Earlier today, my colleague, Tony Lee, reported on a new poll from Oregon showing Obama up just six points over Mitt Romney. Surprisingly, Obama’s support was only 47%, well below the 50% threshold deemed safe for incumbents. To say that Oregon wasn’t expected to be competitive is a massive understatement. Obama won the state by 17 points in 2008. While he is certainly favored to win the state this year, his apparent struggles there are a sign of a campaign falling apart in the home stretch.
With one week to go, presidential campaigns usually narrow down to a small handful of states. Candidates focus their time and resources on fewer battlegrounds to gain a decisive edge. This year, however, the battlefield seems to be expanding. Moreover, it’s expanding in a way that isn’t favorable to Obama.
I’ve often noted that whichever states become competitive at the end of a campaign are a good indication on the overall trends of the election. Four years ago, traditionally Republican states were competitive, signaling that Obama had strong momentum. This year, however, it’s traditionally Democrat states that are now competitive. Obama has been forced to make significant ad buys in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Just a month ago, all three were considered “safe” Obama states.
But, Obama’s already been running ads in Oregon for weeks. This mostly had to do with potential complications from the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, and a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana. Romney hasn’t run any ads. Yet, Obama is still only at 47%, even though he’s had the airwaves to himself.
Back during the Vice-Presidential debate I sent the following tweet:
If Obama/Biden keep up this trend we’ll be obsessing over polling in Oregon in two weeks. #VPDebate
– Mike Flynn (@Flynn1776) October 12, 2012
No, I didn’t have a crystal ball. But, I could see that Biden had not adequately stemmed the damage from Obama’s disastrous first debate. The trend was clearly moving towards Romney. Romney’s increasing advantage with Independents would start to show up, even in blue states. Oregon is among the weakest of the Democrats’ blue wall of support.
Again, I think Obama still has the edge in Oregon, and I doubt that Romney will really compete there. Romney is suffering almost an embarrassment of riches. So many states no one expected are now competitive that even a cash-rich campaign like his has to make careful choices.
That said, if so many blue states are looking competitive, Obama’s campaign is in deep trouble. If we are talking about Oregon one week from the election, its becoming a safer bet that Obama will lose next week.