President Barack Obama has begun his re-election campaign defending traditionally Republican territory that he carried when he won the White House four years ago. Republican Mitt Romney is looking to reclaim any combination of these GOP strongholds now in flux. In the months leading to the Nov. 6 election, both men will talk about how they will galvanize the nation. But in reality, they will lavish travel, advertising and staff on only a dozen states, and even fewer as the vote nears. The political spotlight will shine brightly again on Florida, and the Upper Midwest, especially Ohio. But changes in the nation's demographics will mean heavy attention paid to the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest. If the election were held in April 2012, Obama would safely carry 14 states, mainly the East and West Coasts, and the District of Columbia, with a total of 186 electoral votes. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, probably would prevail in 20 states, primarily in the South and West, worth 156. It's a chess game aimed at reaching the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

Road to 270

It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. Following is a state by state glance at the latest AP analysis for the 2012 presidential election.

Florida
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

>> Up for grabs.

In Florida, unemployment tops 9 percent, tourism is slow to recover, gas prices are high and trouble persists in the housing market; all that works against Obama.

But his team is aggressively organizing in the state, and his visit last week was his 16th since taking office, more than almost any other swing state.

(President Barack Obama is greeted by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., center, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn as he arrives at Tampa International Airport on Air Force One, Friday, April 13, 2012, in Tampa, Fla.)

Ohio
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

>> Up for grabs.

Ohio, too, is a jump-ball. In 2010, Republicans roared back. The manufacturing economy, especially its automotive parts sector in northern Ohio, continues to struggle, although unemployment has dropped below the national average.

(President Barack Obama greets people on the tarmac upon his arrival at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Wednesday, April 18, 2012.)

North Carolina
AP Photo/New Bern Sun Journal, Byron Holland

>> Up for grabs.

Republicans see North Carolina and Virginia as Romney's best chance to pick up an Obama-carried state.

Younger, Democratic-leaning professionals have flocked to North Carolina's Research Triangle and the northern Virginia suburbs around the nation's capital. Both states also have large minority populations; those groups voted in record numbers for Obama in 2008.

(A crowd listens to speakers at a gathering of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association held in New Bern, N.C., Monday, April 16, 2012. Local conservative candidates spoke at the rally, along with local Tea Party members.)

Virginia
AP Photo/Steve Helber, File

>> Up for grabs.

Republicans see Virginia and North Carolina as Romney's best chance to pick up an Obama-carried state.

Unemployment has remained at nearly 10 percent. Virginia Republicans have been emboldened by Gov. Bob McDonnell, who in 2010 ended consecutive Democratic administrations. But the states' conservative complexion has changed.

(FILE - In this March 10, 2012 file photo, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell talks at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. Days into his new role as presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney has initiated a months-long search for a running mate, an effort to be guided as much by his methodical corporate-based approach as the shadows of Sarah Palin.)

New Hampshire
AP Photo/Jim Cole

>> Up for grabs.

Obama did win New Hampshire, which flipped from Bush to Kerry in 2004, and is considered a toss-up this year. It's Romney's backyard, where he won the January GOP primary and Republicans have roared back to power in recent years. Biden campaigned in the state recently.

(A bus from the presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney drives past the Exeter Town Hall prior to Vice President Joe Biden speaking, Thursday, April 12, 2012, in Exeter, N.H.)

Iowa
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

>> Up for grabs.

Iowa, a true swing state over the past three presidential elections, is special to Obama. His upset of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 caucuses set him on the path to the nomination, and he has kept the fires burning.

Romney waged competitive campaigns for the 2008 and 2012 caucuses, but has struggled to win devotion from conservatives. He has received the endorsement of Gov. Terry Branstad, an economic conservative and establishment GOP figure.

(Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad announces his decision to endorse front-runner Mitt Romney's bid for the Republican presidential nomination during a news conference, Tuesday, April 10, 2012, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.)

Colorado
AP Photo/The Pueblo Chieftain, Mike Sweeney

>> Up for grabs.

While convention hosts have been unreliable general election indicators, Obama was the first Democrat to carry Colorado since 1992 after accepting the nomination in Denver. Obama kept thousands of the volunteers he sent out for that convention to work through the election.

(U.S. Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo., addresses the Colorado Democratic convention while holding up an Etch-A-Sketch in Pueblo, Colo. on Saturday, April 14, 2012. Bennett was speaking about the presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney while holding the toy.)

Nevada
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File

>> Up for grabs.

Hispanic voters helped Obama win last time in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, and, according to polls, they prefer him over Romney. Romney described GOP primary rivals Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich as soft on illegal immigration, and has said he would veto legislation that would allow certain illegal residents to become U.S. citizens.

Romney expects to be competitive in Nevada, where a popular Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, endorsed Romney. Also, unemployment tops 12 percent in Nevada, the heart of the housing crisis.

(FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2012, file photo Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks to reporters on his campaign plane en route from Tampa, Fla. to Minnesota and Nevada.)

New Mexico
AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File

>> Up for grabs.

Hispanic voters helped Obama win last time in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, and, according to polls, they prefer him over Romney.

New Mexico has gone back and forth for the past three presidential cycles, and elected a Republican governor in 2010. But the boom in the Hispanic voting population is a challenge for Romney.

(FILE In this Jan. 17, 2012 file photo, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is seen in Santa Fe, N.M. Republicans considered to be up-and-comers are scrambling to make it known they have no interest in becoming Mitt Romney's running mate, taking themselves off the still-forming short list of would-be vice presidents.)

Arizona
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

>> Leaning Republican.

Obama campaign aides have sent signals they will contest Arizona, arguing the Hispanic voter trend favors them. However, they and Romney aides say that tipping point is years away and that it remains a safe Republican state.

(FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, left, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk following a Republican presidential debate in Mesa, Ariz. After a nasty Republican primary battle, he's got to somehow fire up the party's staunchest conservatives without alienating independent voters he'll need to defeat President Barack Obama in the fall.)

Missouri
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

>> Leaning Republican.

Missouri has been decided by slim margins in the past three elections, but carried by Republicans in all three.

"The Romney campaign is going to make sure we have the resources to compete in states where Democrats throw a head fake," Romney adviser Kevin Madden says. "And I'm saying Missouri is not being targeted by the Democrats."

(Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, accompanied by his wife Ann, prepares to speak at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis, Friday, April 13, 2012.)

Indiana
AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File

>> Leaning Republican.

Of the GOP states Obama picked off, only Indiana is viewed as uncompetitive in 2012. Obama was the first Democrat to carry Indiana since 1964, and he did so by a single percentage point.

(FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2012 file photo, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks with reporters in Washington. Daniels has endorsed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.)

Pennsylvania
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

>> Leaning Democratic.

Pennsylvania is viewed as competitive, but leans toward Obama's column. Democratic presidential candidates have carried it since at least the 1980s, and earlier.

Bush competed in Pennsylvania and Minnesota in 2000 and 2004, only to have them tip Democrat in the closing weeks. Today, registered Democrats in Pennsylvania outnumber Republicans by nearly 1 million. But a downturn in the economy, or Romney catching fire elsewhere in the nation's economic heartland could tip both Republican.

(President Barack Obama greets members of the military before boarding Air Force One at the 171st Air Refueling Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard Base in Coraopolis, Pa., Friday, June 24, 2011.)

Wisconsin
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

>> Leaning Democratic.

Wisconsin is viewed as competitive, but leans toward Obama's column. Democratic presidential candidates have carried it since at least the 1980s, and earlier.

In Wisconsin, conservatives are rallying around Gov. Scott Walker, who faces a June recall election after he signed legislation last year stripping public employee unions of most bargaining power. If Walker prevails, it could embolden Romney.

(In this April 13, 2012, photo Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis, Mo.)

Michigan
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

>> Leaning Democratic.

Michigan is competitive, but leans toward Obama's column. Democratic presidential candidates have carried it since at least the 1980s, and earlier.

Romney hopes his native Michigan status and family name — his father was governor in the 1960s — help, as does his business background, given that the state's jobless rate exceeds the national average. But his opposition to the federal auto industry bailout in 2008 may hurt him in the car capital.

(Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, talks to aides on his campaign bus between campaign stops in Monroe, Mich., and Farmington Hills, Mich., Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. Behind him is a campaign poster for his late father, George Romney, three term Governor for Michigan.)

Minnesota

>> Leaning Democratic.

Minnesota is viewed as competitive, but leans toward Obama's column. Democratic presidential candidates have carried them since at least the 1980s, and earlier.

Bush competed in Minnesota and Pennsylvania in 2000 and 2004, only to have them tip Democrat in the closing weeks. A downturn in the economy, or Romney catching fire elsewhere in the nation's economic heartland could tip both Republican.

(President Barack Obama is greeted upon his arrival at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport in St. Paul, Minn., Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011, prior to addressing the American Legion national convention in Minneapolis.)