With just under a week to go before Election Day, the Romney campaign has a case of the blues - the electoral kind.
Yesterday brought the news that the campaign was wading into Pennsylvania, traditionally safe Democratic territory, with a flight of televised campaign ads set to begin today.
According to a source tracking television ad buys in the battleground states, the Romney campaign has already reserved nearly $600,000 worth of air time in the Philadelphia media market, and the GOP campaign's move comes close on the heels of the news that the Obama campaign is also going on the air in the Keystone State. The initial size of the Obama ad buy is $650,000 on broadcast and cable in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas from Oct. 31 through Nov. 6. http://abcn.ws/SaowZ4
And it's not just Pennsylvania. Late last week, both campaigns took to the airwaves in another typically blue state - Minnesota - and now there are signs of movement in Michigan too. ABC News recently changed Pennsylvania and Minnesota's rating from "safe" to "lean" Democratic. Michigan remains in solid Obama territory.
It is possible that both campaigns' investments will grow before next Tuesday. And Romney's buy is bolstering the effort of several GOP outside groups, including the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, which announced a multi-million advertising blitz in many of these states.
So, why are the Romney campaign and Republican outside groups moving into blue territory like Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan?
Here are some theories:
OHIO IS A LOST CAUSE? If so Romney needs need another path to 270 Electoral Votes. Despite the plethora of media polls showing Obama ahead in the Buckeye State (including today's Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News Swing State poll showing the president ahead of Romney there, 50 percent to 45 percent) Republicans not affiliated with the Romney campaign say they have polling showing a dead heat or Romney slightly ahead. In that vein, we are left to wonder whether his decision to run a blatantly false ad in Toledo regarding Jeep moving production to China is a Hail Mary pass or a way to try and tip this very tight contest?
BETTER BANG FOR THE BUCK: Campaigns and the outside groups have lots of money to spend and not a lot of places to spend it. Not only is it prohibitively expensive to try to buy last-minute ad time in places like Ohio and Virginia, there simply may not be any ad time to buy. TV stations have to make ad time available to campaigns, but not to outside groups. Moreover, the TV stations aren't required to provide the most highly desired times (like prime time or morning time). If an outside group wants to get the biggest bang for its buck, its states like Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan where they'll get it.
MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF DEMOGRAPHICS: What do Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan all have in common?
Vote in 2008:
National: 74 percent white
Pennsylvania: 81 percent white;
Minnesota: 90 percent white
Michigan = 82 percent white
The latest ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll, shows Romney getting 57 percent of the white vote, including 60 percent of white men
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MO': The Romney campaign may be trying to keep the momentum story line going, even though the momentum is gone. As our ABC News-Washington Post tracking polls have shown, whatever momentum Romney had last week has stalled. So, what better way to keep the "momentum" storyline going than to show a campaign confident enough to expand the map.
THE SPIN: The Obama campaign regularly ran television ads in Pennsylvania during the spring and summer, before curtailing their spending there - until now. "We're going to take every precaution," Obama strategist David Axelrod said on Monday. "We're not going to surrender any state to them in terms of the airwaves." A Romney aide characterized the campaign's attempt to turn Pennsylvania and Minnesota (both of which voted for Obama four years ago) into red states as an "effort to get to 300 not just 270 electoral votes." "We've ensured that we have every dollar we need going toward staff, voter contact, get-out-the-vote, advertising and digital outreach. We've bought all the TV that can be bought," the aide said in an interview with ABC News. "We've done everything that we can do, and now we're expanding the map into areas that the president shouldn't even be thinking twice about." But an Obama campaign aide disagreed with that framing. "They are doing this because they don't have a path to 270, currently," this aide said. "They're not going to win Ohio, they're down in Virginia. So they need to expand the map, otherwise they're in trouble."
THE BIG QUESTION: If Romney is serious about turning these blue states red, will he spend any time in Pennsylvania, Minnesota or Michigan before Election Day? A Romney aide tells The Note: "Stay tuned."
Keep an eye on ABC News.com for our next ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll at 5p.m. today: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/polls/
The Note's virtual political roundtable:
ABC's RICK KLEIN: The question of the now-resuming campaign is simple, yet maddeningly complex: Is the expanding battleground map evidence of Mitt Romney's strength, or his weakness? The latter is the argument being made by Team Obama, which sees Romney pushing into Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and now Michigan as evidence that the traditional battlegrounds aren't tipping the GOP's way. So Obama responses, with campaign ads plus visits by Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, are aimed at cutting off new paths. The reverse argument is that there are more states on the board, and they're all hues of deep blues and dark purples. Even if the new three don't go Romney's way, their competitiveness bodes well for him in nearby Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Surely the Obama campaign wouldn't be wasting money or visits in states it wasn't at least slightly worried about. It's still Obama's map, as it's been from the start. But it's growing the way Romney always probably needed it to. Romney may be tossing Hail Marys, but they're all on the Obama side on the field.
FROM A FRIEND OF THE NOTE: A source familiar with ad buying trends writes in regarding the Romney campaign's new investments in states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota: "I would be more interested if Romney were ever leading in Ohio. Instead this new spending feels very much like, "What do we do when we're down in Ohio and haven't been able to move numbers?" I would not be surprised, with new Romney or GOP group spending in states like Oregon, New Mexico or New Jersey, if it weren't all about press coverage for them at this point."
EARLY VOTING MOVES ALONG DESPITE SANDY'S WRATH. ABC Political Director Amy Walter notes: While Sandy has forced a number of jurisdictions in states like Virginia and Maryland to curtail early voting , plenty of voters outside of Sandy's path continue to cast ballots before November 6. A week out from Election Day and about 6.5 million people in five battleground states have already voted. On average, anywhere from a quarter to 40 percent of the votes that were cast in these states in 2008 have already come in. Below is a breakdown of the early vote totals in the battlegrounds where it's an option.
In Colorado, close to 1 million residents have already cast their ballots - or about 37 percent of the total cast in 2008.
2008: 63% of total vote was cast early.
In Nevada's largest county, Clark County (Las Vegas), more than 335,000 voters have voted, or about 53 percent of the total number who voted in 2008.
497,000 have voted here, which is about 32% of the total 2008 vote.
2008: 36% of the total votes were cast early
Over 1.2 million have cast ballots, which is 22 percent of the 2008 total.
2008: 30% of total votes were cast early
More than 2.2M votes cast, which is 29% of the 2008 total
2008: 57% of total votes were cast early
Nearly 1.7M votes cast so far. Which is 40% of total 2008 vote.
2008: 56% of the total votes were cast early.
with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
HAPPENING TODAY: OBAMA WILL VIEW HURRICANE DAMAGE IN NEW JERSEY WITH CHRIS CHRISTIE. President Obama will travel to New Jersey on Wednesday to view the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy on the state. Scheduled to appear with Governor Chris Christie, Obama has suspended personal appearances at campaign events to respond to the storm reports ABC's Matt Larotonda. Speaking at the Red Cross headquarters in Washington Tuesday, Obama said his thoughts and prayers were with those who lost loved ones in the devastating hurricane, which has claimed at least ten lives in New York City alone. http://abcn.ws/Sv8XOf
ELECTION DAY UNLIKELY TO BE POSTPONED BECAUSE OF SANDY. ABC's Lauren Pearle and Ariane DeVogue report, superstorm Sandy has given rise to suspensions in campaigning by both President Obama and GOP contender Mitt Romney, but could it actually delay Election Day? In theory, yes, but in all likelihood, no. The Constitution leaves the "times, places and manner" of holding a federal election up to each state, but says that Congress may at any time make or alter such regulations. Election Day, which is set by Congress, for all federal offices is the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. To push that back, Congress would have to act, which at this late date seems highly unlikely. Or states could implement emergency procedures that could postpone Election Day, but that could be challenged by Congress or face federal Equal Protection challenges in the courts. http://abcn.ws/UfsqA6
SPINNERS & WINNERS: THE BRAT PAC. In the latest episode of his ABC News/Yahoo! Power Players series "Spinners & Winners ABC's Jon Karl interviewed a unique political donor. When 22 year old John Ramsey's grandfather died, leaving him with a generous inheritance, Ramsey used that money to start a Super PAC. That inheritance made the 22 year-old Ramsey one of the youngest Super PAC financiers in the world. Ramsey, who supported Ron Paul's presidential campaign, joined forces with 23 year-old Preston Bates to found the 'Liberty For All' Super PAC. Their goal is to elect so-called "freedom candidates" - like minded people who support limiting government and promoting civil liberties, although they bristle at being labeled libertarians. Liberty for All, which some have taken to calling the 'Brat PAC,' has already contributed over $3 million dollars to national congressional races since it began seven months ago. WATCH HERE: http://yhoo.it/V8Ezwf
BIDEN PRAISES STORM RELIEF EFFORT, SAYS IT'LL TAKE 'HERCULEAN EFFORT.' On a day when the Democratic ticket held no campaign events due to Hurricane Sandy, Vice President Joe Biden lauded the storm relief efforts across the country and said it's going to take a "Herculean effort" to deal with flooding and restore electricity to areas that lost power reports ABC's Arlette Saenz. "The key is, as cold as it's here, it's cold as hell some of these places where people don't have any energy, don't have any electricity, and it's going to take a Herculean effort," Biden told reporters on the tarmac before taking off for Columbus on Tuesday. http://abcn.ws/SvvSJo
PAUL RYAN BALANCES STORM RELIEF WITH POLITICS. Paul Ryan cancelled three events in the battleground state of Colorado on Tuesday to thank volunteers in his home state of Wisconsin who were distributing goods for people affected by superstorm Sandy. But, ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports, that doesn't mean the campaign disappeared. At his first stop Tuesday, just hours after Sandy slammed into the Eastern seaboard leaving billions of dollars in destruction and at least 50 people dead, according to the Associated Press, Ryan thanked volunteers who were waving Romney/Ryan signs and gathering canned goods, water and other non-perishable items to be driven to New Jersey. http://abcn.ws/PkaEi0
NOTED: CAN RYAN KEEP WISCONSIN OUT OF ENEMY HANDS? President Barack Obama held a respectable lead in Wisconsin for months, before Mitt Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate and winning the state became a real possibility for Republicans reports ABC's Abby Phillip. The "Ryan effect," along with Wisconsin's dramatic shift toward the Republican Party in the 2010 midterm election, has made it possible for Obama to lose a state he won by a near-landslide 14 points in 2008. A week before the presidential election, the race is still tight, with several polls giving Obama only a slight edge where he once had a sizable lead. ABC News rates Wisconsin as a "toss up." http://abcn.ws/RqeWRf
THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS (OR BEGINS): Mitt Romney will hold his final campaign rally in New Hampshire next Monday night - the state in which he launched his bid for the White House sixteen months ago, ABC's Emily Friedman notes. The "Victory Rally" will be held at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester on the eve of Election Day. Kid Rock will be the special guest. The Granite State was the place where Romney launched his presidential bid in June 2011 at a picturesque farm house. It was where he chose to re-launch his campaign after it became clear he would become the nominee earlier this year. And the lakeside town of Wolfeboro, located in northern New Hampshire, became a retreat for the candidate throughout the campaign. http://abcn.ws/TVOm8G
GLITCH DELAYS DELIVERY OF THOUSANDS OF OHIO VOTER REGISTRATION RECORDS. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Joe Guillen reports: "A small fraction of Ohio voters' absentee ballot requests may have been mistakenly rejected due to a recently discovered glitch in the transfer of change-of-address records. Even though the deadline for voters to register or change their address was three weeks ago, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted just this week sent about 33,000 updated registration records to local elections officials. The local boards had to immediately process the records to ensure those voters could properly cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 election. An unknown number of absentee ballot applications across the state have been rejected due to the delay because election officials did not have some voters' current addresses." http://bit.ly/TSTx3s
MCCAIN BLASTS OBAMA ON BENGHAZI AT 'STORM RELIEF' RALLY. ABC's Greg Krieg reports, after nearly 48 hours of squall stall, Sen. John McCain has kicked the presidential campaign back into gear, ripping the Obama administration's response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi during a brief speech this afternoon at a "storm relief and volunteer appreciation" event in central Ohio. "The president is either engaged in a massive cover-up deceiving the American people or he is so grossly incompetent that he is not qualified to be the commander-in-chief of our armed forces," McCain told a gathering of Romney supporters. http://abcn.ws/Tm05qD
ROMNEY'S OHIO FATE TIED TO 47 PERCENTERS ALONG APPALACHIANS. Bloomberg's Tim Jones reports: "In the battleground state of Ohio, the Appalachian foothills stretching from the state's southern tip to the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania is the land Romney described as the "47 percent," a region of high dependence on government assistance - jobless pay, food stamps, and aid to the poor… For Romney, southeastern Ohio presents the political flip side of Obama's challenge to turn out young and minority voters in urban areas. While Ohio mirrors the nation in some major racial and demographic categories and is a presidential bellwether, the counties near the river are 90-plus percent white and the percentage of residents older than 65 is above the state average. Voters here decisively endorsed the candidacies of Republican nominees John McCain and George W. Bush in the previous three elections." http://bloom.bg/Q5efSa
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-MOVE ON LAUNCHES NEW VOTER TURNOUT INITIATIVE. A source with MoveOn.org Civic Action tells The Note that the group is announcing today "that it has upped its voter turnout game with an innovative new concept - the Vote Score - that it expects will result in hundreds of thousands of additional progressive votes this year. Over the next few days, 12 million potential voters in key states and in key districts will learn their Vote Scores when they receive Voter Report Cards in the mail. Each Voter Report Card tells the recipient how often he or she has voted in the past five elections, and also how that record stacks up against the neighborhood average. MoveOn will also run provocative online ads to call attention to the Vote Score concept and to challenge potential voters to improve their scores. The MoveOn ad campaign will be viewed tens of millions of times by progressive potential voters in presidential swing states prior to Election Day.
- SCOTT BROWN RELEASES FINAL AD OF 2012 CAMPAIGN: "PEOPLE OVER PARTY." Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown releases the final ad of his campaign today in the hotly contested Massachusetts Senate race. The ad, titled "People Over Party" will run through Election day and emphasizes Brown's stance as an "independent voice"- a message his campaign has honed throughout the course of the race. "Every day I hold this office, I will give all that is in me to serve you well and make you proud" Brown says in the ad. "I've kept my promise to be an independent voice. I put people ahead of politics, and now I need your help to keep that independent tradition alive in Massachusetts." http://bit.ly/PlfNGo
@billmaher : Looking forward to James Bond movie; Obama's like him cuz he's cool, has license to kill; and Mitt's like him cuz he's been 6 different guys