Guy Benson

First came the eleventh hour ad buys from both sides, now a possible visit from at least one member of the GOP ticket?
 

A senior Republican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to disclose private deliberations, said Sunday that the Romney team was seriously discussing sending Romney, Ryan or both to Minnesota during the final week. The state hasn’t gone Republican in the presidential race since 1972, but recent polling shows a tighter race there than most anticipated. In a flashback to the 2008 race, Obama’s campaign announced that Biden will campaign Thursday in Pennsylvania, reprising a visit to his hometown of Scranton that he made during the final week four years ago. Pennsylvania, too, has been Democratic territory in recent years, but Romney has continued to contest the state with an advertising assist from the Republican Party.


The Pennsylvania nugget is interesting, but that could just be good 'ole sentimental Joe heading back to his Scranton roots in the waning days -- just as he did in 2008, when the state wasn't remotely in play.  As for the Minnesota piece of the puzzle, I'm tempted to chalk it up to Team Romney aiming to attract attention in media markets that spill over into western areas of Wisconsin. That's probably all this is, honestly.  Then again, the Minneapolis Star Tribune's poll over the weekend was rather intriguing:
 

As the presidential race tightens across the country, a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found that it is narrowing here as well, with President Obama holding a 3-point lead and Republican Mitt Romney making gains in the state. The poll shows Obama with support from 47 percent of likely voters and Romney earning backing from 44 percent -- a lead within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Last month, Obama had an 8-percentage point advantage in the Minnesota Poll. Romney has apparently cut into the Democrat's advantage among women since then and picked up support from Minnesotans who were previously undecided or said they would vote for a third-party candidate.  


Ed Morrissey -- a Minnesotan -- says that the Trib's polls are notoriously left-leaning, which folds another wrinkle into the mix.  Does Romney legitimately have a shot in the land of 10,000 lakes?  I'm highly, highly skeptical, but Team Obama isn't buying airtime up there for no reason.  Just south of Minnesota lies Iowa, a bona fide battleground state this year.  Yesterday we dealt with the Des Moines Register's eyebrow-raising endorsement of Mitt Romney, the first Republican the paper has endorsed for president since the early 1970s.  Stephanie Cutter's sneering response notwithstanding, walking political encyclopedia Michael Barone argues the DMR's nod is a rare case of a media endorsement actually having an impact:
 

But occasionally there comes an editorial page stance that matters. The Des Moines Register has endorsed Mitt Romney. The Register is not quite the statewide paper that it once was, but it is still clearly the most prominent paper in a state that is closely divided and has 6 critical electoral votes. The endorsement editorial is very much worth reading, because it tends to appeal to the high-minded affluent voters that can be found in large numbers on the west side of Des Moines and in its west side suburbs in Polk County and fast-growing Dallas County to the west. (Iowa was admitted to the Union in 1846, when the president was James K. Polk and the vice president was a Philadelphia banker named George M. Dallas, after whom Dallas, Texas, was also named.) The Register endorsed mostly Republicans from 1912 to 1960; it endorsed Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey in 1964 and 1968 and Richard Nixon in 1972; it has endorsed Democrats in every election since up until now. This is in line with a lot of editorial pages over the last century. They were Republican, but sort of thoughtful, up through the 1960s, and Democratic, but sort of thoughtful, from the 1970s on.


Barone notes that the Register isn't quite the statewide juggernaut that it once was, but Team Romney isn't concerned.  Why?  Because Mitt just swept all four major newspaper endorsements in Iowa -- a state Obama carried by nearly ten points in 2008.  As National Review reports, "On the heels of the Des Moines Register’s endorsement, Mitt Romney snagged endorsements today from the three other major Iowa papers: the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the Quad City Times, and the Sioux City Journal."  With the race neck-and-neck, could these economy and debt-based endorsements help tip the balance?  Finally, in Ohio, PPP says Obama has "turned the corner" and leads by four in their latest poll.  I broke down the myriad problems with the Democratic poll last night over at HotAir's "green room" (also be sure to check out Ed's take down of the WaPo outlier poll showing Obama up in Virginia).  Another Ohio poll out Saturday night showed a tie.  I'm not sure what to make of the seemingly disparate national trends vs. some Buckeye State surveys, but this might be a good place to start in terms of reconciling things.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography