WASHINGTON (AFP) - Just five weeks from the election day, Democrat Barack Obama is making ground in battleground states and slowly tilting the US political map in his direction, new polling data shows. But John McCain is strong in strategic states like Ohio and Pennsylvania that can offer a plausible path to the 270 electoral votes needed for the White House if combined with Republican bastions and a few swing states. New polls over the last week and electoral projections by news organisations suggest Obama may be accelerating as the financial meltdown bites.The latest electoral map by independent RealClearPolitics.com has 228 electoral votes solid or leaning towards Obama, with 163 leaning or solid for McCain, with 147 others a toss up. CNN's latest map awards 240 electoral votes to Obama and 200 to McCain with 98 up for grabs. But McCain appears to be running strong in Ohio (20 electoral votes), often the bellwether for presidential hopes, and is pressuring Obama in neighbouring Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes). And he seems to have thwarted Obama's hope to put up a fight in some solid Republican ground, as several states like Montana and North Dakota seem now headed solidly into his column. Battle is being waged as far northeast as New Hampshire (four electoral votes), in the industrial midwest, and Nevada (five votes) and Colorado in the west (nine votes). Obama campaign manager David Plouffe Saturday predicted the Democrat would get a boost in the limited number of key swing states, which can go Republican or Democratic by his showing in last Friday night's debate. "We like where we are in these battleground states," he said. "We think states like Virginia, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, to name a few, have really become stronger for us in the last couple of weeks." Many experts believe that the election, like it did in 2004, could come down to Ohio. "I think it will be the state of Ohio that obviously determines who the next president of the United States is," McCain said in the state Tuesday. "The last person succeeded in becoming president of the United States without the state of Ohio was Jack Kennedy and that has been a long time," he said, referring to the 1960 election. Ohio remains a statistical dead heat in a RealClearPolitics average, McCain leads by 1.2 percent, and Rasmussen polling has him also up one percent. But Obama was up by two points in a Marist poll. McCain is appealing to conservative Democrats not yet sold on Obama for either racial or political reasons. His running mate Sarah Palin could also help among cultural conservatives. In next-door Pennsylvania, McCain is also pressuring Obama. The Democrat leads by four percent in the RealClearPolitics average, but has gained ground in the last week. Michigan (17 electoral votes) is also key and it is hard to see how Obama can win the White House if he cedes this normally safe Democratic hold. The RealClearPolitics average has the Democrat up nearly seven points on an Obama spurt in the last two weeks, after the race came within a couple of points in August, before the economic crisis hit. Quinnipiac University last week had Obama up by 48 to 44 percent in the state. One of the most intriguing states is Florida (27 votes), which handed victory to President George W Bush in the disputed 2000 election. With a popular Republican governor, many analysts had also chalked Florida up to McCain, but he is now ahead only 1.6 percent in the RealClearPolitics average. But an NBC/Mason-Dixon poll last week had Obama up by two points, in a state that has been hit hard by the mortgage foreclosure crisis, suggesting resurgent economic fears may be helping the Democrat. Obama also leads in Colorado (nine electoral votes), according to Quinnipiac, 49-45 percent. The same firm had him up by two points in midwestern Minnesota (10 electoral votes), a classic swing state both parties are actively targeting. He led in Wisconsin (10 votes) by seven points in the Quinnipiac poll though his advantage has ebbed lately. "The Wall Street meltdown while these polls were in the field probably fed the public desire for change and seemed to benefit Senator Obama," said Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac University polling institute. In Virginia, normally a solid Republican state, Obama now leads by two points in the RealClearPolitics average.