Earlier today, the Romney campaign announced it was buying ad time in Minnesota. Since the state has never been considered a swing state, lefty pundits immediately dismissed the buy as a bluff. Romney, they scoffed, was simply trying to create the impression that the campaign battlefield was expanding, even into indigo blue states like Minnesota. That notion was put to rest, however, when the Obama campaign announced this afternoon that it too was buying ad time in the state. Something is definitely going on.
Last week there were reports that Obama had bought radio ad time in the Iron Range area of Minnesota, a strongly Democrat area. In addition, Jill Biden recently attended a rally in Minnesota. It seemed like the campaign was heating up there. Then earlier this week, Rasmussen published a poll finding a 5-point race in Minnesota. Obama led Romney, 51-46, just past the critical 50% threshold.
It seems Romney, who has had no activity in the state, is testing the waters to see if he can get any movement. The Obama camp is at least worried enough that they feel they have to meet Romney's offensive play.
And these buys are most definitely a play for Minnesota. Wags on twitter have speculated that these buys are probably just intended to "bleed" into Wisconsin, which is a battleground state. But, a veteran political media buyer tells me that's wrong. The Twin Cities TV market reaches less than 5% of WI's voting age population. The Duluth market reaches even less. These ads are intended for Minnesota voters.
This is not the time for flights of fantasy. With just about a week-and-a-half to go, campaigns will be forced to make very difficult decisions. Resources allocated to one state obviously can't be spent in another. It may seem inconceivable that Romney could make Minnesota competitive, but at least at a basic level, Obama fears he can. It is something they can't discount, so they are buying air-time in the state.
As I've often cautioned, don't believe what campaigns say, believe what they do. If at this critical juncture, both sides are buying air-time in Minnesota, it means both campaigns think it could be competitive. And if this state is competitive, Obama is likely in for a very bad night on November 6th.
Follow me on twitter