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October 29, 2012

Are Pennsylvania and Minnesota Really In Play?

Why yes. Yes they are.

ABCNews has moved both from "Safe Democrat" to "Lean Democrat."

Romney may have an advantage here if he makes a genuine late play:

Romney has a substantial lead among white men. Minnesota is one of the least diverse states in the country with 90 percent of the electorate in 2008 made of white voters. In other Midwestern states with small minority populations, like Iowa and Wisconsin, the Obama campaign has flooded the airwaves for months with anti-Romney ads. They have done nothing of the sort in Minnesota.

Those ads -- constant, relentless negative attacks on Mitt Romney for a full season -- are cited as a reason why Romney underpolls in Ohio, as compared to his standing in national polls. But the electorate in Minnesota (and maybe Pennsylvania) isn't as poisoned.

The campaigns are suddenly playing in these states, too.

As the presidential race narrows in Minnesota, former President Bill Clinton is planning to visit here this week to shore up support for President Barack Obama.


The sudden attention comes as both campaigns have started buying advertising time in Minnesota, which had been lacking until last week.

There are only two reasons Bill Clinton would visit Minnesota, and because I know he's a faithful husband who would never cheat on his wife, I know it must be because he's worried about the state falling to Romney.

Obama's narrowly ahead in Minnesota, a poll says, but narrowly, and his actual level of support is only 47%. So it seems that a majority of people are at least open to the idea of voting for Romney.

The battlefield is changing in Romney's favor. We aren't talking much about Virginia and Florida any more; we're talking about Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and, now, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and of course Wisconsin.

Part of the sudden interest in the other states of the midwest is Ohio's persistent state as a nailbiter and toss-up. That, I guess, is something Obama can take satisfaction in.

But Romney isn't just taking wild stabs and no-hope states. Polls show these states as actually in play.

There are no McCain states, and no Bush states besides Ohio, that are welcoming to Obama.

This seems to confirm that the trend, as we move into the last week (last week -- can you believe it?), is in Romney's direction.

If Obama were actually winning this thing, we should expect some sudden happy surprises for Obama. Say, North Carolina suddenly leaning to him in most polls. Or Missouri (in years past, a bellwether) showing him ahead.

But that's not happening. The dominoes are falling in one direction.

The first storm-front is the expanding campaign battleground. I've long noted that which states become competitive towards the end of the race can tell you a lot about the state of the campaign. In 2008, when "red" states like Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina and Montana suddenly became competitive, it was a clear sign that Obama had a huge momentum advantage. This year, however, it is "blue" states becoming competitive. In the final week, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota are emerging as new battleground states. If Romney's position is improving in states like these, its a good sign that he slated to win states like Florida, Colorado, Virginia and Ohio.

Why Romney Should Pour Money Into Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin: Given the relative lack of political ads in these states, ads could really actually do something. I don't know if ads can change any minds in Ohio anymore. At some point, people are just sick of them, and their feelings have hardened into positions.

I gotta think there is more upside in these relatively-virginal states. More bang for the buck. More actual chance of persuasion.

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posted by Ace at 07:35 PM

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