In 2000, it was Florida. In 2004, it was Ohio. In 2008, it was Virginia.
But in 2012, the state that means the difference between victory and defeat could be on the other side of the country: Colorado, the Rodney Dangerfield of the battleground states.
It gets no respect—at least not the respect it deserves. As one of two Western states still considered toss-ups (Nevada being the other), Colorado could be the key to the president's path to 270.
According to the most recent presidential ad spending numbers, $76 million has been spent in Colorado thus far, a fair amount but placing it well behind fellow swing states of Ohio ($177 million), Florida ($174 million), and Virginia ($136 million).
Yet, Colorado could ultimately turn out to be more important than any of them.
Consider this scenario: if President Obama wins Colorado, as well as Nevada, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Iowa, he could lose the big three (FLOHVA as we’ve been affectionately calling them at The Daily Rundown) and still get to 270. By the same token, if Mitt Romney wins Colorado, the president has to recover the state's nine electoral votes by winning at least one of the Florida-Ohio-Virginia trio.