That was fast. Exit polling from last week’s Wisconsin recall election had already showed the state shifting from Obama’s column into toss-up territory, and now Rasmussen’s latest poll actually has Romney with a slight lead:
Mitt Romney now leads President Obama for the first time in Wisconsin where the president’s support has fallen to its lowest level to date.
The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Romney with 47 percent of the vote to Obama’s 44 percent. Five percent prefer some other candidate, and four percent are undecided.
That lead is still within the poll’s 4.5 percent margin of error, but it is the latest sign that Wisconsin — a must-win state for Obama — is in play for November.
At the National Journal, Josh Kraushaar paints a gloomy electoral picture for the Obama campaign if it loses the Rust Belt. The campaign’s focus on winning the Hispanic vote was designed with Florida and the southwest states in mind. But that strategy assumed that Obama would hold on to Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania:
For much of the presidential campaign, President Obama’s top strategists have outlined their numerous paths to 270 electoral votes: win Florida, sweep the Southwest, or pick off a Southern state or two. But they didn’t prepare for the possibility that working-class white voters in the Rust Belt could abandon the president en masse, throwing his well-laid plans into disarray.
With the economy struggling to pick up steam, three must-win “blue-wall” states are looking increasingly winnable for the Romney campaign: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Both election results (from the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall) and reputable polling show that all three states are shaping up to be highly competitive, and that both campaigns will be devoting significant resources there.
Now that the campaign will have to devote more resources to the Rust Belt, that limits the impact it can have in Florida and the southwest. The Obama campaign increasingly looks like the crew on a sinking boat, trying to patch one leak as two more spring up behind their backs.