Washington (CNN) - It's no surprise, but the four cities named by the Democratic National Committee as finalists to host the party's 2012 convention have something common - they're located in states that should be very competitive in the next race for the White House.
Charlotte – Barack Obama narrowly defeated Sen. John McCain in North Carolina two years ago, becoming the first Democrat to win the state in a presidential election since 1976. The most recent non-partisan polling, conducted in April, indicated that Obama's approval rating as president stood at 47 percent among North Carolina voters. Fifteen electoral votes were up for grabs in North Carolina in 2008.
Cleveland – Ohio is one of the most crucial states in the race for the White House. George W. Bush's 51-49 percent victory in the state over Sen. John Kerry put him over the top and secured his re-election in 2004. Four years later Obama won Ohio by five points over McCain. The president's most recent approval rating in the state, which was hard hit by recession, stands at 45 percent, according to a survey conducted last week. Twenty electoral votes were up for grabs in Ohio in 2008.
Minneapolis – The last Republican to win Minnesota in a presidential contest was Richard Nixon in 1972. Vice President Al Gore narrowly captured the state in the 2000 contest and Kerry edged out Bush in 2004. Obama had an easier time in 2008, taking the state by 10 points, even though the GOP held their convention in St. Paul. Taking the state again in 2012 may not be such a breeze for Obama. There is no recent non-partisan polling in Minnesota. Ten electoral votes were up for grabs in the state in 2008.
St. Louis – Missouri gave up its status as a bellwether state in 2008, as McCain narrowly won the state by less than 4,000 votes. There is no recent non-partisan polling in Missouri. Eleven electoral votes were up for grabs in Missouri in 2008.