Are PA and MN Slipping Away from Obama? (Updated)
Maybe. Monday afternoon, ABC moved both from "safe Obama to "lean Obama."
With one week to go, states that were once considered Obama strongholds now look less solid. Republican groups are putting resources into Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Team Obama brushes off these incursions as wishful thinking by Republicans, but noticeably they are putting money and muscle into both states. Minnesota has been added to Bill Clinton’s schedule. And, Obama campaign officials admitted that they will once again start running ads in Pennsylvania.
VP Joe Biden is spending time in Pennsylvania this week as well, and the Obama campaign is going up with ads there.
Of the two, I would rate PA as the better GOP pickup opportunity. Senate candidate Tom Smith is running a strong race there against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. History suggests that Smith can win, and Pennsylvania has been trending red: Republicans now control most major state offices and a heavy majority of the state's counties. Obama has tended to run weaker there than most blue states, and ObamaCare, for which Casey voted, is not popular in the Keystone State. A Smith win or strong showing can help the top of the GOP ticket.
MN, meanwhile, last voted Republican at the top of the ticket in 1972. The fact that it's shaking even a little bit loose from Obama suggests that he is in major trouble and that his firewall is on fire. The Obama campaign has previously claimed that four states are safe, which are no longer safe: Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
Together, PA and MN represent 30 electoral votes. They're worth the Republicans taking a shot at, if only to force the Obama campaign into spending more time and money to keep them.
Update: The Obama campaign just threw an additional $650,000 at keeping "safe" Pennsylvania.