The murder of our ambassador and three other Americans in Libya, and the apparent failure to respond to cries for rescue, undercuts the Obama narrative that the Muslim world is peaceful and friendly now that he is president. Turmoil and chaos abroad does not work in favor of an incumbent president.
On economic issues, Germano-Scandinavian America is not as liberal as many analysts think. Iowans like to boast that their state has the nation's lowest rate of credit card debt.
In Wisconsin, voters in June decisively rejected the public employee unions' all-out drive to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker. And Minnesotans in 2010 gave Republicans big gains in the state legislature and nearly elected as governor an inept Republican over a free-spending and well-known Democrat.
Previous presidents who have been re-elected have widened the electoral map by advancing policies that appealed to electoral blocs that they didn't carry before.
Ronald Reagan gathered in the votes of white Southerners and evangelical Protestants who went heavily for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and to a considerable extent stuck with him in 1980.
Bill Clinton appealed to the affluent suburbs by supporting welfare reform, talking up anti-crime legislation and proposing small but appealing initiatives like school uniforms.
Barack Obama and his campaign strategists did not take a similar course. The president did not change policies after his party was rebuked in the off-year elections, as Clinton did.
Obama campaign strategy has accordingly concentrated on holding states he carried in 2008 rather than seeking new electoral ground.
Obama's strategists conceded Indiana early on and North Carolina more recently. Now Florida, Virginia and Colorado seem headed to Romney, and Germano-Scandinavian America is up for grabs. Minnesota and Pennsylvania suddenly have come into play.
Team Obama gambled on reassembling the 2008 his coalition despite 2010. Maybe a losing bet.