Saturday, September 8, 2012

Is Romney on the retreat?

The news that Mitt Romney and the Republicans are pulling their TV ads out of Pennsylvania and Michigan was not that surprising.  However, the report that they are also withdrawing from Wisconsin was more of  a shock.

Romney has consistently polled poorly in Pennsylvania although Obama is still below 50 percent when you average out recent surveys.  Romney does better in Michigan polls, at least on the surface.  However, voting results in both Pennsylvania and Michigan depend a lot on what happens in the urban areas. 

The Philadelphia and Detroit metro regions in PA and MI respectively can dramatically alter outcomes in favor of Obama if there is good turnout in these areas.  Most experts believe that the Obama team will be able to rally supporters in these cities although maybe not to the extent they did in 2008. Additionally, Romney is vulnerable to an attack on his auto industry position in Michigan.

Wisconsin though is a different cookie.  Given that this recent ad decision came on the heels of the Republican National Convention, it makes one think that there were some benchmarks that they did not meet. Possibly, these were in relation to the expected convention "bounce."

Meta-analysis of past polling data, internal polling and reports from the field may have also had an influence on their decision to go on the defensive.  Republicans and their super-PACs will concentrate their resources instead in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

That really limits their potential paths to victory in the presidential race.  What is obvious here is that if the other swing states go to Obama, the Republicans will need to win Florida to prevent an Obama victory.  Even winning Ohio and the other six states will not get them to the required 270 electoral votes if they lose Florida.

What, if anything, should the Obama campaign do in response to the latest GOP moves?

They could decide to take the Republicans head on in Florida since that's a must win state for them.  However, that could end up sucking up a lot of money.  Florida is the most expensive swing state and it is also one of the toughest for Obama according to the polls.

Another strategy would be to concentrate in states that offer more of an opening for Obama.  For example, if Obama could win Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado and Virginia, that would give him 279 electoral votes so long as there are no surprises in other states.  Obama is polling best in those four states out of the eight that the Republicans are currently fighting in.

While they should maintain their current efforts in the other four states, they could pull some, but no all, of their resources from states like Pennsylvania and Michigan and redirect them into those battlefields. 

With two months remaining, we should continue to see both campaigns make significant strategic moves to adjust to a constantly changing electoral environment.


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