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The Swing Counties, and How They Swung

· SUFFOLK CITY: About 80,000 people live in Suffolk, which is in southeastern Virginia on the North Carolina border. The city, which covers 430 square miles, is home to the state's peanut industry, but it is also experiencing rapid suburban growth as people move in from nearby Virginia Beach and Norfolk. African Americans, who traditionally vote Democratic, are 41 percent of the population. Gore carried it narrowly in 2000, but Bush won it with 52 percent of the vote in 2004. The next year, Kaine won it by 10 percentage points; in 2006, Webb won it by 171 votes.

Result: Obama won Suffolk by 3,641 votes. Obama received 54 percent vs. McCain's 45 percent.

· VIRGINIA BEACH: With its conservative reputation, Virginia Beach would not have been, in the minds of Democrats, up for grabs in a presidential election, at least not a few years ago. Home to the ministries of religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and large numbers of military voters, Virginia Beach went solidly for Bush in 2000 and 2004. But Kaine narrowly won it in 2005, and Democrats picked up two House of Delegates seats there last year.

Result: McCain won Virginia Beach by 1,462 votes. McCain received 50 percent to Obama's 49 percent.

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