The unemployment rate in Rhode Island is 11.2 percent, but that doesn’t matter to either campaign because that blue state is a reliable win for President Obama.

The same goes for Oklahoma, where the unemployment rate is 5 percent – that red state will probably fall into Mitt Romney’s column regardless.

Because the United States still holds elections under the arcane rules of the electoral college,  only a handful of states will determine who the next president is. And in those states, the state of the economy is much more important, politically of course, than in the old party standard bearers.

The good news for Obama is that five key swing states have unemployment rates that are below the national average, which is  8.2 percent as of last week. New Hampshire is at 5 percent; Iowa is at 5.1 percent; Virginia is at 5.6; Ohio is 7.4; and Colorado, 7.9.

Three swing states, however, have unemployment rates higher than the national average: Florida, with 8.7 percent; North Carolina, with 9.4 percent; and Nevada, with 11.7 percent, the highest in the country.

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