President Obama and Mitt Romney are now tied in the critical battleground state of Wisconsin. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Wisconsin Voters shows the president and his Republican challenger each earning 49% support. One percent (1%) likes another candidate, and two percent (2%) are undecided. Ninety-six percent (96%) of Badger State voters say they are sure to vote in this election. Romney leads 51% to 47% among these voters. Among the 90% who say they’ve already made up their minds whom they will vote for, it’s Romney 51%, Obama 48%.
If those undecideds break away from the incumbent -- which would follow the historical pattern, particularly in a poor economy -- well, could the GOP paint Wisconsin red again? Lest you think this is an outlier, Marquette's last poll showed the race basically knotted, and that was before the very recent public opinion shift towards Romney. Joe Biden is in the state today, Obama's headed there soon, Bill Clinton was just in town, and a pro-Obama Super PAC is firing up a new ad buy. They're trying to counter the momentum in the race and mitigate this piece of dreadful local economic news:
As its defense business slows, Oshkosh Corp. said Thursday it will lay off 450 production employees in January. The state's largest manufacturer said the layoffs will occur over a three-week period beginning Jan. 11. If laid-off employees want to pursue other employment, the company said, it will help them find it. The company also said it was considering asking for early voluntary retirements.
Meanwhile, this nugget is tantalizing:
Republican Mitt Romney is placing television ads in Minnesota, a move that pushes his presidential campaign into a state Democrats have held for more than three decades. Republicans and Democrats who track campaign spending confirmed late Thursday that Romney will begin running ads in Minnesota over the weekend. The investment is described as a small buy that Democrats suggest is simply intended to generate media coverage and force President Barack Obama’s campaign to invest there as well. Romney’s campaign would not comment on its advertising strategy.
Recent polling gives Obama a stable high-single-digit lead in Gopherland, so what's going on here? Is the state really in play? As I wrote over at HotAir's new Green Room, this move is almost certainly about Minnesota's media markets that bleed into the western areas of Wisconsin:
This must be a play for Western Wisconsin, right? If they were simply looking to build an “expand the map” narrative or mess with Team Obama’s heads, you’d think Michigan and/or Pennsylvania would be more obvious choices.
Out of curiosity, is Wisconsin on the Romney/Ryan travel schedule any time soon? Indeed. Monday. For what it's worth, Rasmussen again has the race at 50/47 for Mitt, with the Republican ahead 50-46 in swing states. How about Gallup? Romney by five, 51/46. On the other hand, CNN has Obama +4 in crucial Ohio. (Their polling also has The One leading by eight in New Hampshire, while everyone has the race tied or Romney slightly out front). The key to Obama's Ohio lead in the CNN survey? Independents, who side with the president by five points. At least on the indie stat, this data point appears to be an outlier. Nervous either way.
UPDATE - Whoa. Second look at Minnesota?
Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom says he believes race in MN is tied, which is why they're going up with ads in Minneapolis.— Garrett Haake (@GarrettNBCNews) October 26, 2012
Obama is going on the air in MN, because as political scientists have told you, debates don't matter.— daveweigel (@daveweigel) October 26, 2012