Presidential Polls: As Electoral College Map Tightens, Obama Has to Play Defense in Blue States


The Romney campaign and its supporters are increasing efforts to defeat Obama in the upcoming election. While Romney is still focusing on battleground states such as Ohio and Florida, he is increasing his efforts in Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania as well. These three states provide a total of 46 electoral votes for the presidential election. The question is whether Romney is hedging a possible loss in Ohio with this strategy or is he putting Obama on the defensive.

The three states would not seem as likely supporters of a Republican nominee. The last time a Republican presidential nominee carried Michigan and Pennsylvania was in 1988. That election saw former President George H. W. Bush defeat former Governor Michael Dukakis, a Democrat from Massachusetts. Since then, the two states have supported Democratic nominees. The last time Minnesota supported a Republican for president was in 1972 when the state chose the sitting president, the late Richard Nixon, over the Democratic nominee the late Senator George McGovern (D-S.D.).

This election, however, is different. Recent polls show that Michigan and Pennsylvania are considered toss-ups and Minnesota is leaning towards Obama. The closest race is in Michigan where Romney has narrowed the gap between himself and the president who currently leads by 3 points. In Pennsylvania, many polls show Obama with a 4.6 point advantage. A different poll, however, states that Romney leads Obama by 4%. Polls in Minnesota show Obama leading by 5 points or by 3 points depending on the poll.

Other than the conflicting data concerning Pennsylvania, the Romney campaign has shown that it narrowed the gap with Obama in Michigan and Minnesota. The GOP and its supporters are now changing their tactics in these states. They plan on spending over $2 million in ads in Michigan to improve Romney’s chances of winning the state. Also, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) will be campaigning in Michigan for Romney. Additional money will be spent on ads in Pennsylvania and Minnesota to convince voters to support the Republican ticket.

The GOP is employing smarter tactics these last days before the election. First, they are reengaging in states that are moving towards Romney. Michigan and Minnesota have momentum and additional resources may build upon this. Pennsylvania’s polling data disparity may just be a slight glimmer of hope in a blue state. The GOP, however, still plans on spending money to see the results.

Second, these moves require the Obama campaign to play defense in these states. This means modifying existing strategy to slow Romney’s momentum. Money and stumping which could have been utilized in Ohio or Florida must now be redirected to other states. This may strain the Obama campaign’s finances during the last week before the election.

It remains to be seen if Romney can win in Michigan, Minnesota or Pennsylvania. If he does then the additional resources will have been well spent. It will also mean that David Axelrod will have to shave his moustache. His confidence obviously means that the Republicans are wasting their time.