This morning there are a number of fresh polls that seem to suggest Mitt Romney has succeeded in expanding the electoral map. Via Drudge, we see that a new poll puts Romney slightly ahead in Michigan. But beware: this poll is from Foster McCollum White Baydoun, the same outfit that has shown the race essentially tied in prior surveys. That doesn’t mean they are wrong, it just means that today’s poll isn’t necessarily a sign of a Romney surge in Michigan. I personally don’t think Michigan is realistically in play.
On the other hand, yesterday’s Susquehanna poll that finds Pennsylvania tied 47-47 must be sending chills down David Axelrod’s spine. Pennsylvania absolutely is in doubt, and the Democrats are scrambling belatedly to give that state the attention it deserves. Pennsylvania is a state where the NRA’s late entry into the race could be important.
Then we have Minnesota. An American Future Fund poll which was shared with the press has Romney leading by one in Minnesota, 46-45. I believe this is the same polling firm that conservative groups have been using in Minnesota throughout this election cycle. Their prior polls have shown Minnesota to be much closer than generally believed; they had Obama ahead by only one point around six weeks ago. So the current survey shows a mild swing in Romney’s favor.
That said, I do think there is a chance that Romney could carry Minnesota. The Democrats think so, too. Bill Clinton will be in St. Cloud today, ostensibly campaigning against Michele Bachmann. But the Democrats wouldn’t waste Clinton on trying beat Michele; she is too good a retail politician and her district is too conservative. Clinton’s real mission, I suspect, is to fire up Minnesota Democrats whose spirits are flagging due to Obama’s uninspiring campaign. I assume Clinton’s event will be held in a high school gymnasium, the Obama campaign’s usual venue these days. Paul Ryan, meanwhile, will be in Minnesota later this afternoon, conducting a rally in an airplane hangar. The odds are still against Romney in Minnesota, but it wouldn’t shock me if he pulls off the upset.
So, are new states really being put into play? Perhaps. A lot depends, I think, on how the last undecided voters flop. If Dick Morris’s oft-repeated theory is correct, and late deciders generally break against the incumbent, then states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota could very possibly end up in the red column. (More likely Pennsylvania.) One could argue that if that happens, the states that the candidates have been battling over all along, like Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, will also go to Romney, and we can all go to bed early on Tuesday night. That could well be correct. On the other hand, it is possible that there are more truly undecided voters in the states that haven’t seen a lot of campaign activity, and if so, Romney might have a unique opportunity to break through in a state like Minnesota or Pennsylvania.