As regular readers know, I have had quite a bit of fun with the shrillness and dishonesty of the Democrats’ many fundraising emails. Today, however, I got one from Joe Biden that is worth noting for a different reason. Biden writes:
If we win this election, it will be because of what you did in moments like this to help close the spending gap.
Because this is real: Just last week alone, Mitt Romney’s campaign and his allies outspent our side by at least three to one in North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, all states we need to win.
That could swing the election — but it doesn’t have to.
Forget for the moment whether the Romney campaign really outspent Obama anywhere last week. That would be great if true, but I think any actual outspending will begin today, when Romney can belatedly start spending the money he has accumulated for the general election (as opposed to the primary campaign). What I want to point out is the list of states that Biden describes as crucial, which includes not only Pennsylvania and Michigan–surely a state that the Democrats didn’t expect to have to worry about in 2012–but also Minnesota.
Could Minnesota really be in play? I seriously doubt that Romney can carry such a blue redoubt, but private polling done by a conservative group a month or two ago showed Obama leading in Minnesota by only five points, a close enough margin to cause money to start flowing into the state on Romney’s behalf. A week or so ago, the same polling firm found Obama leading in Minnesota by only one point. It appears from Biden’s email that the Democrats’ polling is showing something similar.
Strange as it might seem for a state as traditionally Democratic as Minnesota to be so close, there is a possible demographic explanation: given his awful performance in office, President Obama is heavily dependent on overwhelming support from African-Americans, which he continues to receive, at least in polls. Among white voters, Romney leads Obama by something like 16 or 17 percent, a remarkable margin. Minnesota (like Wisconsin and Iowa, but to a greater degree) is a traditionally liberal state, but one with a very small minority population. Could it be that Obama is being deserted by swing voters and moderate Democrats in such numbers that without a massive advantage among minority voters, he might not even carry a state like Minnesota? That is the conclusion that Biden’s email suggests.