Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is Obama in Trouble in Minnesota?

Update - 10/25: Mitt Romney has purchased TV ads in Minnesota. Recent polls suggest a very close race there, but Romney may be trying to force President Obama to divert resources to this assumed to be safe state. Romney may as well be seeking the positive coverage such an ad buy would generate as it shows him playing offense on traditionally Democratic turf. We'll know better on November 6th...

Update II - 10/26: The Obama campaign has now started running TV ads as well. Minnesota is in play.

There were whispers that team Obama sensed some danger in Minnesota - a state most have considered to be a safe Obama state. Then came word that the campaign was sending Jill Biden to the state. If the campaign was not concerned they wouldn't be sending anyone. They can't risk sending Obama or Joe Biden because that would make the campaign's Minnesota worries front page news. I was hesitant to accept the Minnesota news, but then I received the following e-mail from my colleague and co-author Steve Schier, the H. and Edward C. Congdon Professor of Political Science at Carleton College in Minnesota. Schier is an expert on Minnesota politics:
"Here is a link to a memo from GOP pollster Glen Bolger revealing a new poll indicating Obama ahead by only 47-43 in Minnesota. A competitive race?

The two most recent SurveyUSA polls of the sixth and eighth Congressional districts provide supportive evidence for Bolger's poll result. In the eighth, a D +3 district, Romney led in the Survey USA poll 47-45. Romney led by 17 points -- 53-36 -- in the sixth district, which has a partisan index of R +7.

Add to that the fact the a major surrogate, Jill Biden, will campaign in the Twin Cities and Duluth next week.

If Minnesota is competitive, Obama is in trouble."
Make no mistake, if Minnesota is in play then Obama has already lost the election. It's now clear that the Romney debate bounce was more than just a bounce. It has remained and translated to crucial swing states. Romney is surging in Florida and Virginia and appears to be ahead in Colorado, New Hampshire, and perhaps Nevada. In Ohio, Romney has eliminated Obama's once considerable lead and now the race is a statistical tie. Even Pennsylvania has become competitive.

The Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls have the race at 49%-47% - advantage Romney. At present, the 2012 race is starting to look like 2004 with Romney as Bush and Obama as Kerry. Assuming 2/3 of the undecideds break for the challenger (common in an election featuring an incumbent) the 49-47 race would end up 51-48 - just as in 2008. In a race that close Romney would win, but receive 300 electoral votes or less. He'd likely lose Minnesota and Pennsylvania - but both would be close.

Beyond what's happening in Minnesota, one need only look at Obama's average in the national polls. Obama is averaging 46% - that's deadly for an incumbent. Obama needs to be polling above 47% to have a chance at re-election.