Minnesota GOP: Obama Visits Mean State in Play

President Obama won Minnesota by double digits in 2008 and remains more popular there than in many other traditionally Democratic strongholds.

But state Republicans say his two visits to Minnesota in less than one month — including a speech today in Minneapolis — are a tacit acknowledgement of his vulnerabilities there in 2012.

This is “no simple scheduling coincidence,” said state GOP chairman Tony Sutton in a statement. “President Obama is very much aware that the Midwest in general and Minnesota specifically, is in play in 2012.”

Earlier this month, Obama kicked off his three-day, three-state bus tour in Cannon Falls, Minn., with a town hall meeting on the economy.

“Fortunately, Minnesotans understand that speechmaking doesn’t create jobs; sound economic policy does, and no amount of rhetoric can hide the fact that the president and the Democrats have no structural answer to the country’s economic problems ,” Sutton said.

The most recent Gallup poll shows Obama held an average 52 percent approval rating in Minnesota through the first half of 2011.

Most of the state’s registered voters identify as Democrat (44.7 percent) over Republican (39.3 percent), according to the most recent USA Today/Gallup poll.  But those numbers reflect a steady erosion of Democratic affiliation over the past few election cycles.

Top state Democrats say they are confident about Obama’s prospects in 2012, despite a resurgence of conservatism, noting state voters elected Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in 2010.  Dayton is expected to be a major surrogate for Obama in the presidential campaign.

“Look, voters in Minnesota embraced Dayton’s ‘tax the rich’ message last year; but they also elected a state legislature that wanted spending cuts,”a state DFL official said. “People want balance.”

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