through 2008, Florida supported the Democratic candidates only five times: 1948, 1964, 1976, 1996, and 2008.

• In the highly controversial 2000 presidential race, a mere 275 votes separated George Bush from his Democratic opponent Al Gore before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a hand recount of returns be stopped, giving Bush the necessary 25 electoral votes in the Sunshine state to secure the presidency.

• In 2008, Barack Obama won Florida with 51 percent of the vote to 48.2 percent for John McCain.

• Largest County - Palm Beach at 2,578 square miles

• Number of people who move to Florida each day - 1,000

• Number of golf courses - more than 1,250

• Number of Beaches - 663 miles

• Persons of Hispanic or Latino Origin, (2011 estimate): 22.9 percent (National Average: 16.7 percent)

Florida's Connection with U.S. Presidents:

• Andrew Jackson as army general seized La Florida from Spain in 1821 and was sworn in as Florida's first territorial governor in Plaza Ferdinand VII in Pensacola, an outdoor garden and park in the historic district of Pensacola, Florida. Jackson was the seventh president of the United States from 1829 through 1837.

• The Harry S. Truman Little White House located in Key West is the State of Florida's only presidential site. It was originally constructed in 1890 as housing for naval officers. Truman spent the most time there, logging 11 trips and more than 175 days. President John F. Kennedy hosted British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in the 1960s. William Howard Taft and Dwight Eisenhower also used the Little White House for relaxation much like other presidents used Camp David.

• In 1961, the United States Navy Seabees (construction battalions) constructed a secret bunker on Peanut Island, a five-minute helicopter ride from the former Kennedy estate near Palm Beach. It was an evacuation site for President Kennedy in the event of a nuclear attack during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Kennedy Bunker is now declassified and open to the public.

• In Clermont, west of Orlando, The Presidents Hall of Fame has a hands-on classroom where teachers and students can sit in a chair from the Oval Office or from Ford's Theater as well as peek inside a 60- by 20-foot replica of the White House.

• In Daytona Beach (Volusia County), Florence Harding, wife of President Warren Harding, childhood home is now a fine dining restaurant called The Cellar. Harding used the home (originally built in 1907 by his father-in-law) as a wintering spot for his family to escape Ohio's harsh weather.

• In Orlando, all 44 Presidents bring history to life at The Hall of Presidents, an attraction located in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort. The attraction is a multi-media stage show featuring Audio-Animatronic figures of all individual U.S. Presidents, including President Obama, delivering the Presidential Oath, and President Lincoln reciting the Gettysburg Address.

• In Tampa, the 2012 host city for the Republican National Convention welcomed then-Col. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders in 1898 at the Tampa Bay Hotel. The national historic landmark is now a museum on the University of Tampa campus filled with treasures.

Source: Truman Little White House,; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

3.) Colorado (Centennial State)

• Capital: Denver

• Entered Union: August 1, 1876 (38th state)

• Origin of State Name: From the Spanish word, Colorado, meaning red or reddish brown.

• State Song: Where Columbines Grow

• State Folk Dance: Square Dance

• State Motto: Nil sine numine (Nothing without providence)

• Colorado Population: 5,116,796 (2011 estimate)

• Unemployment Rate: 8.2 percent (August, 2012)

Electoral Votes: 9

• Between 1960 through 1990, Colorado was considered a solidly Republican red state.

• Between 1948 and 2008, the Democratic presidential candidate won Colorado only four times: 1948, 1964, 1992 and 2008.

• In 2008, Barack Obama won Colorado with 53.7 percent of the vote to John McCain's 44.7 percent.

• By July, 2009, Colorado's population exceeded five million for the first time in its history.

• Percent of white persons: 88.3 percent

• Percent of black persons: 4.3 percent

• Percent of persons of Hispanic or Latino origins: 20.9 percent

• Colorado ranked second in the number of citizens with a bachelor's degree

• Colorado was originally part of the Nebraska, Utah, Kansas, and New Mexico Territories. In 1859 a provisional territorial government was formed, called the Territory of Jefferson. In 1861 Congress created the Territory of Colorado.

• Colorado was the second state in the nation to extend suffrage to women in 1894 after Wyoming.

• In 1803, through the Louisiana Purchase, signed by President Thomas Jefferson, the United States acquired a vast area which included what is now most of eastern Colorado.

• On July 7, 1908 Denver municipal Auditorium, seating 12,500, was completed in time for the Democratic National Convention, when William Jennings Bryan was nominated the third time for President.

• In 1973, Eisenhower Tunnel is built beneath the Continental Divide sixty miles west of Denver, making it easier to reach the ski slopes of western Colorado.

Source: Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

4.) Nevada (Silver State), also known as the Sagebrush State, and Battle Born State

• Capital: Carson City

• Origin of State Name: Named for the Sierra Nevada mountain range, nevada, meaning ``snow-covered'' in Spanish.

• State Motto: "All for Our Country"

• State Song: ``Home Means Nevada''

• Population: 2,723,322 (2011 estimate)

• Unemployment Rate: 12.1 percent (August, 2012)

• Electoral Votes: 6

• Number of Counties: 16, plus one city-county (Carson City)

• Between 1948 through 2008, the Democratic candidate for president has won Nevada only five times: 1948, 1960, 1964, 1992, and 2008.

• In 2004, Nevada became classified as a "battleground state"; meaning that it was hard to predict which side of the presidential vote the Silver State would fall on.

• In 2008, Barack Obama won Nevada with 55.1 percent of the vote to 42.7 percent for John McCain.

• In 2008, John McCain won over white working class voters in Nevada by 11 points.

• Obama's convincing victory in the Silver State has been attributed to his strong support among minorities, specifically, 94 percent among blacks( representing 10 percent of voters, a one percent increase from 2004) and 76 percent among Hispanics, (16 percent of voters, a six-point increase from 2004). Among whites in Nevada, Obama lost males by 17 points, women by one point, while winning males overall by a four point margin and female voters overall by 21 points.

• In 1899, Charles Fey invented a slot machine called the Liberty Bell, which became the model for all slots.

• Author Mark Twain worked for the first newspaper in Nevada, the Territorial Enterprise.

• President Theodore Roosevelt visited Nevada in 1903.

• 87 percent of Nevada land is controlled by the Federal government.

• In 1914, Nevada women were granted voting rights by state election.

• Gambling was reinstated in the State in 1931

• Hoover Dam, near Las Vegas was completed in 1935

• Nevada is the seventh largest state in size.

• Nevada is the largest gold-producing state in the U.S. and third in the world behind South Africa and Australia.

• Nevada is the gambling and entertainment capital of the U.S.

• Nevada has over 200,000 slot machines, one for every 10 residents.

• Las Vegas has more hotel rooms than any other place on earth.

• On average, 150 couples are married each day in Las Vegas.

• According to Guy Rocha, Nevada State Archivist, the first sitting president to campaign in the Silver State seeking re-election was Herbert Hoover in 1932, when he stopped in Elko for a few hours on his way to California.

• A number of election laws throughout the older Statutes of Nevada, beginning in 1869, made the sale or provision of alcoholic beverages on Election Day illegal. The provision, NRS 293.605, was finally repealed in 1967.

• African-American men were prohibited from voting in Nevada until 1870, when the national constitution was amended.

• Mormon men were prohibited from voting in Nevada under a statute approved in 1887; until 1888, when the statute was declared unconstitutional by the Nevada Supreme Court. The statute was not officially repealed until 1909.

Source: Home Page of Senator Harry Reid; Political History of Nevada (Eleventh Edition) issued by Dean Heller, Secretary of State; Nevada Commission on Tourism; ``America's New Swing Region: Changing Politics and Demographics in the Mountain West'' by Ruy Teixeira; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

5.) Michigan (Wolverine State)

• Capital: Lansing, since 1847; prior to that, Detroit

• Number of counties: 83

• Entered Union: January 26, 1837 (26th)

• Origin of State Name: Thought to have been derived from the Fox Indian word mesikami, meaning ``large lake.''

• State Motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you).

• State Song: Michigan, My Michigan (unofficial)

Electoral Votes: 16

• Unemployment: 9.4 percent (August, 2012)

• Michigan had never cast a plurality of popular votes for a Democrat before the 1932 election.

• Between 1948 and 1992, the Republican candidate for president carried Michigan in nine out of 13 elections.

• The Democratic candidate for president has carried Michigan in the last five elections, dating back to 1992.

• Bill Clinton won Michigan with 44 percent of the vote in 1992 and 52 percent in 1996; Al Gore took Michigan with 51 percent of the vote in 2000; and John Kerry secured the Wolverine state with 51 percent of the vote in 2004 to George W. Bush's 48 percent.

• In 2008, Barack Obama carried Michigan effortlessly with 57.4 percent of the vote to John McCain's 41.0 percent.

• Gerald R. Ford, the 38th president of the United States, was the only U.S. president from Michigan.

• Mitt Romney was born at Harper Hospital in Detroit, Michigan on March 12, 1947

• Michigan is the 10th largest state in the Union (combined with land and water area).

• Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties alone account for more than 40 percent of the state's population.

• Michigan ranks 38th among the 50 states.

Key Dates in Michigan History:

• 1805: The Michigan Territory is created, with Detroit designated as the seat of government. William Hull is appointed governor. A devastating fire burned Detroit to the ground.

• 1819: The Treaty of Saginaw cedes nearly six million acres of Indian lands to Michigan settlers. Michigan sends a delegate to Congress.

• 1841: The University of Michigan moves from Detroit to Ann Arbor.

• 1854: The Republican Party is organized in Jackson.

• 1908: Henry Ford begins manufacturing the Model T.

• In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt ran as a member of the Bull Moose Party and won a majority of the Michigan popular vote. He ran as a Republican in 1904.

• 1941: Automobile plants are converted for the production of war materials, and Michigan becomes known as the "Arsenal of Democracy."

• 1959: Berry Gordy Jr. founds Motown Records in Detroit.

• 1980: The Republican National Convention is held in Detroit.

• 1981: The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum are dedicated in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, respectively.

• 1992: Michigan State University hosts the third and final presidential debate of the election year.

• 2002: Jennifer M. Granholm becomes Michigan's first female governor.

Source:; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

6.) New Hampshire (Granite State); also known as Mother of Rivers, White Mountain State, and the Switzerland of America.

• Capital: Concord

• Origin of State Name: Named for the English county of Hampshire.

• Population: 1,318,194 (2011 estimate)

• State Motto: ``Live Free or Die.'' The motto comes from a statement written by the Revolutionary General John Stark, hero of the Battle of Bennington.

• Entered Union: June 21, 1788 (9th)

• State Song: ``Old New Hampshire''

• State Sport: Skiing (adopted in 1998)

• Unemployment: 5.7 percent (August, 2012)

Electoral Votes: 4

• Franklin Pierce, the nation's 14th president, was the only chief executive to have come from New Hampshire.

• Between 1856 and 1932 New Hampshire voted Republican in every presidential election except in 1912 and 1916.

• For 40 years, between 1948 and 1988, a Democratic presidential candidate only won New Hampshire once: In 1964 when Lyndon Johnson swallowed up the state with 63.9 percent of the vote.

• In the last five presidential elections, beginning in 1992, the Democratic candidate for president has won New Hampshire four times. George W. Bush, in 2000, took New Hampshire with 48.1 percent of the vote to Al Gore's 46.8 percent.

• In 1992, Bill Clinton won New Hampshire by a one percent margin; by 1996 he won the Granite State by a commanding 10 percent margin; officially moving NH out of the ``safe GOP'' column and into the ``battleground state'' column.

• In 2008, Barack Obama convincingly carried New Hampshire 54 percent to 45 percent, sweeping all of the state's 10 counties.

• New Hampshire was one of the 13 original colonies.

• New Hampshire has 10 counties, 13 municipalities, 221 towns and 22 unincorporated places.

• New Hampshire is one of the six New England states, the others being Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

• New Hampshire has 1,300 lakes or ponds and about 40 rivers with a total mileage of about 41,800 miles.

• In 1863, President Lincoln established the first national Thanksgiving Day, inspired by letters from Sarah Josepha Hale of Newport, New Hampshire.

• In her pioneering work as editor of Ladies Magazine (1828-36) and Godey's Lady's Book (1837-77), Sarah Josepha Hale of Newport, New Hampshire, elevated the status of women and the importance of American literature.

• In March 1946, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey assigned Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe to the Nashua Dodgers, a new farm team, making Nashua, New Hampshire, the first modern city to host an integrated professional baseball team.

• On October 12, 1853, Amos Tuck called a meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire, of four political parties opposed to the Democratic Party and proposed the name Republican.

• Since 1920, the first ballot of the New Hampshire Presidential Primary has been cast in the Ballot Room of the Balsams Hotel in Dixville Notch.

• First Legal State Lottery in the U.S: In 1963, the New Hampshire Legislature approved the Sweepstakes Program. In 1964, Governor John W. King purchased the first lottery ticket at Rockingham Park, Salem, New Hampshire.

• First Women's Strike in the U.S.: In 1828, women mill workers at the Cocheco Mills, Dover, New Hampshire, went out on strike to protest new mill regulations, in what became known as the "Factory Girls" Strike.

• First American in Space: On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., of Derry, New Hampshire, rode a Mercury spacecraft aloft for 15 minutes, and reached a peak altitude of 115 miles.

• First Free Libraries in the Nation: The Dublin Juvenile Library, established in 1822, was the first free public library. The Peterborough Town Library, established in 1833, was the first library supported by public taxation.

Source: New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development; New Hampshire State Council on the Arts; ``The Change Election: Money, Mobilization, and Persuasion in the 2008 Federal Elections'' By David Magleby; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

7.) North Carolina (Tar Heel State); also known as the Old North State

• Capital: Raleigh (established 1792)

• Origin of State Name: Named in honor of King Charles I of England

• Population: 9,656,401 (2011 estimate)

• Entered Union: November 21, 1789 (12th)

• State Motto: Esse quam videri (To be rather than to seem)

• State Song: ``The Old North State," lyrics by William Gaston, music collected and arranged by Mrs. E. E. Randolph.

• Unemployment: 9.7 percent (August, 2012)

• Electoral Votes: 15

• U.S. Presidents from North Carolina: Andrew Jackson (7th), James K. Polk (11th), Andrew Johnson (17th).

• Democratic candidates for president won five consecutive elections in North Carolina between 1948 and 1964.

• Between 1968 and 2008, Democratic candidates for president only won the Tar Heel state twice: In 1976 and 2008.

• In 2004, George W, Bush carried North Carolina with over 56 percent of the vote.

• In 1996 and 2000, North Carolina was approximately seven percentage points more Republican than the nation. But since 2008, North Carolina has voted only three percentage points more Republican than the nation, moving the Tar Heel state into ``battleground state'' territory.

• In 2008, Barack Obama won North Carolina by the slimmest of margins, with 49.7 percent of the vote to John McCain's 49.4 percent.

• North Carolina's population has increased by 7.6 percent since 2004

• First state university in the United States - University of North Carolina opened in 1795 in Chapel Hill.

• First successful powered airplane flight - 1903 by the Wright Brothers, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk.

• North Carolina sent 130,000 to 135,000 Confederate troops into battle and had the highest death toll -- about 33,500 -- of any Southern state.

• Freedom Hill, an Edgecombe County colony established in 1865 by former slaves, became Princeville, the nation's first town incorporated by African-Americans.

• George Washington spent the night at a dozen North Carolina inns in addition to visiting homes on his tour of Southern battlefields in 1791.

• President James Monroe revived the idea of touring the country, and his 1819 Southern tour brought him to New Bern, a city that specializes in preserving and presenting its history.

• Andrew Johnson, our 17th U.S. president was born (1808) in downtown Raleigh in a kitchen at Casso's Inn, a busy establishment where both of his parents worked.

• Woodrow Wilson, our 28th U.S. president, was the son of a minister who was pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington from 1874 to 1885.

• Ten presidents have stayed at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville during in its 99-year history, including Barack Obama.

• According to Golf Digest, 15 of the last 18 U.S. presidents have hit the golf courses -- several have found their way to Pinehurst, America's original golf resort. Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush and Richard M. Nixon all teed-up on the famous greens.

• Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush all campaigned at the N.C. State Fair.

• President Harry S. Truman broke ground on Wake Forest University's Winston-Salem campus in 1951.

• President Richard M. Nixon graduated with a law degree from Duke in 1937.

• The Ashe County seat is named for Thomas Jefferson, as are the town of West Jefferson and Jefferson Mountain State Natural Area.

• Madison County and the town of Madison (in Rockingham County): Both are named for James Madison.

• Jackson County and the city of Jacksonville (the Onslow County seat): Both are named for Andrew Jackson.

• Lincoln and Lincolnton: The county and its seat, which are northwest of Charlotte, are named for Abraham Lincoln

Source: North Carolina Department of Commerce; ``The New Politics of the Old South'' by Charles S. Bullock, Mark J. Rozell; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

8.) Virginia (Old Dominion)

• Capital: Richmond (since 1780)

• Population: 8,096,604 (2011 estimate)

• Origin of State Name: Named for Queen Elizabeth I of England, the ``Virgin Queen''

• Entered Union: June 25, 1788 (10th).

• State Motto: Sic simper tyrannis (Thus ever to tyrants)

• State Song: ``Carry Me Back to Old Virginia'' was formally retired from use in 1997 but has not yet been replaced.

• State Slogan: Virginia is for Lovers, created in 1969 as the state's official tourism slogan, represents a love of life and a passion for travel

• Unemployment: 5.9 percent (August, 2012)

• Electoral Votes: 13

• Between 1948 and 2008, Democratic candidates for president only carried Virginia three times: 1948, 1964 and 2008.

• Beginning in 1952, Virginia voters began to shift their votes decisively toward Republicans.

• From 1968 through 2004, Virginia voters consistently voted Republican, except for 1964 when LBJ won the state with 53.5 percent of the vote.

• President Obama carried Virginia in 2008 by 6.3 percentage points (52.6 to 46.3 percent), 7.1 percentage points higher than John Kerry in 2004.

• Virginia cast 500,000 more votes in 2008 than they did four years earlier, a 16.3 point increase.

• Virginia does not permit voters to declare party allegiance.

• Virginia is known as the "Mother of Presidents" - having produced more American presidents than any other state at 8: George Washington (1st, 1789-1797), Thomas Jefferson (3rd, 1801-1809), James Madison (4th, 1809-1817), James Monroe (5th, 1817-1825), William Henry Harrison (9th, 1841), John Tyler (10th, 1841-1845), Zachary Taylor (12th, 1849-1850), and Woodrow Wilson (28th, 1913-1921).

• Virginia is one of four states known as a "Commonwealth.'' The others are Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Massachusetts.

• More Civil War battles were fought in Virginia than in any other state.

• Virginia is the site of the first major battle of the Civil War - First Manassas - and the surrender of Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.

Source:, Official Tourism Website of the Commonwealth of Virginia; ``Atlas of the 2008 Elections'' by Stanley D. Brunn; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

9.) Wisconsin (Badger State)

• Capital: Madison

• Origin of State Name: Thought to have been derived from the Ojibwa word wishkonsing, meaning ``place of the beaver.''

• Entered Union: May 29, 1848 (30th).

• Population, 5,711,767 (2011 estimate)

• State Motto: Forward

• State Song: ``On Wisconsin''

• State Beverage: Milk

• State Dance: Polka, reflecting the rich Czech-Polish and German heritage found throughout the state.

• Unemployment: 7.5 percent (August, 2012)

Electoral Votes: 10

• Between 1948 and 1984, voters in Wisconsin voted Republican seven times; while tilting toward the Democrat nominee three times: 1948, 1964, and 1976.

• In the 2000 presidential elections, 67 percent of the Wisconsin voting age population voted compared to 52 percent nationally.

• Wisconsin has not voted Republican since 1984, but in the last two presidential elections the state was among the closest races in the nation.

• Democrats won Wisconsin narrowly by 4,000 votes in 2000 and 12,000 votes in 2004. Obama won Wisconsin by 414,818 votes in 2008.

• Congressman Paul Ryan, running mate to Republican nominee Mitt Romney, was born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin, a city located in the southern part of the state.

• Wisconsin was the first state to mandate a presidential primary beginning in 1905.

• Green Bay, home of the Packers is known as "Titletown USA" and is additionally the state's oldest city.

• Nearly 21 million gallons of ice cream are consumed by Wisconsinites each year.

• Wisconsin was the first state in America to open a kindergarten

• Milwaukee is home of Harley Davidson Motorcycles.

• The Republican Party was founded in Ripon in 1854

• The Hamburger Hall of Fame is located in Seymour.

• The first Ringling Brothers Circus was staged in Baraboo in 1884.

• Monroe is the Swiss Cheese Capital of the World

Source:; Wisconsin Historical Society; Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

10.) Pennsylvania (Keystone State)

• Capital: Harrisburg

• Origin of State Name: Named for Admiral William Penn, father of the founder of Pennsylvania.

• Entered Union: December 12, 1787 (2nd).

• Population: 12,742,886 (2011 estimate)

• Counties: 67

• State Song: "Pennsylvania.'' The official state song of the Commonwealth was written and composed by Eddie Khoury and Ronnie Bonner and is the official song for all public purposes.

• State Motto: Virtue, Liberty and Independence

• State Slogan: State of Independence.

• State Dog: Great Dane

• State Beverage: Milk

• Unemployment: 8.1 percent (August, 2012)

Electoral Votes: 20

• James Buchanan, the 15th U.S. President, is the only president from Pennsylvania and the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor.

• Pennsylvania was a stronghold of the Republican Party from Abraham Lincoln (1860) through 1934.

• Between 1948 and 1960, Republican candidates for president won in Pennsylvania in three out of four elections; John Kennedy managed to defeat Richard Nixon in 1960 with 51.1 percent of the vote to Nixon's 48.7 percent.

• Not until November 1960 did Democratic voter registration surpass GOP registration for the first time in the 20th century.

• Beginning with John F. Kennedy's win over Richard Nixon in 1960, Pennsylvania became firmly attached to the Democratic Party.

• Between 1960 through 2008, the Democratic candidate nominee carried the Keystone State nine times with Republicans carrying the state only in 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988.

• The last Democratic candidate for president unable to carry Pennsylvania was Michael Dukakis in 1988.

• Barack Obama took Pennsylvania in 2008 by a commanding 54.7 percent of the vote to John McCain's 44.3 percent.

• The Democrats took control of the two major cities, Pittsburgh in 1933 and Philadelphia in 1951, and gained electoral majorities for the Democratic nominees in seven of the eleven presidential elections from 1936 to 1976.

• Pennsylvania is officially a Commonwealth, a word which comes from Old English and means the "common weal" or well-being of the public. In Pennsylvania, all legal processes are carried out in the name of the Commonwealth.

• Both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed in Philadelphia.

• Benjamin Franklin once served as speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

• By 1840 Pennsylvania was the home of more newspapers than any other state.

• The first all-motion-picture theater in the world was opened on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh on June 19, 1905, by John P. Harris and Harry Davis.

• The first commercial broadcast station in the world was KDKA in Pittsburgh, which started daily schedule broadcasting on November 2, 1920.

• The 2000 Census showed 9.97 percent of Pennsylvania's population to be African American, less than the national average of 12.3 percent. This included 45 percent of the population of Philadelphia County, 17 percent of Dauphin County, 14.5 percent of Delaware County, and 12.4 percent of Allegheny County.

• Pennsylvania's Hispanic or Latino population in 2000 was 3.2 percent of the state's total, far less than the Hispanic percentage for the nation, which was 12.5 percent.

• The first night football game was played in Mansfield, Pennsylvania on September 28, 1892 between Mansfield State Normal and Wyoming Seminary.

• Kathryn O'Hay Granahan was the first female member of Congress from Philadelphia and the Treasurer of the United States from 1962 to 1966.

• In 1946, scientists J. Presper Eckert Jr. and John W. Mauchly of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania produced the world's first electronic computer, the ENIAC, for the U.S. Army.

• Forest County has the distinction of being the only county in Pennsylvania without a traffic light.

• In December 1913, the first drive-in gasoline filling station in the world opened at the corner of Baum and St. Clair Streets in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

• Pennsylvania is the first state in the United States to place its URL on license plates.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development; Pennsylvania State Data Center; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: ``The Realignment of Pennsylvania Politics Since 1960'' by Renee M. Lamis; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

11.) Iowa (Hawkeye State)

• Capital City: Des Moines

• Origin: Named for Iowa Indians of the Siouan family

• Population: 3,062,309 ((2011 estimate)

• Number of counties: 99

• Entered Union: December 28, 1846 (29th)

• State Motto: Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain

• State Song: ``Song of Iowa''

• Rank among states: 30

• White alone: 91.3 percent

• Black or African American alone: 2.9 percent

• Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 5.2 percent

• Unemployment: 5.5 percent (August, 2012)

Electoral Votes: 6

• Iowa was the birthplace of Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, who was also the first U.S. president born west of the Mississippi.

• For nearly 70 years following the Civil War, the vast majority of Iowa voters supported the Republicans in state and national elections.

• From 1940 through 1984, Iowans voted Republican in 10 out of 12 presidential elections.

• Beginning in 1988, the Democratic candidate for president in Iowa has carried the state in five out of the last six elections. George W. Bush in 2004 narrowly won the Hawkeye state with 49.9 percent of the vote to John Kerry's 49.2 percent.

• In 2008, Barack Obama carried Iowa with 53.9 percent of the vote to John McCain's 44.4 percent.

• In addition to Herbert Hoover, Iowa was the birthplace of Vice President Henry A. Wallace (the 33rd Vice President of the United States under FDR, 1941-1945); First Lady Mamie Doud Eisenhower, and Carrie Chapman Catt, a suffragist leader whose efforts resulted in women's right to vote.

• Iowa was the first state created out of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

• John Brown, the radical abolitionist, spent the winters of 1857 and 1859 in the small Quaker village of Springdale, preparing for his raid on the federal armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, which led to his capture and eventual hanging.

• Iowa ranks first in beef, pork, corn, soybean and grain production.

• Iowa has 92,600 farms with an average size of 135 hectares

• The world's first electronic digital computer was built and operated by researchers at Iowa State University in the 1930's.

• Iowa students' ACT and SAT scores rank among the top five states.

• The high school graduation rate in Iowa is 88 percent; 17 percent above the national average.

• The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum located in West Branch, Iowa, next to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site includes Hoover's birthplace cottage and final resting place, a blacksmith shop, a one-room schoolhouse, and a replica of the Oval Office.

• Effigy Mounds National Monument is a group of prehistoric American Indian burial and ceremonial mounds located near Marquette in northeast Iowa.

• The estimated Latino population of Iowa as of July 1, 2011, is 158, 014, making people of Latino origin the state's largest race or ethnic minority. Latinos constitute 5.2 percent of the state's total population.

Source: Iowa Department of Economic Development; Iowa Tourism Office; Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States (7th edition); America Votes 29: Election Returns by State (Rhodes Cook, CQ Press).

Election Resources to Keep in Mind:

Federal Election Commission: Federal Elections 2008: Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives.

The American Presidency Project: Presidential Election Data

Roper Center (Public Opinion Archives): Presidential Elections

United States Election Project: Voter Turnout (Data compiled by Dr. Michael McDonald, Department of Public and International Affairs, George Mason University).

This post originally appeared at The Morning Delivery.