Of all the states where Romney and Obama declined to air advertisements, none stood out more than Wisconsin. In 2000 and 2004, Kerry and Gore won by only the narrowest margins, and it’s a state where Obama depends on the support of a near majority of the white working class voters who have proven skeptical of his performance. But even though Obama has suffered big losses in Wisconsin since 2008, he appears to have retained just enough support to keep the state leaning toward Obama.
Throughout the veepstakes, the conventional wisdom held that Romney would make a lower-case “c” conservative selection, like Portman or Pawlenty. This view aligned with the Romney camp’s espoused belief that they could coast to the White House, simply by riding an inevitable tide of undecided voters disaffected with the president’s performance. But Romney’s decision to select Paul Ryan is the pick you make if you’re behind, not if you’re ahead.
Good round of polls for Romney today, although there weren’t many and they were from firms that have tended to offer decent results for Romney so far this cycle. Iowa seems destined to be among the closest states in 2012. It leaned slightly to the left in 2004 and 2008, but it has a large white working class population which would tend to suggest that Obama should expect larger losses in Iowa than elsewhere.
The conventional wisdom has long held that Romney was disposed toward a lower-case “c” conservative vice-presidential selection, like Pawlenty or Portman: A candidate with indisputable credentials for the presidency, undoubted loyalty to Romney, and experience on the national stage. In other words, Romney wasn’t going to do anything interesting. While this was probably disappointing for the politicos, it made sense for the campaign's overall strategy.
Since Republicans tend to do better among likely voters than registered voters, many have speculated about whether Obama will still hold a lead once the polls start applying likely voter screens after the conventions. But while people are debating whether Romney will gain x or y percent, there's already a growing body of likely voter surveys which have been conducted at both the state and national level. And though Obama's advantage among likely voters is narrower than his larger edge among registered voters, there's not much question that Obama still leads.
Is Obama beginning to open up a bigger lead? The race has been static since Romney won the nomination, but recent polls suggest that Obama might be pulling further ahead. After recent polls from NBC/WSJ, Pew, Democracy Corps, and Reuters all gave Obama their best tallies since Romney won the nomination, Fox and CNN also showed Obama making big gains in new polls released this afternoon. The RCP average now gives Obama a 4.4 point lead, his largest lead since April.
The campaigns are pouring millions of dollars into North Carolina and the polls show a tight race, but Nate Silver doesn’t think that the state is worth the investment. While he is certainly right that North Carolina is unlikely to prove decisive, it’s easy to envision how the Tar Heel state could play a pivotal role in 2012.
Today I’m offering my first crack at a new feature on Electionate, where I offer a daily polling round-up and quick takes on matters that I wouldn’t write about otherwise. So what happened today? While two polls showed Obama ahead and above 48 percent of the vote in critical Virginia, the day’s big newsmaker is Romney’s 5-point advantage in Colorado.
Barack Obama has the advantage with 90 days to go until November 6, and the Romney campaign mostly has itself to blame. Four years after Obama’s decisive victory in 2008, a poor economy, dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, and mediocre approval ratings have conspired to endanger the president’s reelection chances. But a close race, which is what the polls show, is not the same as a dead heat.