By JACK COLWELL SOUTH BEND - Yes, he can win  Indiana. The possibility grows. But it’s not yet a probability. And what difference would it make in the Electoral College, where the presidency is decided? Polls show Barack Obama has a chance to win Indiana, a state that hasn’t gone for the Democratic nominee for president since 1964. Will he? Every poll also shows that Obama’s support is strongest _ overwhelmingly so _ among registered voters aged 18-29. Registered, yes, in record numbers. But will young people, who traditionally have low voter participation, actually get to the polls with the enthusiastic surge that Obama needs? If they do, Obama could win Indiana and win big nationally. If they don’t, John McCain will win Indiana and could put together the key states for a come-from-behind victory. There are of course other factors. One is the oft-cited Bradley effect, named after Tom Bradley, the African American who led significantly in polls but then lost for governor of California in 1982. The theory was born that a potentially decisive number of white voters will say _ to pollsters and perhaps to themselves _ that they will vote for a black candidate but then won’t do so in the voting booth. Another could be called the Bush effect. That’s the theory that some people leaning toward McCain will decide finally that they cannot support a presidential candidate with the same political brand as President Bush. Indiana is in play this presidential election because Obama targeted it. Obama has made frequent campaign appearances in Indiana, including on Thursday, the one stop he added before flying to Hawaii to see his gravely ill grandmother. [caption id="attachment_2102" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Barack Obama just prior to addressing 35,000 at the American Legion Mall in Indianapolis last week. (HPI Photo by A. Walker Shaw)"]Barack Obama just prior to addressing 35,000 at the American Legion Mall in Indianapolis last week. (HPI Photo by A. Walker Shaw)[/caption] He has established campaign headquarters all over the state and has spent heavily on TV advertising in Indiana. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Obama campaign, seeking to reach voters in northwest Indiana, spent $1 million on Chicago television stations by mid-October and expects to spend another $1 million on pricy Chicago air time by election day. McCain basically has taken Indiana for granted, the way Republican presidential nominees have been able to do, devoting time and resources instead to states like Ohio and Florida, the recent decisive battlegrounds. At first there was suspicion that Obama was just pretending to target Indiana instead of writing it off as hopeless, as other Democratic presidential nominees have done. Was he just trying to sucker McCain into wasting some of the Republican nominee’s more limited resources in Indiana? McCain wasn’t suckered. It’s not that McCain doesn’t care about Hoosiers. He wants and needs their votes. But he had no choice. If he can’t count on states like Indiana, he isn’t going to be president. Obama was serious about an all-out effort in Indiana. In addition to the overwhelming advantage in the air, with all those TV ads, he seeks to win on the ground as well, with a get-out-the-vote effort to deprive Republicans of the advantage they had in the last two presidential elections. So, will Indiana matter? It will to McCain. He must win almost all of the states now listed as toss-ups in computer sites such as RealClearPolitics to order to reach the magic 270 electoral total for victory. Indiana is listed as a toss-up. It will to Obama. If he wins a state like Indiana, it likely will be part of a large, impressive victory nationwide, not some narrow win finally eked out in recounts and controversy. There could even be the unlikely situation of Indiana as the state on which the presidency rests as counting continues into early morning hours. On the RealClearPolitics electoral map, it’s possible to change states from one candidate to the other to test various scenarios. If McCain won Florida and Ohio, came back to win states only just leaning toward Obama and _ with Indiana still undecided _ got all of the other toss-up states, the electoral totals would be: McCain, 268; Obama, 259. McCain only two electoral votes short. Obama only 11 away. And Indiana’s 11 electoral votes still undecided. What a change that would be for a state that for decades didn’t matter, written off as hopeless by one side, taken for granted by the other. Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.