Thursday, June 7, 2012

Is Minnesota in Play for Romney?

From: Real Clear Politics

For four decades, Minnesota has been fool's gold to every Republican White House hopeful who saw an opportunity there to steal a win in the Democratic-leaning state. But with a still fluid 2012 electoral map, both sides are eyeing the North Star State, known as much for its political quirkiness as for its progressive tradition.

A Republican presidential nominee has not won Minnesota since Richard Nixon pulled off the feat in 1972, making the state the longest-running GOP bust in the nation.

Still, Minnesota has been a hard-fought battleground in the last three presidential cycles. George W. Bush came within 2.4 percentage points of winning there in 2000 and within 3.5 points of taking it in 2004. And in 2008, the Republican Party once again had high hopes for Minnesota. John McCain accepted the party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul and both he and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin campaigned in the state that fall, but Barack Obama ended up winning it by a comfortable 10 points.

The current RealClearPolitics polling average has the president leading there by the same margin, but public surveys have been sporadic.

While news organizations have more typically placed Minnesota in the “safely Democratic” column this year, national Republicans and Democrats are positioning themselves to unleash full-bore efforts, if it looks like such a push will be needed and could affect the results.

Obama’s operation in Minnesota is being helmed by Jeff Blodgett, who managed all three of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone’s Senate campaigns there, as well as Obama’s 2008 effort in the state. National Democratic strategists privately contend that they do not expect Minnesota to be in play for Romney, but the Obama campaign has nonetheless dispatched field workers to the state.

And when Obama campaign manager Jim Messina released his team’s view of the current political map on Monday, Minnesota was listed as a “lean-Democratic” state -- in the same category as Nevada, Michigan, and Pennsylvania -- rather than one that was considered safely in Obama’s column.

Obama made an appearance in Minnesota on Friday, speaking in Golden Valley on a day when the Labor Department released gloomy economic news that underscored the challenges he faces nationwide.

Minnesota Democrats say they are taking nothing for granted in November, but they also note several reasons to feel confident about the president’s chances.

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