Presidential candidates traditionally spend the last four days of an election hopscotching across the country making one last pitch to voters in the key battleground states. But, where each candidate decides to spend these precious 96 hours can also give us some insight into what they see as their strengths and weaknesses going into Election Day.
Obama and Biden are making 18 stops across seven states - Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Florida. Romney and Ryan, meanwhile, are making 24 stops across 10 states - New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Minnesota, Nevada, and Wisconsin.
The fact that Team Romney is making forays into Pennsylvania and Minnesota suggests that they are not particularly confident that they can get to 270 electoral votes if the playing field is restricted to the eight battleground states where this campaign has been waged for the last six months.
Moreover, if you take a look at the counties where each campaign is making a last-ditch pitch, Obama/Biden are focused more on swing counties and heavily Democratic areas, while Romney and Ryan are split between swing counties, heavily Republican areas, and counties that lean strongly Democratic but also border Republican-leaning suburban areas.
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Of the 18 stops that Obama and/or Biden will make, eight are in counties that went for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008. These are the swing counties like Arapahoe and Jefferson in Colorado, Hamilton in Ohio and Loudon in Virginia. The other ten stops are in traditionally solid Democratic areas where Team Obama needs strong base turnout, such as Fairfax County, Virginia which gave Obama 60 percent of the vote in 2008 and Dane County, Wisconsin which gave Obama a whopping 73 percent of the vote.
This tells us that Obama is focused on securing the gains they made in 2008 in key swing, suburban areas, but they are also concerned about pumping up the Democratic base.
Team Romney is targeting some of those same swing suburban areas as Team Obama, but they are also spending a lot of time in Democratic counties like Franklin and Cuyahoga in Ohio, Polk in Iowa and Milwaukee in Wisconsin. Another ten stops are in solid Republican territory like El Paso County, Colorado (Colorado Springs) and Bay County, Florida (Panama City).
Overall, the Romney/Ryan schedule suggests that they are more focused on wooing independent voters than simply firing up the base.
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