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Tags: Swing States

A Quick List of 50 Key Counties to Watch Tonight



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The Election Day edition of the Morning Jolt offers a list of 50 counties I’ll be watching tonight — in some cases, counties that have proven to be historical bellwethers of the national vote, and in others, counties that are useful measuring sticks for each candidate’s support. I’ve included the vote in 2008, both percentage and vote totals.

 

6 p.m. Eastern

INDIANA

Vigo County, Indiana (county seat: Terre Haute (pronounced ‘Terra – Hote’) perfect since 1956, and from 1960 to 2004, Vigo County had been within 3 percent of the national presidential vote every election. In 2008, Vigo County again voted with the winner, but Obama’s percentage of 57.3% was about 4.4% above Obama’s national vote.

Bush won this county with a 6.4 percentage point margin over John Kerry (52.8 percent to 46.4 percent)

Voter registration down from 76,000 to 74,000.

7 p.m. Eastern

VIRGINIA –

Prince William County (MAJOR BELLWETHER)

2004: Bush 53–47     2008: Obama 58-42

Obama 93,386 to McCain 67,589

Population: 402,002    Largest community: Dale City

Henrico County

Obama 56-44

Obama 86,262  to McCain 67,340

Loudoun County

Obama 54-46

Obama 74,607 to McCain 63,328

Winchester (independent city, not part of any county, small but useful)

Obama 52-47

Obama 5,268 to McCain 4,725

7:30 p.m. Eastern

NORTH CAROLINA

Forsyth (Winston-Salem)

2008: Obama 55-44

90,712 to 73,304

Pitt County (Greenville)

2008: Obama 54-46

39,763 to 33,429

Wake (Raleigh)

2008: Obama 57 to 43

247,914 to 183,291

 

OHIO

(Note that anyone on line at a polling place in Ohio at 7:30 will be permitted to cast a ballot.)

Cuyahoga (Cleveland):

2004: Kerry 448,503 vs. Bush 221,600 (+226,903);

2008: Obama 458,422 vs. McCain 199,880 (+258,542) (69-30)

Franklin (Columbus):

2004: Kerry 285,801 vs. Bush 237,253 (+48,548);

2008: Obama 334,709 vs. McCain 218,486 (+116,223) (59-40)

Hamilton (Cincinnati):

2004: Bush 222,616 vs. Kerry 199,679 (+22,937); Bush 52.5 – 47

2008: Obama 225,213 vs. McCain 195,530 (+29,683) Obama 52-47

Lucas (Toledo):

2004 Kerry 132,715 vs. Bush 87,160 (+45,555);

2008: Obama 142,852 vs. McCain 73,706 (+69,146) (65-34)

Wood County, Ohio (Bowling Green):

One miss since 1964 (in 1976).

Obama 32,956 vs. McCain 28,819 (52-46)

Tuscarawas County, Ohio (New Philadelphia):

Has voted for the winning candidate since 1972.

Obama 20,957  vs. McCain 19,940, 50-48

8 p.m. Eastern

FLORIDA (entire state finishes voting at this hour)

Volusia County “In 2008, Mr. Obama carried Volusia by five percentage points. Both sides are girding for a closer battle this year.”

Pinellas County (major bellwether)

2004: Bush 49.6 – 49.5           2008: Obama 54 – 45

Population: 916,542    Largest city: St. Petersburg

Hillsborough County (major bellwether)

2004: Bush 53 – 46     2008: Obama 53 – 46

Population: 1,229,226 Largest city: Tampa

MAINE (Second Congressional District)

Piscataquis County (least populated, but lone McCain county of 2008)

McCain 51-47

4,785 to 4,430

Washington County (carried by Bush in 2004)

Obama 50-49

8,241 to 8,070

Penobscot County (Bangor)

Obama 52-46

42,975 to 37,523

 

MASSACHUSETTS

For those watching the Scott Brown-Martha Coakley race, Suffolk identified three bellwhether towns: Gardner, Fitchburg, and Peabody.

Back in January 2010, Scott Brown led all three by a wide margin.

 

MISSOURI

Jefferson County – for McCaskill/Akin race; winner of this county almost always wins statewide.

2006

Claire McCaskill 53, Jim Talent 47

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Hillsborough County (key bellwether)

2004: Bush 51 – 48     2008: Obama 51 – 48

Population: 400,721    Largest city: Manchester


PENNSYLVANIA

Chester County (key bellwether, western suburbs of Philly)

2004: Bush 52 – 47.5  2008: Obama 54 – 45

Population: 498,886    Largest city: West Chester

Bucks County (Philly Suburbs, north)

Obama 54-45

178,345 to 149,860

Delaware County (immediately southwest of Philly city)

Obama 60-38

170,949 to 109,766

Montgomery County (northwest of Philly)

Obama 60-39

249,493 to 163,030

Monroe County (Stroudsburg, fast-growing, north of Philly along NJ border)

Obama 58-41

36,655 to 25,892

Allegheny County (Pittsburgh)

Obama 57-42

368,453 to 269,819

Westmoreland County (Pittsburgh suburbs)

McCain 58-42

96,786 to 69,004

In all of the Philadelphia suburb counties, watch for drop-offs from 2008 because of casual voters being more focused upon Hurricane Sandy cleanup.

TEXAS

Believe it or not, Texas has a bellwether county: Bexar County,  which includes San Antonio, has voted for the winning presidential candidate  since 1972, and only one miss since 1928.

 
9 p.m. Eastern

COLORADO

Jefferson County (key bellwether)

2004: Bush 52 – 47     2008: Obama 54 – 45

Population: 534,543    Largest city: Lakewood

155,020 to 129,291    

Arapahoe County (key bellwether)

2004: Bush 51 – 48     2008: Obama 56 – 43

Population: 572,003    Largest city: Aurora

128,366 to 100,409

Larimer County

Obama 54-44

84,461 to 68,932

Ouray County (small but useful)

Obama 53-45

1,629 to 1,360

Huerfano County (small but useful)

Obama 55-43

1,989 to 1,582

Alamosa County (small but useful)

Obama 56-42

3,521 to 2,635

 

MICHIGAN (Central Time Zone counties finish voting)

Macomb County (Detroit suburbs)

Obama 53-46

223,754 to 187,645

Oakland County (Detroit suburbs)

Obama 57-42

372,694 to 276,881

 

MINNESOTA

Anoka County (Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs)

McCain 50-48

91,357 to 86,977

 

NEW MEXICO

Hidalgo County (county seat: Lordsburg) has voted for the winner in every presidential race since 1928 (except 1968). Keep in mind this county is tiny (just 4,894 according to the 2010 census), and the Romney campaign hasn’t really made a push in this state.

Obama 50.9 percent to 48 percent

990 to 934

 

NEW YORK

Chautauqua County (county seat: Mayville; largest city: Jamestown) — perfect since 1980; two misses (1960 and 1976) since 1952. This county is the state’s southwestern corner.

Obama 49 percent to 49 percent

26,936 to 26,593

 

WISCONSIN

Brown County

Obama 54-45

67,241 to 55,827

Kenosha County (Ryan’s home county)

Obama 59-40

45,615 to 31,237

Racine County

Obama 53-46

53,405 to 45,941

Waukesha County

McCain 62-37

145,089  to 85,248

 

10 p.m. Eastern

IOWA

Scott County

Obama 57-42

48,675 to 36,239

Woodbury County BattlegroundWatch describes it “in the heart of Iowa’s red west, but unlike Pottawattamie to the south, it’s an outpost of urban Democrats.”

McCain 50-49

20,798 to 20,290

Warren County

Obama 50-49

12,261 to 12,112

 

NEVADA

Democrats run up almost all their statewide margin in just two counties – of course, they’re the two counties that include the cities of Reno and Las Vegas. To have a shot, Romney has to cut into their margins here (mostly focusing on the suburbs) and run up the score as much as he can in the sparsely populated rural counties everywhere else.

Clark County (Las Vegas)

Obama 58-40

379,204 to 256,401

Washoe County (Reno)

Obama 55-43

99,365 to 76,743

 

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Swing States

Barring Some Sudden Change, Romney Will Win the Popular Vote



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Barring some dramatic change in the final ten days or so, Mitt Romney will win the popular vote in the 2012 presidential election.

In the 22 national head-to-head polls with Romney conducted in the month of October, Obama has hit 50 percent once, 49 percent four times, 48 percent three times, 47 percent eight times, 46 percent once, and 45 percent five times. (He hasn’t hit 48 percent in a national poll since October 20.) Mind you, in most of these polls Obama has trailed narrowly, with Romney at 48 to 50 percent, and in a few, he’s led Romney, with the GOP challenger at 45 percent or so. But the polling this month points to a strikingly consistent percentage of support for an incumbent president.

Not only is Obama’s percentage in the RealClearPolitics average 47 percent, he’s at 47 percent in four tracking polls: Rasmussen, ABC News/Washington Post, Gallup, and IBD/TIPP. It is not merely significant that Obama is likely at 47 percent at this moment, it’s that he’s been around 47 percent for most of the month — with debates, new attack-ad barrages on both sides, etc. He’s around 47 percent in polls with many remaining undecideds and few remaining undecideds.

We can debate whether those remaining undecideds, ranging from 3 to 8 percent in most of these polls, will break heavily for the challenger. In 2004, George W. Bush and John Kerry split the remaining undecideds roughly evenly. But the one scenario that political scientists deem virtually impossible is one where undecideds who have declined to support the incumbent all year suddenly break heavily in favor of him. For most of the remaining undecideds, the choice is between voting for the challenger and staying home.

The polling currently suggests President Obama has a hard ceiling of about 47 percent, perhaps 48 percent. Let’s take the 50–47 split found currently in the Rasmussen, Washington Post, and Gallup tracking polls. Presume that most of the remaining undecideds stay home, and that the vote for third-party candidates amounts to about a percentage point. Under that scenario, we would see a 51 percent to 47.9 percent popular-vote win for Romney.

There are two other little-discussed indicators pointing to a Romney popular-vote win — the GOP challenger’s level of support in the uncontested blue states and in the uncontested red states.

There are a bunch of heavily populated states in the Northeast and on the West Coast that remain frustratingly uncompetitive for Republicans. But last cycle, the bottom really fell out for the GOP, due to several factors: the Obama campaign’s serious financial advantages, enormous grassroots enthusiasm among Democrats, the John McCain–Sarah Palin ticket’s lack of appeal to these regions, and of course, the economic meltdown. The bad news for Republicans is that the Romney–Ryan ticket is unlikely to put any of these in play. The good news is that Romney appears likely to dramatically overperform the low bar of McCain’s level from 2008, owing to GOP grassroots enthusiasm even in uncompetitive states.

In New Jersey on Election Day 2008, Obama won 57 percent to 42 percent for McCain. Five polls have been conducted in the Garden State in October, and Obama’s support is at 54 percent, 53 percent, 48 percent, 51 percent and 51 percent. None of the polls have Obama ahead by less than 7 points, but it seems a safe bet that Romney will finish better in this state than McCain did.

In California last cycle, Obama won 61 percent to 37 percent. Three polls conducted in this state in October put Obama’s level of support at 53 percent. Again, no one doubts Obama will win; his smallest lead is 12 points. But again, Obama is very likely to come out of the Golden State with a smaller margin of victory, probably hundreds of thousands of votes fewer than in 2008.

In Connecticut, Obama won in 2012 by 61 percent to 38 percent. In this state, there’s been quite a bit of polling because of the state’s surprisingly competitive Senate race between Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy. Obama’s level of support, measured by percentage, has been 52, 55, 53, 49, 51, 53.

In the red states it’s a different story. In state after state, Romney is polling higher than McCain’s percentage in the final vote, or Obama is polling significantly lower than his percentage in the final tally of 2008, or both.

John McCain won North Dakota in 2008 by a 53 percent to 45 percent margin. In the three polls in this state in October, Romney’s lowest level of support has been 54 percent and Obama’s highest level of support has been 40 percent.

In 2008, John McCain won Arkansas 59 percent to 39 percent. Obama’s highest level in any poll conducted in Arkansas this year is 35 percent and he was at 31 percent in mid-October.

Obama failed to win a single county in Oklahoma in 2008, losing to McCain, 34 percent to 66 percent. Only two polls have been conducted in Oklahoma this year, but both had Obama below 30 percent.

Indiana was Obama’s most unexpected victory in 2008, winning 50 percent to 49 percent. Polling has been sparse much of this year, but the two polls conducted this fall put Romney up by 12 and 13 percentage points.

Add up these factors — a consistent national polling lead for Romney, a seemingly hard ceiling of 47–48 percent for Obama support in these national polls, a narrower margin of victory for Obama in blue states and a wider margin of victory in red states — and you have an electoral map where the red states of 2008 turn crimson and the blue states are at least a bit more purple.

Now, as Al Gore will tell you, a popular-vote win and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. But it’s also relatively rare for a candidate to win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College. And if Obama is running a few percentage points behind his 2008 levels of support in red states and blue states . . . just how much can advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts stem that tide in the purple states?

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Polling , Swing States

RNC: Check Out Our Early Votes in Swing States!



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Republican National Committee Political Director Rick Wiley sends along this summary of early-voting and absentee ballot voting efforts in swing states.

I have two very minor quibbles with the bright portrait he paints. First, in a bunch of swing states, Obama won by considerable margins – 120,000 votes in Nevada; 130,000 votes in Virginia; 150,000 votes in Iowa; 240,000 votes in Florida; 400,000 votes in Wisconsin, 600,000 votes in Pennsylvania. So Romney doesn’t have to do merely better than McCain did in 2008, he has to do considerably better; secondly, the under-funded McCain effort did such a poor job in early voting in these states that it’s not the highest bar to clear.

Having said all that, the broad outlines of the early vote in this cycle are clear: Republicans outperforming their 2008 early vote effort by a wide margin and Democrats not equaling their 2008 effort in most places.

The memo:

COLORADO

  • Republicans are leading Democrats in absentee ballot requests and early votes by over 10,000 voters.
  • Republicans are outperforming voter registration by 2.13 points.
  • Republicans won the first day of early voting in Colorado. In 2008, Republicans lost early voting by nearly 4 points.
  • Republicans have made 1.5 million volunteer voter contacts in Colorado since the RNC’s AB/EV turnout program began nationwide.

FLORIDA

  • Republicans are leading Democrats in absentee ballot requests by over 44,000 voters.
  • Republicans are outperforming voter registration by 5.6 points.
  • Democrats are underperforming their share of 2008 AB/EV votes cast by 5.01 percentage points, while the GOP is over-performing their share by 3.78 points. The result is a net swing of +8.78 percentage points for Republicans.
  • Republicans have made over 5.7 million volunteer voter contacts in Florida since the RNC’s AB/EV turnout program began nationwide.

IOWA

  • At this point in 2008, Democrats led by almost 24 points in early voting. Today they lead by 8.3 points, a 65 percent collapse in Democrat support.
  • Almost 5,000 fewer Democrats have voted early this year than had done so at this time in 2008.
  • Democrats are underperforming their share of 2008 AB/EV votes cast by 0.41 percentage points, while the GOP is over-performing their share by 1.23 points. The result is a net swing of +1.65 percentage points for Republicans.Republicans have made nearly 1.1 million volunteer voter contacts in Iowa since the AB/EV turnout program began in the state.

MICHIGAN

  • AB/EV activity is down from 2008 in Democrat-leaning Washtenaw County (-5.05%).
  • AB/EV activity is up in Republican-leaning Ottawa County (7.90%).
  • Republicans have made over 1.8 million voter contacts in Michigan since the RNC’s AB/EV turnout program began nationwide.

NORTH CAROLINA

  • Republicans are outperforming our voter registration in absentee requests and early votes by nearly 2 points.
  • Democrats are underperforming their share of 2008 AB/EV votes cast by 3.31 percentage points, while the GOP is over-performing their share by 1.83 points. The result is a net swing of +5.14 percentage points for Republicans.
  • Republicans have narrowed the gap with Democrats in One-Stop early voting by 10.51 percentage points compared to the same point in 2008. Republicans have seen 59% growth in early voter turnout compared to 2008, while Democrats have grown by less than 20%.
  • Republicans have made nearly 2.2 million volunteer voter contacts in North Carolina since the AB/EV turnout program began in the state.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

  • Republicans lead Democrats by over 5 points in absentee ballot requests in New Hampshire’s key towns.
  • Republicans are outperforming our voter registration in absentee requests by 4 points.
  • Republicans have made over 700,000 volunteer voter contacts in New Hampshire since the RNC’s AB/EV turnout program began nationwide.

NEVADA

  • Republicans are outperforming our voter registration in absentee requests and early votes by 4 points.Democrats are underperforming their share of 2008 AB/EV votes cast by 2.11 percentage points, while the GOP is over-performing their share by 2.30 points. The result is a net swing of +4.41 percentage points for Republicans.
  • In Clark County, Republicans have narrowed the gap with Democrats in early voting by 13.4 percentage points compared to the same point in 2008.
  • Republicans have seen 62% growth in early voter turnout compared to this point in 2008, while Democrats have only seen 14% growth.
  • Republicans have made over 1.3 million volunteer voter contacts in Nevada since the RNC’s AB/EV turnout program began nationwide.

OHIO

  • Republicans are outperforming our share of voter registration in absentee requests and early votes by 8.73 points.
  • Democrats are underperforming their share of 2008 AB/EV votes cast by 7.60 percentage points, while the GOP is over-performing their share by 5.94 points. The result is a net swing of +13.54 percentage points for Republicans.
  • Republicans have closed the gap on Democrats’ historic absentee and early vote advantage for 15 of the past 16 days.
  • Republicans have made almost 3.7 million volunteer voter contacts in Ohio since the RNC’s AB/EV turnout program began nationwide.

PENNSYLVANIA

  • Republicans are leading Democrats by over 19,000 absentee requests.
  • Republicans are outperforming our share of voter registration in absentee requests by nearly 12 points.
  • Democrats are under-performing their share of 2008 AB/EV votes cast by 4.06 percentage points, while the GOP is over-performing their share by 2.10 points. The result is a net swing of +6.16 percentage points for Republicans.
  • Republicans have made nearly 3 million volunteer voter contacts in Pennsylvania since the RNC’s AB/EV turnout program began nationwide.

VIRGINIA

  • AB/EV activity is down from 2008 in the Democrat counties of Alexandria (-10.12%), Arlington (-13.38%), Fairfax (-6.03%).
  • AB/EV activity is up in Republican-leaning Loudoun County (14.60%).
  • Republicans have made more than 2.7 million volunteer voter contacts in Virginia since the RNC’s AB/EV turnout program began nationwide.

WISCONSIN

  • AB/EV activity is down from 2008 the Democrat counties of La Crosse (-19.25%) and Rock (-6.41%)
  • AB/EV activity is up the Republican counties of Outagamie (12.06%) and Washington (26.14%).
  • On the first day of in-person absentee voting, the Republican bastion of Waukesha County out-voted Dane County, a liberal Democrat stronghold and home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, despite visits to Madison by high-profile Democrat surrogates and celebrities.
  • Republicans have made over 2 million volunteer voter contacts in Wisconsin since the RNC’s AB/EV turnout program began nationwide.

He also writes:

With less than two weeks until Election Day, the unprecedented GOP ground game is producing dramatic results in absentee balloting and early voting (AB/EV) that will give us a critical edge. We will continue to build on this momentum in the next thirteen days, meaning it will be increasingly difficult for Democrats to cobble together the necessary votes.

In the battleground states with available data, Republican AB/EV activity is strong. In addition to raw Republican versus Democrat turnout numbers, there are two key metrics by which we can measure this.

First, we can calculate the party’s share of AB/EV activity as compared to the party’s share of voter registration. The data show the percentage of AB/EV activity from Republicans is greater than the percentage of registered voters which are Republican, indicating higher turnout rates among registered Republicans than among registered Democrats. For example, Republicans are outperforming our share of voter registration in absentee requests and early votes by 5.6 points in Florida, 8.73 points in Ohio, and nearly 12 points in Pennsylvania.

Second, we can measure the party’s share of AB/EV activity as compared to its share in 2008. In most cases, the data show Republicans making up a larger share of early voters this year than they did four years ago. Democrats make up a smaller share, giving Republicans an important advantage.Across the eight states, Democrats are underperforming their share of 2008 AB/EV votes cast by a net 5.85 percentage points, while Republicans are over-performing their share by 2.13 points, yielding a net swing of +7.98 percentage points for Republicans.

In states without party affiliation data, we can still gauge partisan turnout by the overall AB/EV activity rate in Democrat-leaning and Republican-leaning counties as compared to 2008. In many Democrat-heavy counties activity is down from 2008, while in critical Republican-heaving counties, AB/EV activity is up.

In yet another sign of Republican strength, Gov. Romney is winning the independent vote, both on the national level and in key battlegrounds. Both the latest Quinnipiac/CBS News poll and PPP poll in Ohio show Gov. Romney winning independents by 7 points. A recent LVRJ/SurveyUSA poll gave Gov. Romney an 18-point lead with independents in Nevada.

We’re not just over-performing with our base; unaffiliated voters are breaking for us too because they recognize that only Gov. Romney offers a real plan and a positive vision for the future.

While many of the Democrat ballots cast come from high propensity voters who would vote regardless, the Republican turnout operation has been focused on getting low propensity voters who would otherwise not vote to cast ballots early. As such, turnout for the Romney-Ryan ticket on Election Day will remain as strong as expected.

Past trends in Iowa, North Carolina, and Nevada show that Republicans turn out for early voting in greater numbers as we get closer to Election Day. We’ve seen that already in Iowa and Ohio, and we are seeing the same trend develop again this year in North Carolina and Nevada, meaning the Republican advantage will grow in coming days.

Moreover, our superior ground game and organization will continue to drive Republicans to vote early right up to Election Day–thanks to the tireless work of over 119,000 volunteers who have already made 28 million voter contacts since our AB/EV turnout program began and 44.8 million contacts total since the spring.

Tags: RNC , Swing States

Swing States to Obama: We Don’t Approve



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Gallup has released Obama’s average job approval rating for 2011 in all 50 states (and D.C.).

The numbers are pretty lousy-to-awful in most of the swing states.

Wisconsin: 47.4 percent.

Pennsylvania: 45 percent.

Virginia: 44.5 percent.

Oregon: 44.5 percent.

North Carolina: 43.7 percent.

Florida: 43.6 percent.

Ohio: 42.1 percent.

New Mexico: 41.7 percent.

Nevada: 41.3 percent.

Colorado: 40.4 percent.

New Hampshire: 38.7 percent.

Of course, “I approve of the job President Obama is doing” does not necessarily correlate to “I will vote for him in 2012,” and vice versa. Voters who are disappointed with Obama might prefer him as president to the GOP option.

But, all things considered, this is a very weak position for an incumbent president to begin an election year.

Tags: Barack Obama , Swing States

Obama, the GOP, and the ‘Big Nine’



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Pollster Glen Bolger wants Republicans to start thinking about the Big Nine. No, that’s not another collegiate football conference:

The nine states that George W. Bush won in 2004 but flipped over to Barack Obama in 2008: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

In six of the states, he had a higher disapproval rating than approval rating during the first half of the year — Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia.  In North Carolina, his approval rating is dead even — 46% approve/46% disapprove.  Only in Iowa (49% approve/42% disapprove) and Florida (47% approve/45% disapprove) is his approval rating still a net positive.

Despite Obama’s troubles, Bolger notes that the GOP nominee won’t have an enormous margin for error:

The Republican nominee has to run the table in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and either Virginia or New Mexico to win.  These data makes a compelling case that the Tar Heel state is joining Ohio and Florida as the must-win battlegrounds that will determine the next President of the United States.

Not included in the Big Nine is New Hampshire, where Obama’s approval is 41.3 percent and his disapproval is 51.1 percent. That state is only four electoral votes, but I’m sure the GOP nominee would love to have every state he (or she?) can get. Republicans would also argue that Obama’s troubles with working-class whites will give them much better than usual chances in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Tags: 2012 , Barack Obama , Swing States

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