Tag Archives: Battleground counties

Top 10 Counties That Hate America

These are the inverse of Battleground Counties.  Coincidentally I grew up in County #4 (PG 4 LIFE):

Following are the 10 counties or county equivalents where President Barack Obama took his largest share of the vote. Most are black-majority areas that historically are staunchly Democratic and were eager to re-elect Obama, the first black president in the nation’s history.

1. Shannon, South Dakota (93%): included within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the southwestern part of the state.

2. Bronx, New York (91%): about one in nine residents in New York City’s northernmost borough is non-Hispanic white. Bronx has been the most pro-Democratic New York City borough in five straight presidential elections.

3. Petersburg, Virginia (90%): a black-majority area about 25 miles south of Richmond.

4. Prince George’s, Maryland (90%): a black-majority area that abuts Washington, D.C.

5. Jefferson, Mississippi (89%): a sparsely populated, black-majority area by the Mississippi River south of Vicksburg.

6. Claiborne, Mississippi (88%): a black-majority county that abuts Jefferson to the north.

7. Baltimore city, Maryland (87%): more than three in five residents are black in Maryland’s biggest city.

8. Macon, Alabama (87%): a black-majority area that includes Tuskegee, the birthplace of Rosa Parks and the site of a university founded by Booker T. Washington.

9. Menominee, Wisconsin (86%): includes the Menominee Indian Tribe about 45 miles northwest of Green Bay.

10. Starr, Texas (86%): about 96 percent of residents are Hispanic in this low-income area on the Mexican border in south Texas.

Seven Battleground Counties to Watch on Election Night

Same original author as the earlier piece (Chris Palko) but an election night spin on each county with few repeats.  This guy does good work. Lots of smart info:

Looking for some shortcuts when it comes to projecting which candidate has the edge Tuesday night? Once returns start coming in, turn your focus to these seven counties—they will be small scale indicators of that state and national results:

Prince William County, VA
Virginia will be one of the first states to report results on Tuesday night, and Prince William County is the most important county there. Romney needs to win the county to win Virginia. George W. Bush and Bob McDonnell were able to win the county rather solidly. There has been an influx of immigrants in the past decade, and as a consequence it has a somewhat more Democratic lean than before. This will also be a good check to see if the Romney and Obama campaigns’ assumptions about the demographics of the electorate are correct.

Lake County, OH
This is the closest county in the most important state. Lake County is the eastern suburbs of Cleveland and the best gauge for how the entire state will vote. In 2004, Bush won the county by the same margin as he won the state. Obama ran a bit worse than his state percentages in 2008 but was able to win.  Watching Lake County is the best shortcut for projecting Ohio results on election night.

Bucks County, PA
In the critical suburban Philadelphia area, Chester County is most likely going for Romney and Montgomery and Delaware Counties will go for Obama. The swingiest of them all is Bucks County, north of Philadelphia.  Monday’s Romney rally that garnered some 30,000 supporters was held here for exactly that reason. In 2004, Bucks went for John Kerry by three percentage points, the exact same margin as the rest of the state. It has trended right in the past few years, as Republican Pat Toomey won the county 53 percent to 47 percent in his 2010 Senate race. Romney has to keep the margins close in suburban Philadelphia, and he has to win Bucks to do so.

Jefferson County, CO
In a heavily polarized state, the Denver suburbs hold the balance of power. Jefferson County, along with its suburban neighbors, voted for Bush in 2004 by small margins and then flipped to Obama in 2008. Romney had one of his most memorable campaign rallies at Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is in Jefferson County. Whichever candidate wins this county is going to win Colorado.

Washoe County, NV
The dynamic of Nevada politics is Democratic Clark County against Republican outstate areas, with Reno in the middle. For Romney to win Nevada, he has to win Washoe County. In 2004 and 2008, it matched the state percentages for Bush and Obama. A win here doesn’t guarantee Romney a victory in Nevada, but it is a necessary component.

Racine County, WI
Racine County is slightly more Republican than Wisconsin as a whole. Bush narrowly won it in 2004, while he barely lost the state overall.  Even so, anything more than a narrow Romney victory would augur well for him in a county that is a representative blend of urban, suburban and rural areas. It’s also worth watching due to the potential gains in Southern Wisconsin that could accrue with Paul Ryan, their congressman on the ticket. The potential for adding independents and some Democrats, who have voted for Ryan for years, to the Romney column could be decisive in a close state.

Oakland County, MI
The county that Mitt Romney grew up in is worth watching for a few reasons. First, if Romney wants to pull an upset in Michigan, he must win Oakland County. Second, it is precisely the sort of northern affluent suburb Republicans have had problems with at the presidential level for the past 20 years. Gains here would be indicative of Romney strength in other affluent suburbs in key states and a significant difference between a winning Romney coalition and the previous winning coalition that George W. Bush assembled.

8 Battleground Counties to Decide the Election

Addendum:  This is a re-post from September 20 that I think has held up pretty well.  The biggest difference I’d say is Florida is almost certainly out of reach for Obama so look at Scott County, Iowa as a good one tonight.  You can also scroll through the numerous posts on various Battleground Counties across the county.

[Begin Original Post] That headline is a bit of a stretch but reader Roland Tilden sends a link to a story by Smart Media Group’s Chris Palko who breaks down 10 counties he believes Romney must win to carry the election.   And since we love Battleground Counties almost as much as we love Battleground States, this was right up our alley. What is consistent about the counties selected is each is a big population center so that understandably impacts election outcomes and each was a Bush 2004 and an Obama 2008 county. Not coincidentally Mitt Romney’s original bus tour in June hit a great many of these counties and will almost certainly do so again this time.

The only thing I don’t like about the list is 2 counties are in North Carolina which is not a Battleground in my opinion. In Palko’s defense, this story was originally published in April so his choices are really excellent so far out. As for North Carolina, it’s a state Romney will win by 5-10%. And until President Obama actually campaigns in the state (he hasn’t in all of 2012 outside of his Convention), it’s very likely a GOP pickup with minimal effort from this point forward and not worthy of much attention beyond that acknowledgement.

We have profiled a number of these counties whose links I provide below.  Where there is a battlegroundwatch.com post specifically on one of the cities he mentions, I provided the link as well in addition to my “Battle for [State]” series for each state. With that said, here are the eight Battleground Counties (in reverse order of impact according to Palko) that will go a long way to deciding the election: Hillsborough County, N.H. , Prince William County, Va., Chester County, Pa., Jefferson County, Colo., Arapahoe County, Colo., Hamilton County, Ohio, Pinellas County, Fla., Hillsborough County, Fla.

#8: Hillsborough County  New Hampshire
2004: Bush 51 – 48 2008: Obama 51 – 48
Population: 400,721 Largest city: Manchester

Palko: Most of New Hampshire’s population is close to the Massachusetts state line, which Hillsborough County straddles. It contains a vital grouping of towns and cities including Manchester and Nashua, the two largest cities in the state. Both are swing communities, in the electoral sense.

Battlegroundwatch: This is the location of Mitt Romney’s summer home, the place where he launched his Presidential bid and where he kicked off his June bus tour. They have spent money on the air, these voters are Mitt Romney kind of Republicans and the state has had a Republican resurregence.  Ripe for the plucking but it will be a battle to the end.

#7: Prince William County Virginia
2004: Bush 53 – 47 2008: Obama 58-42
Population: 402,002 Largest community: Dale City

Palko: Prince William County is an exurban county about 25 miles southwest of Washington D.C. It’s on the edge between the traditional, conservative Virginia, and the more progressive suburbs outside the capital. Prince William has become very diverse in recent years, particularly in the I-95 corridor. A hard swing towards Obama was key for him winning Virginia.

Battlegroundwatch: I would have ranked this much higher and definitely in the top 3. This is Obama’s bread-basket: upwardly mobile suburban moderates who trended strongly for Obama in 2008 but whose support has softened in the difficult economic environment. This is where Romney will need to make his mark if he is going to stem the tide of Northern Virginia dominance by Democrats.

  #6 Chester County Pennsylvania
2004: Bush 52 – 47.5 2008: Obama 54 – 45
Population: 498,886 Largest city: West Chester

Palko: Of the four suburban Philly counties, Chester was the only one that Bush won in 2004. The tail end of the prestigious Main Line is in the county, but so is the disadvantaged city of Coatesville. In between, there are plenty of middle-class suburbs, and even still some farmland. This is one of the few counties in Pennsylvania showing substantial population growth, so its importance is increasing.

Battlegroundwatch: It was no accident that the “youthful” Paul Ryan (early-40s is still youthful, right?) and the Romney sons have hit this area hard .  Similar to the suburban growth outside of DC in Virginia, this area outside Pennsylvania is full of persuadable Romney voters.  To win the state, Republicans must begin performing well here and in neighboring counties and they’ll never crack this nut.

#5 Jefferson County Colorado 
2004: Bush 52 – 47 2008: Obama 54 – 45
Population: 534,543 Largest city: Lakewood

Palko: Colorado is a heavily polarized state divided between very liberal Dems in Denver and Boulder, and very conservative Reps in Colorado Springs and the rural areas. The balance of power is held by the handful of counties in suburban Denver. Jefferson County to the west of the city is truly a purple county closely mirroring Colorado’s overall results in the last two presidential contests.

Battlegroundwatch: Filled with one of my favorite stories this cycle about battleground Precinct 7202330176 in Lakewood, a neighborhood who has called all but one statewide race correct since 2000. The swingiest of swing voters, Jefferson has been a regular stop for both sides all election season. Crowd sizes have been huge for Romney and flipping suburban white voters will be the key like they were in 2008 when they flipped for Obama.

#4  Arapahoe County Colorado
2004: Bush 51 – 48 2008: Obama 56 – 43
Population: 572,003 Largest city: Aurora

Palko: Arapahoe County is to the southeast of Denver and, like Jefferson, it’s a purple county that determines which party wins CO. It contains most of Aurora, the second biggest city in the Denver area. The county, and Aurora in particular, has seen a major increase in its Hispanic population in the past decade. This development has made the county a bit more Democratic than its neighbors.

Battlegroundwatch: The key here are the unaffiliated voters who much like Jefferson County swung for Obama in 2008.  Economy is the key.  These are upper middle income workers who often commute to Denver but fall into the pure suburban stereo-type.  Issues like taxes and jobs resonate strongly with this crowd who has unfortunately seen its fair share of recent tragedies.

#3 Hamilton County Ohio
2004: Bush 52.5 – 47 2008: Obama 53 – 46
Population: 802,374 Largest city: Cincinnati

Palko: Cincinnati is one of the most Republican metro areas outside of the South, but the central city county of Hamilton is a swing county. Hamilton County is worth watching, in part, because African-American turnout will be crucial. Sustaining high African-American turnout can make or break Obama’s reelection hopes. [Obama was] the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to carry the county.

Battlegroundwatch: A great boon for Obama in 2008 in a state where he underperformed national margins, his win in Hamilton was a shocker.  This is Rob Portman country so look for the debate prep partner and VP short-lister to be featured prominently in efforts to flip this back. This once reliable GOP region must flip if Romney is to have any chance in Ohio.

#2 Pinellas County Florida
2004: Bush 49.6 – 49.5 2008: Obama 54 – 45
Population: 916,542 Largest city: St. Petersburg

Palko: The top counties are both part of Florida’s I-4 Corridor, which runs through the Daytona Beach, Orlando and Tampa areas. The I-4 is the most important region in this presidential election. In Pinellas County, St. Petersburg has some neighborhoods that are solidly Democratic, but most of the territory is split 50/50. Every precinct could make the difference between winning and losing.

Battlegroundwatch: I would have inserted Henrico Couty, VA here (bigger Battleground, Florida trending GOP). But Pinellas is an interesting county w/a lot of conflicting politics.  It was a strong Romney county in the primaries where he doubled his nearest competitor. Unsurprisingly Ann Romney has been featured prominently in this county next door to the Republican Convention.

#1 Hillsborough County Florida
2004: Bush 53 – 46 2008: Obama 53 – 46
Population: 1,229,226 Largest city: Tampa

Palko: The most crucial county this fall is on the other side of Tampa Bay from Pinellas, the runner-up. Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa and its immediate suburbs, is the only county listed with more than one million residents. Still, it’s a fairly accurate small-scale version of America. It has a solidly Democratic central city that includes large African-American and Hispanic populations, and some outlying areas that are heavily Republican. The immediate suburbs are closely split. Whoever wins Hillsborough County in November is most likely the next occupant of the White House.

Battlegroundwatch: If Mitt Romney doesn’t win Florida, he probably doesn’t win the election.  And if he doesn’t win Hillsborough County, he probably doesn’t win Florida. Home of the Republican Convention and probably more campaign attention than any in the state.  This target rich county at the base of the I-4 corridor, this county is as closely contested as any in the country.  Of the 1.95 million votes cast in presidential elections since 1992, Republican nominees won only about 14,000 more than Democratic nominees. The outcome in the Tampa Bay market has run within 2 percentage points of the statewide result in every presidential election since 1992.

Battleground Counties: Pennsylvania Edition

Bucks County native, the guy who called the Paul Ryan VP pick and alum of the right University, Robert Costa uses tonight’s massive Romney Rally in Pennsylvania to drop some knowledge on one of our favorite topics: Battleground Counties — specifically Pennsylvania Battleground Counties.

Mitt Romney is poised to win Pennsylvania — if he can stay competitive in the moderate suburbs and put up large numbers in Pennsylvania’s conservative pockets. “If he runs up big margins in the central and western parts of the state, and holds his own in the Philadelphia suburbs, he can win it, even if he gets his butt beat in Philadelphia,” says former Republican senator Rick Santorum. “Even then, he’ll need a little magic.” … It won’t be easy. “Republicans have been here before,” says G. Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin and Marshall College. “In 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush got to within three or four points in the last week, and ended up losing both times. They know how to get to the red zone, but they haven’t figure out how to get into the end zone.” Four years ago, John McCain lost every county in suburban Philadelphia…Winning Pennsylvania is complicated. In a way, it’s a microcosm of America. It has big, deep-blue cities, sprawling, deep-red rural counties, and highly populated suburbs. It has a pro-life Democratic senator (Bob Casey), but five times elected a pro-choice Republican (Arlen Specter) to the upper chamber. It counts a Democratic grandee (Ed Rendell) as a former governor, and Pat Toomey, the former Club for Growth president, as a senator…For Romney to win, five key counties need to either shift toward Romney or see depressed Democratic turnout. And most important, these shifts need to happen in a synchronized fashion. For example, even if Romney does better than McCain in the suburbs, he needs turnout among Philadelphia Democrats to be average and Republican turnout in western Pennsylvania to be heavy.

Bucks County 

2008 result: Obama +9
2004 result: Kerry +3

Bucks County is a tale of two suburbs. In upper Bucks, there are thousands of stucco-and-brick mansions that are home to well educated, socially liberal professionals… In lower Bucks, you have thousands of Levittown homes…The people here are blue-collar Democrats. Many of them had union jobs at Fairless Works, a U.S. Steel mill, until it closed, and now work in non-industrial sectors. Together, these two suburban areas and their 600,000 residents form a capricious political powerhouse…To win Bucks, you need to win the hearts of the Reagan Democrats and the fickle soccer moms who live in the palaces on former farmland…As a reserved, Harvard-trained businessman, Romney appeals temperamentally to upper-Bucks Republicans, and his economic-focused campaign appeals to Levittown’s many out-of-work residents.

Philadelphia County

2008 result: Obama +67
2004 result: Kerry +60

In 2008, Obama garnered 30,000 more votes in Philadelphia than Kerry did, giving him more than half-a-million votes in a single county. That was about one-sixth of Obama’s statewide total — and his approximate margin of victory. In the rest of the state, Obama and McCain more or less tied, but McCain ended up losing by about 600,000 votes. McCain’s effective tie in 66 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties wasn’t enough, and Romney’s campaign knows that it has to come out well ahead in the rest of the state in order to eke out a victory once the Philadelphia returns are tallied. You can be sure that Obama adviser David Axelrod is counting on Philadelphia’s old-fashioned Democratic and public-union machine, which is managed by Representative Bob Brady, to show up.

Luzerne County

2008 result: Obama +8
2004 result: Kerry +3

Luzerne County is in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area in northeastern Pennsylvania…the county is trending Republican. Senator Toomey nearly won Luzerne County two years ago, coming within a thousand votes of victory in a county that Obama carried by eight points. According to local election officials, Democrats still outnumber Republicans in registration by a hefty margin, but Republican and independent registrations have jumped markedly since Obama’s 2008 campaign…The Romney campaign has a bustling campaign office in Luzerne. Their goal is to repeat Toomey’s 2010 model, which means a near-constant focus on the economy with a bipartisan message…These voters are looking for an economic alternative, and they’re unhappy with Washington. Two years ago, Republican Lou Barletta, a vocal critic of illegal immigration, won the area’s congressional seat [ousting powerful 13-term incumbent Paul Kanjorski by nearly 10-points].

Cambria County

2008 result: Obama +1
2004 result: Bush +2

Cambria County is east of Pittsburgh, and it includes Johnstown, a Democratic city that was the late John Murtha’s political base for decades, as well as Republican-leaning suburbs closer to Pittsburgh…Cambria County is full of families who grew up with fathers who worked in coal mines and steel mills, and many of the best jobs in the county remain in the energy sector. Expect Obama to pay a price for his regulations…Senator Toomey carried Cambria two years ago, and Republican Keith Rothfus, who narrowly lost his House race in 2010, is running strong against the county’s incumbent congressman, Democrat Mark Critz, a former Murtha staffer. Romney should also be helped by U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith, a former coal executive from the region who is running countless TV ads about Obama’s “war on coal.”

Lancaster County

2008 result: McCain +12
2004 result: Bush +32

Lancaster County and neighboring York County make up the base of the Pennsylvania GOP. Running up solid totals here gives you some breathing room, especially if Philadelphia’s suburbs don’t turn completely red and the turnout in the western counties is less than expected. … Politically, Pennsylvania Dutch Country is often overlooked, but it is more populated than people think, with over 500,000 residents, and turnout here can change the entire dynamic of a Republican’s statewide effort…But Romney’s late entry into Pennsylvania makes turnout in Lancaster harder to predict…Looking to win the state, Romney must hope that local conservatives don’t mind his absence.

 

Battleground County: Hamilton County, Ohio

Note: This is a blog post from July 16 that never got published.  No clue why.  But when I went looking for Hamilton County info for the earlier Ohio poll I knew something was missing.  Well, here it is:

We’ve had this county show up in a few posts — both in the Ohio battleground Map post as well as in the voter registration post.  The Cincinnati Enquirer takes a look at this county that may be the home of Romney’s Vice President, but may also be the county that decides our next President:

Hamilton County is in play. After going Democratic in 2008 for the first time in a presidential race since 1964, Democrats hope to build on Barack Obama’s historic win here while Republicans hope to prove it was an anomaly. Obama visits today [Monday] for the first time in 10 months, but it certainly won’t be the last time he’ll be here before Election Day on Nov. 6, said county Democratic Chairman Tim Burke.

“I think everybody concedes that Mitt Romney can’t win the White House without winning Ohio,” Burke said, “and he can’t win Ohio without winning Hamilton County.” Burke and county Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou don’t agree on a lot, but they agree Hamilton County will be critical this year. “We can push (the election) over the edge because we are a critical corner of the state,” Triantafilou said. “Electorally, at the end of the day (2008) wasn’t a close election. We feel like this one will be close.”

Swing county in a swing state

Ohio is one of the largest swing states, and in 2008 Hamilton County voted slightly more for Obama than the state as a whole at 53 percent vs. 51.5 percent. “We are the local representatives of the national brand,” said Triantafilou. “In 2008, I would argue, the brand was a little tarnished, and 2010 was the beginning of our comeback” with the elections of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park.

Reservations for the Fall

Obama has made several trips to northern and central Ohio in recent months – that’s because the first priority in a campaign is always to shore up the areas of strongest support, said Herb Asher, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University. Despite the increasingly Democratic leanings of Hamilton County, neighboring Butler, Clermont and Warren counties remain firmly Republican. “You always take care of your base,” Asher said. “We know northeast Ohio is going to be very Democratic. Turnout there is going to make all the difference in the world.” At the same time, Asher noted, in a close election every vote counts, and they count equally regardless of which part of the state they come from.

Until 2008, Republican presidential candidates could count on Hamilton County, although margins have shrunk dramatically since 1996, when losing candidate Bob Dole took 50.1 percent of the county vote. Now Hamilton is one of three counties nationwide that the national media is following as a bellwether of the election. The Romney campaign, which raised $3 million during a stop here last month, is conceding nothing. “Absolutely, Hamilton County is winnable,” said Christopher Maloney, Ohio campaign spokesman. “It has traditionally been a stronghold for Republicans … and we’re counting on it to put us over the top in November.”

How Hamilton County Has Voted

 2008 Obama McCain
Hamilton County 53.0 46.0
Ohio result 51.5 46.9
2004 Kerry Bush
Hamilton County 47.1 52.5
Ohio result 48.7 50.8
2000  Gore  Bush
Hamilton County 42.8 54.0
Ohio result 46.5 50.0
1996  Clinton Dole
Hamilton County 43.1 50.1
Ohio result 47.4 41.0

Battleground Counties: Prince William County, Virginia

Prince William County, Virginia was a county mentioned in the very first post that inspired the whole Battleground Counties series but I never had a chance to profile this enormously important county in one of the two key Battleground States this election. If one candidate wins both Virginia and Ohio, they almost certainly win the election and whoever wins Prince William County likely wins Virginia so a lot rides on this burgeoning exurb. Just further west of voter-rich Fairfax County, Prince William only two decades ago would have been considered rural, but between the dramatic expansion of federal workers in Northern Virginia and a solid technology sector in this region, Prince William County has gone from horse pastures to McMansions in short order.  This is an area where the obscure sequestration debate resonates loudly –a quarter of its residents commute over an hour to get to work, most all for federal jobs impacted by the cuts. The county’s election impact is undeniable. Between 2004 and 2008 both the population and voter turnout for the major party candidates increased dramatically, from 131, 047 to 161,056 a 23% increase.  To put this is perspective, George Bush won the County in 2004  by 6% with a total of 69,776 votes.  In 2008 John McCain garnered 67,621 votes (enough to beat John Kerry by 6k votes) but still lost by 16% (25.8k votes) to President Obama. This is a changing and increasingly valuable exurb. Local writers at InsideNoVa.com drill down on their once sleepy but now hopping home county:

In June 2008, Democrat Barack Obama kicked off his general election campaign at the Nissan Pavilion in western Prince William County. Five months later, he closed his presidential campaign with an election-eve rally that drew about 85,000 people to the Prince William County Fairgrounds. This Friday, Obama returns to the area, holding a re-election rally in Manassas, where GOP nominee Mitt Romney campaigned Aug. 11 with his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan. Prince William, a booming Northern Virginia exurb of 413,000 residents, is home to some of Virginia’s most prominent conservatives, including Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors. Yet Obama carried Prince William by 25,000 votes in 2008, becoming the first Democratic nominee to win the county — and the state — in 44 years. The political cross-currents that made that possible — affluence, diversity, cul-de-sacs sprouting where there were once country fields — make Virginia’s second-largest county a key battleground in this pivotal swing state. “If you win Fairfax County and Prince William you’re almost guaranteed to tilt the state,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-11th. As for Romney, “He’s got to take Prince William,” says Connolly’s predecessor, Republican Thomas M. Davis III. “He doesn’t need it by a lot, but he needs to carry Prince William.”

Democrat beachhead in Northern Virginia

For decades, Prince William and Loudoun County, its neighbor to the north, were outside-the-Beltway behemoths that gave Republicans something of a firewall in presidential elections. In 2008, that firewall collapsed. Obama swept all of Northern Virginia, winning Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park. Collectively, Obama won Northern Virginia by 234,079 votes. In the rest of the state combined, he edged Republican John McCain by 448 votes. If Republicans hope to retake Virginia at the presidential level, they will have to chip away at Obama’s dominance in the state’s population centers such as Loudoun and Prince William, the fastest-growing localities in the state.

GOP opportunity

If Republicans hope to retake Virginia at the presidential level, they will have to chip away at Obama’s dominance in the state’s population centers such as Loudoun and Prince William, the fastest-growing localities in the state. Virginia Republicans say this election comes in a different climate from 2008. They say they have enthusiasm on their side and much better statewide organization than four years ago. Marshall said that “the present economic difficulties may turn some Democrats into Republican voters or more likely presidential no-shows and congressional-voters only, because whichever party is in power usually is blamed for the state of the economy.” Davis said Republicans “will do considerably better in what we call ROVA — the rest of Virginia,” than in 2008, but “they need to cut those margins down in NOVA. You certainly can’t make up 230,000 votes in the rest of the state.” That is a challenge because Northern Virginia “is culturally to the left of the Republican Party and we’re losing it on culture,” Davis said.

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Battleground Counties: Washoe County, Nevada

The Battleground Counties series makes a return as we head out west with Paul Ryan into Nevada and Washoe County. Although most of the population in Nevada rests in and around Las Vegas, once you head to heavily Republican Northern Nevada, Washoe County becomes the destination for politicians of all parties:

Washoe is the battleground county in the battleground state of Nevada. Rural Nevada is safe Republican terrain. Clark County is where 70 percent of the state population lives and where more Democrats thrive. So it’s Washoe County where the political wrestling is happening, a swing county in a swing state. “To boil it down, Washoe is probably the biggest target area of the state,” said Ryan Erwin, an adviser to the Romney campaign in Nevada.

Fast facts:

  • It is Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s home Northern Nevada turf
  • GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama were both in Reno [recently], addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention and sparring over national security
  • The Romney campaign opened a Reno “victory office” in late July
  • So far, more than $4 million worth of political TV ads have aired in the Reno market

The lay of the land

In 2008, Obama won Washoe on his way to his Nevada victory and the presidency, gaining 55 percent of the vote versus 46 percent for GOP presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. In 2012, Romney must beat Obama in Washoe to have a shot at winning Nevada and the White House. That is what former President George W. Bush did in his two successful Nevada campaigns, winning Washoe with a little more 50 percent of the vote in 2004 and just under 50 percent in 2000. James Smack, vice chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, said it comes down to this: For Republicans, Washoe is a must-win county while Democrats can afford to lose it and still win Nevada. “If a Republican is going to win the state, he has to win the 16 counties that are not named Clark,” said Smack, who also is the incoming Republican National Committeeman for Nevada.

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The Battle for Iowa: Battleground Counties — Today’s Must Read

Normally in any given state we like to focus on a handful of the key populous counties that will swing this year’s election.  The Des Moines Register lays out all 12 counties in Iowa that are Battlegrounds this year including this super-cool interactive map with voting results of every county in Iowa:

 The Des Moines Register examined a dozen swing counties that have seesawed from Republican to Democratic, home to ticket-splitting voters that both presidential campaigns desperately want to win over this fall. Polling data for Iowa is scarce, but a rolling average shows a stubborn tie between President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney. Such a tight race means a cache of votes here or there will save or kill a campaign. Both sides see opportunity in Iowa’s rural counties this cycle — Democrats in independent female voters and Republicans in white men without college degrees. The unemployment rate in Iowa’s 12 hottest swing counties ranges from 3.7 percent (Carroll) to 7.5 percent (Hamilton). Across the board, county leaders agree, the shaky state of the national economy is Obama’s biggest vulnerability.

And as Iowa looks at a stunted crop this fall, if not crop failure, voters will be focused on the drought’s impact on their local economies, and the government’s response.
This cycle, the GOP feels confident Mitt Romney will win many 2008 Obama counties — such as those he won by 1 point or less, including Warren, Hamilton, Iowa, Hardin and Franklin. Democratic strategists see gold in Muscatine, Wapello, Clinton and Des Moines counties — all fervently Democratic. The Democrats have opened offices there this cycle, as well as in all the bigger urban counties, where Obama will need to pile up huge surpluses to offset less favorable counties. Not every county in purple Iowa is competitive. Some could be called right now: Johnson, Des Moines and Lee will be safely in Obama’s column on Nov. 6, and Sioux, Lyon and Osceola will be safely in Romney’s. But some, like the dozen key “swingers” featured here, shift from D to R depending on the candidate, pet issues, hot local races and attention from the campaigns.

Although each county listed is hotly contested, not everyone would be considered a Battleground county under the auspices by which I refer to them.  Battleground counties, for our purposes, are both hotly contested counties and are heavily populated enough to swing the electoral balance in the state. For example, Scott County alone had nearly the same aggregate vote total in 2008 (85,292 votes cast for both Obama and McCain) as the bottom 9 counties combined (84,904 votes cast). So Scott County is clearly a Battleground County for our purposes while Greene County (4,720 votes cast) would not be. But even though not every county fits my definition, in this closely contested election, each is clearly a 2012 battleground as Jennifer Jacobs tremendously demonstrates. Here is the county by county breakdown reordered by aggregate vote total:

Scott — 85,292 total votes for Obama/McCain in 2008

  • Trend in last four presidential races: Dem by 9 points, Dem by 4 points, Dem by 3 points, Dem by 15 points.
  • Scott is a Democratic county and a big union county. But Branstad has never lost here, and Romney beat his GOP rivals here in the caucuses.
  • Iowa’s east coast counties — Scott, Muscatine, Clinton and Jackson among them — figured prominently in the Bush-Gore contest. Scott is an expensive battleground, where campaigns are forced by the border-state TV market to spend money advertising to already-decided Illinois.
  • Obama is amassing a battalion here, made up of neighborhood team leaders and support volunteers, who are called “core team members.”
  • Scott is more competitive than Democratic strategists might like to admit. The county government has a GOP lean. Four of the five countywide supervisors are Republicans, and so are two of the three state senators.
  • Scott is also GOP congressional challenger John Archer’s best bet for a strong showing. And Romney’s state chairman lives in Scott, where he’s leading a strong organization.

Woodbury — 44, 202 total votes for Obama/McCain in 2008

  • Trend in last four presidential races: Dem by 2 points, GOP by 3 points, GOP by 2 points, GOP by 1 point.
  • This is an urban river county where three states come together, and voters worry about competing with neighbors for jobs. Both Nebraska and South Dakota have lower income taxes, but Iowa has a more favorable sales tax.
  • It’s in the heart of Iowa’s red west, but unlike Pottawattamie to the south, it’s an outpost of urban Democrats.
  • Democrats recently opened a campaign headquarters here — in a Hispanic neighborhood in Sioux City. Woodbury Republicans opened theirs with Sam Clovis, a popular conservative radio host, officiating.
  • If congressional challenger Christie Vilsack can make a run of it here, her influence will energize the Democrats, politics watchers said.
  • Independent voters — a third of the electorate — will be the deciders this year, said Linda Holub, co-chair of the Woodbury GOP. Health care and federal debt top the issues list.

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Battleground Counties: Duval County, Florida

Florida has maintained national focus since its prominent place in the 2000 Presidential nail-biter.  Although it no longer holds the pole position as the #1 Battleground state in the nation, its high electoral vote count and persuadable voters make the state a prime destination for any candidate expecting to win the Presidency.  As with most Battleground states Florida has its voter rich Battleground Counties like Hillsborough County in the Southwest and Orange County at the top of the I-4 corridor. The Tampa Bay Times took a deep dive into Duval County in the Northeast which is typically considered GOP country, but there are meaningful trends making Duval very much a Battleground County:

One of Florida’s top battlegrounds, this longtime Republican stronghold is also one of the most confounding and unpredictable electorates you’ll find. Drive 30 minutes from any area in this New South, Navy town and you meet every stereotype imaginable: lifelong, white Democrats with horses and pickups, inner-city African-Americans fretting about street crime, social conservatives in a Baptist church encompassing nine blocks, northeastern retirees in flip-flops on the beach, or socially moderate Starbucks Republicans mingling in trendy restaurants. “It’s one of the most misunderstood counties in Florida,” said Democratic pollster Dave Beattie of Fernandina Beach in Duval. In this bastion of conservatism, the past two Republican mayors of Jacksonville raised taxes and fees significantly, while the new Democratic mayor has tea party activists hailing his fiscal conservatism. It’s a county that statewide Republican candidates routinely win by more than 15 percentage points, but can be nail-bitingly close with the right Democrat on the ballot.

Obama minding the gap

George W. Bush beat John Kerry in Duval by 62,000 votes in 2004 [58% to 42% — 16% difference], while former Jacksonville resident John McCain squeaked past Obama in 2008 by less than 8,000 votes [51% to 49% — 2% difference]. Few people expect President Obama to match his performance from four years ago, however. “His supporters are not going to be as fired up this time,” predicted lawyer Kenneth Boston, inhaling a stogie while sporting a bow tie and a glistening Obama watch at a Jacksonville Beach watering hole. “It’s impossible to match the excitement of last time. It was a first then, it was historic.” The question is not whether Obama can win Duval, but rather how close he can keep it. If the campaign can’t keep Duval closer than 7 or 8 percentage points from Republican Mitt Romney, it becomes harder to make up those votes elsewhere in the state.

African-American vote strength

The African-American vote is key. Nearly 28 percent of Duval’s 530,000 voters are African-Americans who overwhelmingly vote Democratic. The data-driven Obama campaign four years ago saw that tens of thousands of registered black voters hadn’t been showing up at the polls and launched the biggest voter mobilization ever in the area. Obama campaigned in Jacksonville three times in 2008, including the day before Election Day. This year, Obama is ramping it up still more, with one campaign office opened in January and two more to open within weeks. Obama and the first lady have each visited Duval County in the past three months. The administration recently sped up the arrival of a battleship, the USS New York, to Jacksonville’s Naval Station Mayport and fast-tracked a study of deepening Jacksonville’s ship channel.

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Battleground Counties, “Independent” Voters and Super Lazy Reporters

The Washington Post takes a deep dive (2600 words) into four Battleground Counties that will help decide this year’s election.  Incredibly, they greatly diminish this extensive work by first, including the state of Missouri in the analysis — a state Obama isn’t even contesting. Second, before delving into each state/county they offer polls including an admitted month-old poll in Ohio showing Obama leading by 11 percentage points. Besides using incredibly stale data, they even got the poll #s wrong.  In the cited Quinnipiac poll from June, Obama was only leading by 9 percentage points, not 11.  And there were a ton of issues with that poll like Obama having a 3 point advantage among male voters? There is no chance that is accurate in 2012. With plenty of other polls available, how does an ostensibly reputable newspaper use data from a month ago when election preferences change almost daily.  Lastly, this talk of independent voters is nonsense.  Most of the interviews were with complete partisans.  Of course, the Republican partisan’s concerns were minimized by the reporter in classic liberal journalistic fashion, but regardless this article is allegedly about Independent/persuadable voters. Unbelievable.

With that as our lead in, we will focus on the worthwhile aspects on this opus like the three actual Battleground counties where the outcome is actually relevant: Wood County, Ohio; Henrico County, Virginia; Hillsborough County, Florida

In these next 100 days, President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney and their political allies will spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to sway uncommitted voters in a few key states. These are the people they’re after. Interviews with dozens of voters in Florida, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia illustrate just how complicated each voter’s decision can be and, sometimes, how very far removed it is from the election strategies being mapped out in campaign conference rooms in Chicago or Boston or Washington. The conversations with voters also show how little the daily media circus of gaffes and campaign ads and surrogate attacks actually moves its intended targets. After months of heavy advertising by Romney, many voters knew only that he is Mormon, rich and not Obama. This weekend, the Obama campaign kicks off the last 100 days of campaigning with 4,600 small events around the country, including Olympics-watching parties, house parties and “Barbecues for Barack.” The Romney campaign is taking a different approach. The candidate is in Israel this weekend as part of an overseas tour designed to enhance his image as an international statesman.

As it turns out, the fight is for an extraordinarily small slice of the U.S. electorate. In one recent poll, more than two-thirds of voters said they already had all the information they needed to make their choice. So a few undecided people, in just a few places, could swing an entire country. Washington Post reporters visited four counties that could be decisive. All four voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and then for Obama in 2008, and each is in a state that will be crucial to the outcome in November.

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Battleground Counties: Hamilton County, Ohio

Note: This is based on an article published April 30, 2012

With Battleground counties gaining such prominence, I decided to go back and see what The Wall Street Journal published in their Swing Nation coverage.  Below is their look at Hamilton County, Ohio shortly after Romney locked up the GOP nomination:

As the 2012 race intensifies between President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the political backdrop in this pivotal swing state is being shaped by events that roiled Ohio a year ago. The fight over the bargaining rights of public-employee unions energized partisans on both sides, and amounted to a trial run for the general election that each party is now trying to use to its advantage. Neither party has a decisive edge, and Ohio figures to be a pivotal as well as closely fought state in the presidential race. Both parties have targeted Ohio as a battleground state, and the two candidates plan to spend a lot of time there. Mr. Obama will be in Ohio this week during his official campaign kickoff. Mr. Romney paid a visit Friday.  And while the union fight and its aftermath will affect the November campaign, including Ohio’s congressional elections, it will hardly be the only issue. A recent survey by the Quinnipiac University Poll showed nine in 10 Ohioans rated the economy as “extremely important” or “very important.”

Public employee unions and collective bargaining rights

Last year’s fight over public-employee unions was waged when Ohio’s unemployment rate was around 9%. Since then, though, it has dropped to 7.5%. One political debate will be whether the Republican Gov. John Kasich—the man at the center of the union fight—or the Democratic president, Mr. Obama, gets credit if the state’s jobless rate continues to fall. Democrats think the fracas reopened the door for supporters who have slipped away in recent years: white, working-class, Republican-leaning voters who disliked the GOP move to shrink the power of public-sector unions, to which many remain loyal. During the fight last year, Mr. Obama lashed out against Ohio’s collective-bargaining law and a similar law in Wisconsin. Republicans, however, are optimistic the core debate over the size of government—including pay and pensions of public employees—will energize their base and pull financially pressed swing voters in their direction. Mr. Romney had backed the law, writing on his Facebook page last year that he fully supported Ohio Republicans’ efforts “to limit the power of union bosses and keep taxes low.” Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a potential GOP running mate, tried to stay on the sidelines during the fight, but he has supported collective-bargaining rights for police in the past.

Battleground county

Hamilton County is an important swing county in what may be the most important swing state. It is closely watched because its evenly divided electorate has so accurately reflected Ohio’s in the past. Vote tallies here almost precisely mirrored the state’s overall results when Ohio went for Mr. Obama in 2008, 52% to 47%, and then for Mr. Kasich in 2010, 49% to 47%. Ohio gives an ideal vantage point to see how the two parties are battling. Democratic campaign workers are poring over the 1.3 million voter signatures collected to repeal the collective-bargaining law, in hopes of pinpointing swing voters: Democrats say 10% of the signatures came from registered Republicans, 24% were Democrats and independents accounted for 65%. Hamilton generated more signatures per resident than any other county against three GOP-backed laws last year, including the collective-bargaining law. Its rich trove of votes has prompted the Obama campaign to open two of its 18 Ohio offices here. Volunteers began knocking on doors across the state two weeks ago.

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Battleground Counties: Arapahoe County, Colorado

The Wall Street Journal wades into the Battleground County of Arapahoe in Colorado:

While opinions are hardly uniform, some local voters who backed Mr. Obama four years ago now agree with Mr. Romney when he says the president is “attacking success,” according to interviews in Arapahoe County, Colo. Even as the president seems to have made strides with middle-class and working-class voters with his populist campaign message, the interviews suggest he risks alienating voters a notch higher on the income scale. Arapahoe County, home to aerospace workers, business managers and other professionals who occupy the upper tiers of the middle class, is one of three bellwether counties in the swing states of Colorado, Ohio and Florida that The Wall Street Journal is tracking through the November election.

Battleground towns

The county is southeast of Denver and stretches across 72 miles of suburban and rural landscape. Arapahoe is home to the cities of Centennial and Greenwood Village, which have become suburban destinations for white-collar workers seeking quiet neighborhoods, good schools, smooth streets and Colorado’s only IKEA store. Centennial and Greenwood Village are home to a variety of companies, from life sciences to energy, defense and insurance. Many residents work in local office parks, avoiding the congested daily commute to Denver.  Arapahoe County’s median income of $58,968 is a notch above the statewide figure of $56,456. Centennial’s median income of $85,185 and Greenwood Village’s $114,460 put them squarely in upper middle-class territory. In the 2008 election, the towns were evenly divided, with Mr. Obama winning Centennial by less than 200 votes out of more than 60,000 cast and Republican Sen. John McCain taking Greenwood Village by 118 votes out of 8,818 cast.

Obama critics say its class warfare

Mr. Obama’s rhetoric isn’t specifically directed at many of the families here. Those who fall below the threshold of $250,000 for families and $200,000 for individuals would see tax cuts extended a year under the president’s plan. The question is whether voters within striking distance of those tax brackets are comfortable with the president’s campaign tone. Scott Anderson, of Centennial, is one voter who isn’t. He co-founded a company that builds computers for the satellite industry. Mr. Obama “is constantly attacking the people who create jobs,” Mr. Anderson said. The president’s “class warfare pits people who have not been as industrious or as successful against those who create jobs,” he added. Mr. Anderson said Mr. Obama’s tax policies have cut into his ability to reinvest profits in his company. He would pay more under the president’s plan to allow tax cuts to expire for families earning more than $250,000. Mr. Anderson said his views weren’t shaped only by self interest. Both his company and the U.S. economy would suffer if the president wins a second term, he said. That sentiment is echoed by other business people here. When several members of Rotary Club of Littleton gathered for coffee recently, they cited regulations, bureaucratic hassles and tax policies that have persuaded them to support Mr. Romney. While most had heard few details from the Republican candidate, they said his broad vision was more business-friendly and, presumably, better for their families’ finances.

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The Nevada Battleground and Democrat Overconfidence

Reading so many articles every day, I am fascinated how often Democrats or mainstream media talk about Nevada as if it is a lock for Obama barring some huge upset.  No credible polling supports that thesis (PPP polls always over-represent Democrats) and plenty of polls reveal Romney is even leading.  But no matter the evidence, media still write headlines like “Nevada isn’t a sure bet for Obama?”  “Sure bet?” Is there a credible person out there arguing it IS a sure bet?  Regardless, the LA Times wrote that headline in an in-depth look at the Silver State:

For decades, casinos were the golden key to prosperity, luring in tourists, cranking out jobs around the clock and flooding the state treasury with a perpetual stream of cash. Those days are over…The local economy is in shambles, done in by the double whammy of the national recession and the rise of Indian casinos in California. Unemployment is rampant. That presents a serious challenge to President Obama as he tries to repeat his 2008 victory in Nevada, a key swing state then and now.

Battleground County

Washoe County, which includes Reno and neighboring Sparks, is the swing region of Nevada, and as such will play an outsized role in the presidential campaign between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. To the south, Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County is a Democratic and labor union stronghold. The rural counties that make up most of the rest of the state are overwhelmingly Republican. That leaves Washoe, where Republicans have a slight registration edge and once had a near lock on elections. That is no longer the case, as Obama proved in 2008 by winning the county with 55% of the vote, matching his percentage statewide. Washoe County “kind of holds the balance of power now,” said Dave Damore, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “Basically, if a Republican loses Washoe County, they lose the state.” That isn’t as true of a Democrat, as Bill Clinton demonstrated when he lost Washoe twice while winning the state by thumping opponents in the southern part. But a Republican blowout in Washoe would spell doom for any Democrat in a statewide race.

There have been no independent polls to show how the region is trending, but it seems fair to say that the economy has created a tough environment for any incumbent. By multiple measures, Nevada has been the hardest-hit state in the nation, with an unemployment rate that peaked at 13.7% in 2010 and remained the nation’s highest at 11.6% in May. Nevada’s home foreclosure rate fell to No. 2 in the nation (behind Arizona) in March after 62 months in the top spot.

Permanent change in Reno

The Las Vegas area suffered the most, but Reno was not far behind. And economists and local officials say much of the damage to Reno-area tourism is probably permanent. Unlike Las Vegas, with its international reputation, Reno has always been more of a regional attraction, drawing tourists from Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. With the advent of large, full-service Indian casinos in Northern California, many of those tourists have no reason to visit anymore. Bill Eadington, an economics professor and director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, said his studies showed that gambling revenues from tourists in Reno declined by two-thirds between 1990 and 2010.

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Democrats Going to Hand Virginia to Romney?

Although Virginia is an unquestioned priority for both campaigns, Washington politics may hand the state to Mitt Romney because mandated Defense Department cuts by Democrats may turn nearly 100,000 northern Virginia employees into angry anti-Obama voters:

With presidential contenders Barack Obama and Mitt Romney currently tied in the polls, the outcome of the November election is likely to be decided by how a handful of “swing” states vote.  That will make a few densely populated counties in each swing state the main battleground for the fall campaign, and the most important will be Fairfax County in Virginia. In the case of Fairfax County, its 1.1 million residents represent one in seven of all Virginians, and so it bulks very large in the determination of which slate of electors will get the most votes. In 2008, candidate Obama attracted 310,000 votes in Fairfax, which was more than his margin of victory in the state.  No other county in the state contributed even a third of that number.

When last year’s Budget Control Act mandated cutting half a trillion dollars out of Pentagon spending over the next ten years, officials were able to find most of the required cuts by simply scaling back the administration’s planned increases to military budgets in future years.  In the past, progressive administrations have not been noted for raising military outlays as overseas conflicts wound down. However, only half of the defense cuts mandated by the budget law have begun to take effect, and now another half trillion dollars in cuts is poised to trigger on January 2, cutting the Pentagon’s base budget by ten percent in fiscal 2013 and subsequent years.  Studies indicate that Virginia will be hit harder than just about any other state, with 87,000 jobs disappearing in 2013 and 115,000 in 2014.  Reporter Patrick O’Conner warned in the Wall Street Journal on July 9 that the prospect of widespread layoffs in the military-industrial complex “could undercut Mr. Obama in battleground states heavily dependent on military spending, particularly Virginia.”

Which brings us back to Fairfax County.  Nobody seriously believes that Romney can carry a county that went over 60 percent for Obama the last time around.  There are too many government workers and liberals in the county for that to happen.  However, with hundreds of thousands of northern Virginians worried about their defense jobs in a second Obama Administration, it is quite possible Obama will receive less votes in the county — maybe enough less so that Romney can accumulate a majority statewide, winning Virginia’s 13 electoral-college votes.

WSJ Picks Up on Manufactured Non-Story of Romney Visiting Colorado “Red” County

I first put the equivalent comment in Sara Burnett’s comment section, but the liberal commentator bots refused to publish it (UPDATE: Hours later it made it through).  Now Neil King in the Wall Street Journal repeats her non-story asking the same non-question:  Why is Romney visiting “Red” towns/Counties in Colorado?

We’ll see if they publish my comment. Here is largely what I told each writer:

What a manufactured story.  Obama has a bus tour of deep blue towns and that is smart “base vote” campaigning.

“President Obama’s two-day bus trip starting Thursday through Northern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania is a trip largely through places he won before and where he’ll need to succeed again. This is no swing-county tour; this is a lot of need-to-have, not nice-to-have territory for any Democrat hoping to win these states. “

Romney’s bus tour, on the other hand, was of decidedly Battleground Counties but that’s not worthy of a contrasting mention in this non-story:

New Hampshire: Romney visits the towns of Stratham and Milford. Stratham is located in Rockingham County, in the southeastern most portion of the state. Barack Obama narrowly carried Rockingham in 2008, defeating Sen.  John McCain by about 1 percentage point. Milford is located in Hillsborough County, another blue county in 2008.  Obama carried this one by a margin of about 3 percentage points.

Pennsylvania: Weatherly and Quakertown are located in Carbon County and Bucks County, respectively, two counties that went blue the last time around. Obama won Carbon County by roughly 2 percentage points and carried Bucks County by about 9.

Wisconsin: Romney will stop at a manufacturer in Janesville, Wis. Janesville is located in the blue Rock County. Obama carried Rock County by almost 30 percentage points in 2008. More recently, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett carried this county in the recent recall election in the state, beating Republican Governor Scott Walker 56 percent to 43 percent.

Iowa: Davenport is located in Scott County, where Obama won with about 57 percent of the vote in 2008,  a double-digit margin over McCain, who received 42 percent of the vote.

Michigan: Romney will be stopping in Frankenmuth, in Saginaw County and in the city of Dewitt, which is located in Clinton County–Obama carried Saginaw and Clinton, although he narrowly eeked out McCain in the latter county, scoring roughly 50 percent of the vote to McCain’s 49 percent.

Now Romney works his base in Colorado because contrary to Obama campaign and media parroting, it wasn’t the Hispanic vote that carried Obama to victory in Colorado it was the white vote:

[C]ontrary to conventional wisdom, Latinos did not swing the state from red to blue in 2008. According to exit polls, John McCain managed 38 percent of the Latino vote. In 2004, George W. Bush pulled in 30 percent. The real action was with white voters, who gave McCain just 48 percent of the vote compared to 57 percent for Bush.

Obama’s 9 percentage point gain (versus Kerry in 2004) among the voting bloc representing 80%+ of overall voter turnout won the state.

This is the secure your base phase of the campaign.  Swing voters tune in after labor day.

If Romney is still limiting his Colorado visits to deep red counties in October then it is a story.  Right now it’s manufactured tripe.

The Ohio Battleground Map

Larry Sabatos’ Crystal ball troop do some of the best work every election season.  Today Kyle Kondik writes up the Battlegroup map of Ohio, complete with battleground counties we love so much. Despite its decreasing electoral value (much like it’s neighbor to the East — Pennsylvania), Ohio remains all-important to the 2012 election:

Ohio, the great maker of presidents, remains vitally important in presidential elections because it is one of the biggest of the 10-15 truly competitive states in the Electoral College. But it does not pack the electoral punch it once did. On one hand, the Buckeye State does have the seventh-most electoral votes of any state (only California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania have more). Of those states, only it and Florida have voted for the winning presidential candidate in each of the past five elections. On the other hand is this sobering fact for lovers of the Birthplace of Aviation — the last time Ohio cast less than 18 electoral votes for president (its new total after losing two votes following the 2010 census), Andrew Jackson was carrying it on his way to his first presidential win in 1828. That was 184 years ago.

In President Barack Obama’s Ohio victory, more than his whole winning margin came from Northeast Ohio, which provided about two-fifths of all votes cast for either Obama or Republican John McCain (for the purposes of this analysis, third party votes were removed). As is shown on the chart below, Obama won 59% of the two-party vote in Northeast Ohio’s 20 counties. In the state’s other 68 counties, McCain received close to 52% of the two-party vote, to Obama’s 48%.

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Mitt Romney Stumps on Obama’s Turf, Heads to Northern Virginia

Loudoun County, Virginia is as much an exurb as it is a suburb of Washington, DC but it is a definite Battleground this election season. In 2008 Obama won this county by 8 percentage points, 54 to 46. On Wednesday, Mitt Romney is going to be stopping by to say hello:

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will extend his swing through battleground Virginia this week, making a campaign stop in Loudoun County on Wednesday. Romney is holding an event in the Roanoke area Tuesday, appearing at Carter Machinery in Salem. On Wednesday afternoon, he’ll hold an event in Sterling at EIT LLC, an electronic design and production services company. Northern Virginia and the Roanoke-Lynchburg area will be critical regions of the state in November’s election.

Romney made two campaign stops in Virginia in early May, holding events in Fairfax County and in Portsmouth. He also delivered the commencement address May 12 at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

UPDATE: More on Romney’s visit to Northern Virginia:

The Northern Virginia technology company that Mitt Romney will visit this week happens to be, if you must know, doing fine.”We actually are doing fine,” Del. Joe T. May (R-Loudoun), the owner of EIT, said with a chuckle Monday after Romney’s campaign announced plans to visit the electronic engineering and manufacturing firm’s Sterling headquarters.

May isn’t exactly sure why Romney chose to visit his company, which employs 300 at two offices in Northern Virginia and two manufacturing facilities in Danville. The firm opened its second Danville facility, a 60,000 square-foot plant, in November. May figures someone involved in local Republican politics suggested EIT primarily because he’s a Republican small businessman. “I obviously didn’t propose the program to him,” May said. “His staff asked if we would be willing to host his presence and the answer is, ‘Sure.’ … They haven’t shared the gist of his remarks, but I would expect them to be business related, economy related and how are we going to improve the U.S. economy.” If Romney talks about how Obama’s health-care overhaul could hurt small businesses — provided the Supreme Court doesn’t throw it out this week — May can be counted on to nod his head approvingly. May is concerned that it would drive up insurance costs, although he hasn’t fully crunched the numbers. “We’ve done some really crude estimates and it is discouraging,” May said.

Presidential Geography: New Hampshire

The New York Times five-thirty-eight has an outstanding series on state electoral geography.  Today, they published one of our Battleground states: New Hampshire.

In 2012, New Hampshire — despite carrying just four electoral votes — is among the most important and is a major focus of both campaigns. Mitt Romney began a recent bus tour of America’s small towns in Stratham, N.H., and President Obama is scheduled to visit Strafford County on Monday.

270 to win

For both candidates New Hampshire represents not just four votes, but four of the final votes needed to get to, or stay in, the White House. On some of those maps, New Hampshire is the final push across the finish line.

The Bellwether: Merrimack County

Merrimack County, which is home to New Hampshire’s capital, Concord, has been a close barometer of the Democrats’ statewide strength since 2000, with Democratic support in the county consistently about 2 percentage points stronger than their statewide share of the vote. Concord itself, with its government workers, is solidly Democratic, but the towns surrounding it are Republican, almost balancing out the county.

A changing New Hampshire

“A third of the potential electorate in 2008 couldn’t vote in the state in 2000, either because they didn’t live in the state or because they weren’t old enough,” said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center. The changes have dramatically changed New Hampshire’s political landscape from among the most Republican states in the Northeast to one where Mr. Obama was able to win every county in 2008.

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Battleground Counties: Henrico County, Virginia

One of our favorite topics gets more ink today in the Richmond Times-Dispatch–Battleground Counties.  Henrico County, Virginia was mentioned in our very first post on this subject and remains as vital as ever to securing victory in one of the most important states this election cycle:

Henrico County has emerged as a bellwether in a critical battleground state that could determine the outcome of the presidential election. In large part because of the county’s influence, the Richmond area is among the regions where the battle for Virginia’s 13 electoral votes is expected to be decided. Last week, the Richmond-Petersburg area was the top media market in the nation for advertising in the presidential election by the Obama and Romney campaigns and outside groups. In recent years, the former conservative stronghold of Henrico has shifted from a dark red to pure purple, reflecting the demographic and attitudinal shifts that have put Virginia at the center of the Obama-Romney battle…University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said that while Henrico won’t necessarily decide the election, it will undoubtedly serve as a barometer for the state. “If Obama carries Henrico again, it’s an indicator he’s probably winning the state,” Sabato said. “He can lose it, but not by much.”

A volatile voting county

When Henrico reversed course in 2008 and voted for Obama after decades of picking Republican presidential candidates, so did Virginia, marking the first time a Democratic presidential candidate won the state since President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. The following year, the county swung back, backing Republican Bob McDonnell for governor. But Henrico’s political volatility goes back a bit further. In 2005, the year after the county helped keep President George W. Bush in the White House, the county voted to put Democrat Timothy M. Kaine in the Executive Mansion. In 2006, Henrico supported Republican George Allen in his ill-fated bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Two years later, the county not only helped elect Obama but also supported Democrat Mark R. Warner for the U.S. Senate.

Formerly predominantly white, now a suburban melting pot

  • Henrico is the sixth most-populous locality in the state
  • African-Americans now account for 30 percent of Henrico’s population, up from less than 25 percent in 2000
  • The Hispanic population has grown 152 percent since 2000 and now represents 5 percent of the county’s population
  • Henrico’s Asian population now tops 20,000 people and accounts for 6.5 percent of the population, compared with 3.6 percent in 2000
  • East vs West: While the western portion of the county’s population remains largely affluent, white and conservative, the eastern end, which has exploded in population, has become largely black and Democratic

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Battleground Counties: Hillsborough County, Florida

One of my favorite topics this election season are the Battleground Counties that will truly decide this election.  We’ve covered a few of these so far and here is an extensive look at one of the more important players due to the electoral votes at stake: Hillsborough County, Florida which includes Tampa, home of the Republicans National Convention this year.  Travelers advisory warning: this write-up is full of a lot of great data.  But the author veers off into wholly inaccurate information and some partisan opinion writing when it comes to Obama’s organizational operation in the state.  It’s unfortunate because these inaccuracies and biased rhetoric mar what is otherwise a great look at an all-important Battleground County:

In 2008, Hillsborough became the only Florida county that had backed Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 to flip to Barack Obama. A surge of minority voters, young people, and independents helped Obama wring 68,000 more votes out of Hillsborough than John Kerry had, propelling him to a 7-point victory over Republican nominee John McCain in the county. How closely divided is Hillsborough? Of the 1.95 million votes cast in presidential elections since 1992, Republican nominees won only about 14,000 more than Democratic nominees. The outcome in the Tampa Bay market has run within 2 percentage points of the statewide result in every presidential election since 1992. The campaign here will pit Obama’s organizational power and his capacity to take advantage of the region’s shifting demographics against Romney’s message of fiscal prudence, backed by the state’s all-powerful GOP establishment, and played against the backdrop of a still-sputtering local economy.

How South Florida’s eastern and western counties achieved their ideological split

Liberal Northeasterners headed south on I-95 to Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, turning South Florida into a Democratic stronghold, while folks from Michigan and Ohio took I-75 to Florida’s west coast. The influx bestowed on Hillsborough County a Midwestern sensibility that’s more practical than ideological.

Fiscal conservatism in the county

In one obvious sign of the county’s penny-pinching mind-set, tea party activists help lead a successful battle in 2010 against a 1-cent increase in the sales tax to pay for light rail and other transportation projects in the county. The Democratic nominee for governor that year, Alex Sink, hailed from Hillsborough County but won here by only 10,000 votes. That slim margin of victory helped Republican Rick Scott, a former corporate executive who promised to create 700,000 jobs in seven years, narrowly win statewide.

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Battleground Counties: Washington County, Pennsylvania

Washington County, Pennsylvania voted Democrat in Presidential races for nearly four decades until the 2008 election. Although Barack Obama carried the state by 11%, John McCain won Washington County county by 4%. This is a county that should be ripe for Obama with unemployment far below the national average at 6.7% while ranking third in the nation in job growth. But 40% of the job growth is due to the drilling in the Marcellus Shale and Washington County was built on this one issue: coal. Mining the Marcellus Shale has made this county a mini-Boom Town and energy policy is on the tips of everyone’s tongue in this area. Washington County sits in the very heart of this shale and the Obama Administrations policy towards coal has been antagonistic rather than accommodating due to environmental concerns. the original shift to Republican of this county was over energy policies Obama articulated towards coal and natural gas drilling during the last election. This antagonism over the last three years has made the Obama Administration increasingly unpopular among many residents although concerns over the environmental impact of such drilling still holds sway with many voters. Voters in this region are considered “rural voters” who Obama lost by 8% nationwide to John McCain in 2008. Today polling shows President Obama losing this segment by 20%. Meaningful out-performance of that nature can turn the 2008 11% win into a Battleground very quickly.

You can watch the entire video at the link:

http://video.foxnews.com/v/1690864289001/

Battleground Target: Iowa

As the first in the country caucus, Iowa gets a disproportionate amount of attention ahead of its kick-off to election season.  Once completed, Iowa normally fades into the background as states with greater electoral counts gain prominence among the campaigns and media.  That is not the case this go-around due to the narrow number of states that will likely determine this year’s President, of which, Iowa is one.  It should see increased attention now that it’s neighbor to the north, Wisconsin, joined the Battlegrounds, ensuring greater attention to this region by both campaigns. The Mitt Romney bus tour heads to Iowa today with much anticipation from a state populated with some of the most politically active voters in the country:

Mitt Romney’s next target in Iowa is the Mississippi River Valley — battleground territory in the Hawkeye State important to both presidential campaigns. The GOP presidential candidate will make two stops in crucial swing-state Iowa Monday – a private event in Dubuque and a public speech in Davenport. Virtually deadlocked in national polling with President Barack Obama, Romney is barnstorming states in the upper Midwest, trying to pressure the Democrat in the heart of places where the Republicans think his challenges lie. Part of a Romney success strategy here is to win over Iowans who lifted Rick Santorum to a win in the caucuses. (Romney finished just 34 votes behind.) Santorum said in a CNN interview today that he’s not interested in a post in a Romney cabinet, and he refused to walk back some of the criticism he leveled in Iowa that Romney lacks authenticity. But on Saturday at a Faith & Freedom Coalition event in Washington, D.C. said: “I’ve talked to Governor Romney, and I have no doubt – and I mean this in all sincerity – I have no doubt he understands the centrality of family. He understands the importance of family for our culture, for our economy, and for our future.”

What and where:

After campaigning in Wisconsin Monday morning, Romney will board a boat in Dubuque for an afternoon trip along the Mississippi River with Iowans who volunteered for his campaign. Then Romney’s campaign bus heads south to a riverside park in downtown Davenport. At 5:10 p.m. Monday, he will speak at the Le Claire Park band shell. It’s open to the public; doors open at 3 p.m. Monday will be Romney’s third visit to the Hawkeye State since the caucuses. He flew to Des Moines on May 15 to speak about national debt, and spoke about the economy in Council Bluffs on June 8. The Dubuque event, on a replica of a century-old steamboat, will be open to 50 volunteers who made 300 calls for Romney on Saturday, campaign aides said.

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The Battle for Wisconsin

Craig Gilbert, the authority on Wisconsin politics, provides a statewide voting breakdown of the Wisconsin recall results and identifies the areas likely to decide the 2012 Presidential race for the Badger State:

In geographic terms, the big story of the state’s June 5 election was Walker’s striking performance outside the Milwaukee and Madison media markets. In demographic terms, it was Walker’s rural landslide. Is what happened “out-state” a warning sign for Democrats — and President Obama — in November?

No matter how huge their margins in Milwaukee and Dane counties, Democrats can’t win statewide if their geographic base is as narrow as it was June 5, when Tom Barrett won only 12 of 72 counties and only six outside the state’s southern tier. Much of the swing vote in Wisconsin can be found outside the Madison and Milwaukee TV markets, which contain the state’s most partisan Democratic counties (Milwaukee, Dane) and most partisan Republican counties (Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee).

  • Wausau TV market contains 11 counties in north central Wisconsin. Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle won the Wausau market by 11 points in 2006. Democrat Barack Obama won it by 12 in 2008. Then Republican Walker won it by 12 points in 2010 and by 18 points in 2012.
  • Green Bay market. Obama carried it by seven points in 2008 and Walker carried it by 23 in 2012.
  • La Crosse-Eau Claire market. Obama carried it by 19 points in 2008 and Walker carried it by nine points in 2012.

Many of the same out-state counties Obama carried by single or double digits in 2008, Walker ran away with in 2012. (To take just one example, Obama won Kewaunee County by 11 points in ’08; Walker won it by 29 on June 5).

The fact that Walker won them by such unusual margins is clearly an encouraging sign for Republicans in November. By the same token, Walker’s performance in some areas of outstate Wisconsin was so exceptional it may be hard for other Republicans to duplicate.

The changing geographic split in Wisconsin:

Wisconsin has long had an East-West partisan divide, with Republicans stronger in the East (excluding Milwaukee) and Democrats stronger in the West. But this race featured a North-South divide as well, thanks in part to what happened with rural voters.

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The Battle for Michigan

A couple months ago few people put Michigan in the Battleground territory except Mitt Romney, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and this blog. Recent polls demonstrate Obama’s narrowing lead and weakness in suburbs raising GOP hopes in the Great Lakes State. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at Michigan ahead of the Romney bus tour visit on Monday:

Barack Obama breezed to victory in Michigan in 2008 and, until recently, his bailout of the state’s auto industry looked to have armored him well for November. But signs of trouble are brewing in the Great Lakes State. If they grow, they would signal broader problems for the president in the industrial Midwest. Across Michigan, but particularly in several key counties that hug Detroit,veteran GOP strategists point to evidence of ebbing support for the president among independents, despite an improving economy egged on by the booming car sector.

Ramping up and hitting the ground running:

Conservative groups from outside the state are now showering Michigan with television ads, at a cost already of around $3 million, about three-quarters of what the campaign of Republican Sen. John McCain spent here during all of 2008. Their aim is to soften the ground for Mr. Obama’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney, whose own campaign is now staffing up in the state. Recent polls vary widely but generally point to a narrowing lead for Mr. Obama.

Risks to Obama:

An Obama loss in Michigan could imperil the president’s path to victory in the Electoral College, potentially requiring him to win one of the two hardest-fought states, Ohio and Florida. Heading into the fall, signs of weakness in the industrial belt also would require the Obama campaign to pour far more manpower and resources than planned into other states, such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, that Democrats have held in all of the last five presidential campaigns. “If Barack Obama can’t win Michigan, he can’t win the White House,” said Katie Gage, a longtime Michigan political operative and Mr. Romney’s deputy campaign manager. “We will compete there aggressively.”

Economy out front:

With the election likely to hinge on voter sentiment toward the economy, state job numbers released Friday by the federal government offered a mixed picture of the region’s economic health. Ohio gained 19,000 jobs last month and saw its jobless rate drop to 7.3%. But Michigan lost 5,000 jobs and saw its unemployment rate tick up to 8.5%, slightly higher than the U.S. average. Both the campaign and Michigan GOP lawmakers cite several factors that appear to be giving Mr. Romney a boost. The unemployment rate, which topped 14% in the summer of 2009, has eased markedly under Gov. Rick Snyder, a former-businessman-turned-politician. That has allowed Republicans to argue that voters should trust Mr. Romney, who carries a similar resume.

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Scenes From the Bus Tour: New Hampshire

Sarah Wheaton in the New York Times takes a look at the bus tour kick-off in New Hampshire:

Mitt Romney kicked off a five-day bus tour, an ambitious barnstormer through small-town America that was billed as an effort to introduce Mr. Romney to a new set of voters. And the first two events, including an ice cream social on the village green here, kept him solidly in his comfort zone. The scenery and theatrics of the first day of the bus trip set the tone the campaign hopes to convey over the coming days. After a live bluegrass show, with bales of hay in the background, Senator Kelly Ayotte introduced Mr. Romney as his campaign bus pulled up alongside the crowd on the Scamman Farm in Stratham. The music then switched from a Coplandesque anthem to Mr. Romney’s rock theme, “Born Free,” as he and his wife, Ann, traversed a catwalk to the stage, encircled by the audience. In some ways, the first day’s events seemed more of a warm-up than a representative example of the tour’s stated goals. At the tour’s outset, Mr. Romney’s strategist said it would take the candidate to places that are “not necessarily traditional campaign stops.” That could, of course, rule out the entire state of New Hampshire, given its prominent role in the primary process.

Reaching out for undecideds:

The campaign also said the crowds would not necessarily be packed with supporters. But people who turned out invariably had Romney stickers and said they had received tickets from the campaign or from other Republican connections. And some of them drove up from Massachusetts. That said, the two New Hampshire stops are in two of the three counties Mr. Obama won by the smallest margins in 2008: Rockingham County (Stratham), which Mr. Obama took by one percentage point, and Hillsborough County (Milford), which he won by three. Doug Rutt was in the crowd because Nancy Hubert Real Estate, where he is an agent, is across the street from the Milford Oval. Even after Mr. Romney’s speech, he remained undecided. “I’ve been pretty disappointed in all the candidates,” said Mr. Rutt, 64, who lives in nearby Brookline. “Nobody seems to have a good idea.” A registered independent, Mr. Rutt voted for Republicans until 2008, when he chose Mr. Obama. He called the economy’s improvement “anemic.” However, he does not want to see Mr. Romney return to George W. Bush’s economic policies by loosening banking regulations.

Death of Three Virginia Battleground Counties

Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun Counties comprise Northern Virginia. The incredible expansion of the Federal government has disproportionately benefited this region more than anywhere in America.  As such, the typical suburban voters whose politics usually reflecting the ebb and flow of election outcomes are not consistent with the government-centric Northern Virginia suburbs.  The author of the linked piece pushes the debunked “demography is destiny” trope without mentioning the region’s massive Federal subsidy through the government expansion. The growing minority and educated white influx is reflective of the skilled government jobs, rather than more typical immigration patterns and pressures like in the Southwest or Florida. But regardless of the driver behind these moves, the results are the same — this is a solidly Democrat area in the most populous region in the state:

The affluent and diverse suburbs of northern Virginia swung decisively toward Obama in 2008, providing most of his margin of victory in a state that hadn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. Although Obama is not assured of another victory in the Commonwealth, Romney probably won’t win by rolling back Obama’s gains in the D.C. suburbs. Last cycle’s consummate swing region is likely to again vote decisively for Obama in 2012, and Romney will need to look elsewhere for big gains in Virginia.

Since 2000, the demographic composition of the region and the national Democratic coalition changed dramatically. According to the 2010 census, Prince William and Loudoun counties grew by 43 and 84 percent respectively, with minority groups representing a disproportionate share of new residents. Today, whites make up just 56 percent of residents in northern Virginia.

Over this period, Democrats accelerated big gains among college-educated white voters.In Fairfax County, Democrats gained ground in every election since 1980, with Kerry becoming the first Democrat to win since LBJ.

Year Dem % Year Dem %
2008
2004
2000
1996
60.12
53.25
47.49
46.58
1992
1988
1984
1980
41.58
38.28
36.83
30.76

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Romney Bus Tours Battleground Counties

Even though we pointed out that the bus tour travels through all states won by Obama (complete schedule here), ABC drilled down a little further and identified that many of the stops were in all-important Battleground Counties — one of our favorite topics:

In New Hampshire:

Romney visits the towns of Stratham and Milford. Stratham is located in Rockingham County, in the southeastern most portion of the state. Barack Obama narrowly carried Rockingham in 2008, defeating Sen.  John McCain by about 1 percentage point. Milford is located in Hillsborough County, another blue county in 2008.  Obama carried this one by a margin of about 3 percentage points.

In Pennsylvania:

Weatherly and Quakertown are located in Carbon County and Bucks County, respectively, two counties that went blue the last time around. Obama won Carbon County by roughly 2 percentage points and carried Bucks County by about 9.

In Ohio there are no pure Battleground Counties on the tour. Brunswick in is red Medina County (McCain: 53, Obama: 45) but the town is right on the border of Cuyahoga County that Obama carried 69-30 thanks to strong city support in Cleveland.  Newark is in red Licking County (McCain 57-41), but its neighboring county is Franklin County that Obama carried 60-39. Troy is in lightly populated Miami County that McCain carried decisively (63-35 ) but its adjoining county is the far more populous Montgomery County that Obama won 53-46.

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Romney Bus Tour: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin

Wisconsin … Boom! (Check out the complete schedule here.)

Mitt Romney announced the “Every Town Counts” bus tour to begin this Friday.  Exact dates for campaign stops now available:  June 15, Stratham New Hampshire; June 16, Pennsylvania; June 17, Ohio; June 18, Iowa; June 18, Wisconsin; June 19, Michigan. Nice to see Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on the list:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to stop in Wisconsin next week as part of a five-day bus tour. Romney’s campaign announced the bus tour and the Wisconsin stop on June 18 but did not release the exact location or other details. Romney is scheduled to be in Iowa on the same day. The bus tour is billed as a chance for Romney to meet with families and business owners in small towns across six states. The tour begins Friday in New Hampshire with other stops planned in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. The Wisconsin visit will mark the first time Romney has been in the state since winning the primary in April. It comes less than two weeks after Republican Gov. Scott Walker won a recall election.

Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania? — playing on your opponent’s turf is a sure sign of strength.  Nice to see Romney flex his muscles.

Obama won all six states in 2008, but Republicans think Romney has a shot at taking them back this year. Romney’s aides hope the bus tour, which will include a mix of outdoor retail campaign stops – as well as a new, rebranded campaign bus – will provide a jolt to his efforts in a slew of Midwestern states, including critical Ohio.

Update: More on Ohio:

Romney is slated to appear at the [Newark] Town Square in front of the county courthouse Sunday afternoon. An exact time has not been set for the public event. The Licking County rally is sandwiched between a 9 a.m. Father’s Day Pancake Breakfast at Mapleside Farms in Brunswick, Ohio, and an evening gathering at K’s Hamburger Shop in Troy.  The three Ohio stops follow a private fund-raiser Wednesday evening in Cincinnati for the former Massachusetts governor.  And the pair of Romney visits to Ohio bracket a campaign stop planned by President Barack Obama to Cuyahoga Community College Recreation Center in Cleveland on Thursday.

The Battle for Virginia

In today’s must read, the LA Times takes an in-depth look at one of the “ground zero” states in this year’s election: Virginia. If one candidate wins both Ohio and Virginia they almost certainly win the election.

A key fact in the piece about the state that cannot be overstated: “Northern Virginia is much wealthier than the rest of the state. It has much more of a connection to Washington, and so it’s unlike any other part of the country.” This is immeasurably important because when much of the country complains of stimulus spending and the incredible expansion of government, it is this geographic area that is THE beneficiary of the spending and expansion. Basically this is where all your money goes. They love Obama and can’t understand why the rest of the country isn’t doing as well as they are. This is the crux of the increasing difficulty for Republicans in the densely populated areas of Northern Virginia.

Nearly the entire article is fantastic so I encourage you to read the whole thing (as a wise man often says). Other than a brief foray into the “demography is destiny” reason for future Democrat dominance (that has been debunked many times) this article is chock full of most everything you want to know about possibly the key state in this election:

President Obama’s reelection depends heavily on young and minority voters. Candidate Obama capitalized on demographic shifts four years ago, mobilizing an army of newly registered voters and becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the Old Dominion since 1964. If Obama took Virginia again, he could afford to lose Ohio and Florida, larger swing states he also won last time. Romney, on the other hand, will find it very hard to get to 270 electoral votes if he can’t claim Virginia. “Virginia holds the keys to the kingdom,” said Rick Wiley, the Republican National Committee political director, who is working closely with the Romney campaign. Obama has a small lead in recent statewide polling, but Democrats and Republicans expect a close finish. Both sides say Virginia will ultimately be won or lost in the far suburbs of the state’s population centers, where women are a prized demographic — and the biggest worry for Republican strategists.

Serve and volley:

Romney made a campaign stop in northern Virginia last month for an event with female business owners. The Obama campaign responded when First Lady Michelle Obama gave a pep talk last week to campaign workers in Prince William County, an outer suburb that is a bellwether this year. The event revolved heavily around women’s issues and touched on a controversial Republican proposal in the Virginia Legislature that would have required women to obtain a transvaginal ultrasound before getting an abortion.

Control what you can control:

The unknown in 2012: the course of the economy. Virginia’s unemployment rate, at 5.6%, is the lowest of the 20 most-populous states. Yet parts of Virginia that had been booming and trending Democratic — including the Washington exurbs — are still hurting from the recession, which could reduce enthusiasm for Obama.

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The Battle for Colorado

The Denver Post looks at what is going on with Colorado‘s new found prominence as a Battleground:

Several dynamics this year make the Centennial State even more competitive [than 2008]— and critical to winning the White House. Unlike 2008 there are fewer states this time around that are truly up for grabs. Obama and Mitt Romney are eyeing Colorado’s nine electoral votes — in combination with other Western states such as Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona — to give them the win. The campaigns use a combination of history, demographics and polling to determine which states are solidly or leaning red or blue and which states are considered tossups. From there, it’s a matter of doing the math — finding ways to combine victories in winnable states to get the candidate to 270 electoral votes, the total needed to win the presidency.

Polls show the race is a dead heat:

A poll of 600 Coloradans by Purple Strategies found 48 percent favored Obama and 46 percent favored Romney. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points. A Rasmussen Reports poll of 500 likely voters showed both candidates with 45 percent, while 6 percent preferred another candidate and 5 percent were undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

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