Romney sought to dent Obama’s auto claim with a television ad aired in the Toledo and Youngstown markets suggesting that Chrysler, which was purchased by Italians, plans on building its Jeep brand in China. Obama’s campaign quickly responded, noting that the ad doesn’t mention that Chrysler is keeping and expanding its North America Jeep building operations – including in Toledo – while exploring expansion into China. Auto executives also criticized the Romney ad.
– William Douglas, Washington Bureau
WISCONSIN (10 electoral votes)
Romney has surged in Wisconsin the last few weeks, raising the possibility he could be the first Republican presidential nominee to win the state since 1984.
Obama had been ahead, but his advantage started to slip after his rough outing in the first presidential debate. Now polls show the candidates nearly even in Wisconsin, which got lots of candidate attention this week.
The state has a struggling economy and voters are bombarded with political ads either blaming Obama for the economy or touting his efforts. The Green Bay media market is among the most saturated with political ads in the country.
Few undecided voters remain, said David Canon, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We’re an incredibly polarized state right now and a very activated state in terms of politics," he said. "I would be shocked if more than 4 percent were undecided."
– Sean Cockerham, Washington Bureau
IOWA (6 electoral votes)
Obama hasn’t trailed in the RealClearPolitics.com poll average for more than a year, but here’s a wild card: The Des Moines Register’s surprise endorsement of Romney.
The newspaper remains an influence in a state that gave Obama a 9 percentage point victory in 2008.
“The Register endorsement is unusual, but at most it will move molehills rather than mountains," said political science professor Dennis Goldford at Drake University in Des Moines. "Still, if the race is as close as it seems, it could move enough undecideds to Romney to make a difference."
He said that Romney could further benefit by statewide campaigns involving the controversial decision to allow same-sex marriage in the state because opposition to the court ruling might increase conservative turnout.
As in other battleground states, Iowa has seen a surge of early voters. Nearly half a million Iowans had cast ballots as of Oct. 30, about a third of the votes cast four years ago. Registered Democrats represent about 44 percent of those early voters, slightly ahead of the party’s 2008 pace. Republicans, at 32 percent, are also ahead of the 2008 schedule. Independent turnout has dipped.
– David Helling, The Kansas City Star
NEVADA (6 electoral votes)
Perhaps no state was harder hit by the recession than Nevada, a crucial test of Obama’s economic policies four years after he carried the state by more than 12 percentage points.
The foreclosure crisis lingers in and around Las Vegas and the northern cities of Reno and Sparks, while statewide unemployment hovers around 12 percent, highest in the nation.
Still, Obama is narrowly favored. He’s benefited from a well-organized Democratic political apparatus in Nevada, while Romney has been forced to work around a fractured state Republican Party to mobilize voters. Republicans, outnumbered by more than 100,000 active voters in 2008, have reduced the Democrats’ advantage. But Democrats have in recent months regained much of that ground.
– David Siders, The Sacramento Bee
COLORADO (9 electoral votes)
Republican presidential candidates carried Colorado in nine of 10 elections before Obama won the state in 2008. An expanding Latino population and an influx of young people from California and other Democratic-leaning states have reshaped the political landscape. The Colorado electorate is nearly evenly divided now – one-third each Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated – and the race is a virtual tie.
The election here is likely to be decided by the relatively high proportion of unaffiliated voters in the Denver suburbs and along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. They tend to be socially moderate, with libertarian, if not conservative, fiscal leanings.
“It’s definitely running on a razor’s edge right now,” said Kyle Saunders, an associate professor of political science at Colorado State University. “I really would call it a coin flip.”
– David Siders, The Sacramento Bee