Romney's Road Runs Through Wisconsin
With a slim lead in national polls, the Romney campaign and its allies are beginning to assert their financial advantage through ad buys in the nine States that will decide the Presidential election. While Team Obama is shifting some money from Wisconsin to other key States (like Nevada), Romney is spending more in Wisconsin (especially in the Fox River Valley).
So what does the Romney campaign think it knows that the Obama campaign doesn't?
It's simple. Three weeks before the election, if Romney can carry Wisconsin like Scott Walker did in June, he'll probably be the next President.
As of this writing, Obama appears to have a narrow lead over Romney in electoral votes (201 to 191). The candidate who gets to 270 wins.
So how does Romney get the additional 79 electoral votes that gets him to the magic 270?
First, he absolutely has to carry Florida (29 votes) and North Carolina (15 votes). The good news for Romney is that he appears to have pulled away in North Carolina and is leading in Florida. This gets him to 235.
Obviously, the clearest path to victory for Romney is to carry Ohio (18 votes) and then win Virginia (13 votes) and Colorado (9 votes). While both of these latter States are close, it appears that momentum is currently on Romney's side. As to Ohio, the Romney campaign appears to be surging - but more work needs to be done.
Assuming that Romney carries Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia, it's still very possible for him to win without Ohio - it's just a little more complicated.
Under this scenario, Romney still needs 13 electoral votes. To this end, Wisconsin is the biggest remaining prize with 10 votes. Win Wisconsin and either Nevada (6 votes) or Iowa (6 votes) or New Hampshire (4 votes) and the election is over.
For purposes of this analysis, I'm assuming that Obama will hold both Michigan (16 votes) and Pennsylvania (20 votes). If the President loses either one of these, he's toast. Of the two States, Pennsylvania appears to be the most likely for an upset.
The bottom line? Wisconsin should be front and center over the next three weeks. The latest polls suggest that Romney is slightly behind - but closing. If he can exploit the "intensity gap" and turn out GOP supporters in large numbers (like Governor Walker did), he can certainly spring a mild upset and carry Wisconsin.
And if Romney carries Wisconsin, his road to the White House becomes a lot more direct.