I've posted on this topic before, but winning out West will matter tremendously to the victor in this campaign. The Midwest (Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania especially) tend to hog the limelight. The South, too, holds a special place in election politics with its racial history and large African American populations. But, the West, libertarian and distant, matters just as much.
Team Obama is building on the foundations set by Colorado's Senator Salazar and Governor Ritter. Those two, and Montana Gov. Schweitzer are finding ways for Democrats to win in areas previously entirely devoid of Democrats. While Senator Obama won't win every state in the West, or even half of those states, his campaign continues to invest heavily in the region.
In a race as tight as this one should be, investing in the West is smart business. not have to devote resources. Second, picking Palin doesn't necessarily help McCain in the West. True, Colorado has plenty of evangelicals who will be smitten by her story. But, in states such as Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, and New Mexico, you are just as likely to find social libertarians (as in, "We don't care what people do in the privacy of their own homes, the government should stay out of it.") People with those attitudes will not go for Palin in the large numbers that McCain expects.