Yes, Minnesota is in Play
The Associated Press reports that the Romney/Ryan campaign is running its first advertisements in Minnesota this weekend. The Obama campaign has apparently dismissed the move as a tactic designed to create media coverage. However, the gossip among political pundits for weeks since the parties' conventions has been that Minnesota is a potential blue-state pickup for Romney, who still trails in the state but only by single digits.
A poll by Rasmussen Reports earlier this week showed Obama leading Romney 51% to 46%, just outside the poll's margin of 4.5 percent. Other polls show a wider lead for Obama, and even in Rasmussen's poll Obama had crossed the crucial 50% mark, albeit with "leaners" included. Republicans are lagging badly in the state's Senate race, with Democrat incumbent Amy Klobuchar widening a large lead over challenger Kurt Bills.
Some polls, however, have shown Obama well below the 50% mark in the state, with a poll by MNB research showing Obama leading by only 4 points, 47% to 43%, and a poll by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune showing Obama with a healthier 48% to 40% lead, but still below the halfway mark. Ross Perot's recent endorsement of Romney, in a state where Perot's Reform Party won its only election in 1998, could affect the race. A state referendum upholding traditional marriage could also draw more socially conservative voters to the polls.
There is also an added benefit to advertising in certain Minnesota media markets, which is that advertising may also be seen by voters in the swing states to the south and east, namely Iowa and Wisconsin. Indeed, there are anecdotal reports of some advertising already airing in the state's border regions.
Whatever the Romney campaign has in mind, the odds are still against a Minnesota win--but it is certainly possible.