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Romney’s Blue State Trap

Republicans should be happy about the latest polls coming out of Pennsylvania. Two of the three polls conducted there in the last few days show President Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney down to four points while another run by the Democratic-leading PPP firm has him up by seven points. This is quite a turnaround for a state where Obama has led by large margins for most of the year. The same might also be said for Michigan where Romney has narrowed a once large deficit in some recent polls. Both are important states the loss of which could be potentially fatal to the Democrats’ hopes of re-electing President Obama. But Romney would be well advised not to expend much effort trying to exploit this potential weakness in the president’s Electoral College lineup.

No Republican has won either state since the 1980s which means that if Obama is looking weak in places where he had double digit margins of victory in 2008 it stands to reason that it might be wise for his campaign to double down on their investment there so as to make the Democrats expend funds in areas that they thought were already in the bag. That would be a mistake. Though the president’s support in both states is far softer than anyone imagined a few months ago, converting them from blue to red would involve far more effort that the prize would justify and still fall short.

Despite the bad polling numbers, Obama still has overwhelming advantages in both Pennsylvania and Michigan. Unions and still potent Democratic organizations in cities like Philadelphia and Detroit have the ability to generate high turnouts that are likely to offset any losses in other parts of these states no matter how much Romney spends there. Were the Republicans to switch gears and divert resources there from other more winnable and arguably more crucial Electoral College targets it would materially lower Romney’s chances of victory.

The key to Republican victory remains those toss-ups where they have at worst an even chance of winning such as Florida, Virginia and Ohio. Pennsylvania is an inviting GOP target made even more tempting by poll results that illustrate Obama’s weakness. But the Romney campaign is wise to relegate it to a lower priority. Their good polling numbers are fool’s gold best ignored.


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