In the unremarkable words of our (hopefully soon to be former) Vice President, this is a big f'n deal.
The president's 3-point lead in state is within poll's margin of error.
As the presidential race tightens across the country, a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found that it is narrowing here as well, with President Obama holding a 3-point lead and Republican Mitt Romney making gains in the state.
The poll shows Obama with support from 47 percent of likely voters and Romney earning backing from 44 percent -- a lead within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Last month, Obama had an 8-percentage point advantage in the Minnesota Poll. Romney has apparently cut into the Democrat's advantage among women since then and picked up support from Minnesotans who were previously undecided or said they would vote for a third-party candidate.
Independents, on the other hand, are leaning more toward Obama. Barely a third supported him last month, but that number has grown to 43 percent. Romney's support among independents remains virtually unchanged, with 13 percent of that group remaining undecided.
In an indication of how close the race has become, both campaigns have started airing ads in the state targeting Minnesota and western Wisconsin voters.
The poll was conducted among 800 likely Minnesota voters who were contacted on their land lines or cellphones between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25.
Women, a demographic that both candidates have been chasing in the waning weeks of the election, still favor Obama heavily, with 53 percent of female poll respondents backing the president, compared with 37 percent for Romney. But Romney has narrowed that lead since September's poll and opened up his own gender gap with men, 51 percent of whom favor Romney. Forty percent of men chose Obama.
Obama's greatest base of strength remains Hennepin and Ramsey counties, where the president leads Romney 57 percent to 35 percent. Outside the urban center, those numbers flip. More than half of the respondents in the metro suburbs back Romney. The former Massachusetts governor also has a slight edge over Obama in outstate Minnesota.
Voters younger than 35 still heavily favor Obama, by 53 to 36 percent, although Romney's support among younger voters has grown from 29 percent in September.
Hennepin and Ramsey counties are Minneapolis and St. Paul, respectively. The entire rest of the state favors Romney by a strong majority. That's a gold mine of votes, if the GOTV machine can move quickly enough. The bad news is that Romney doesn't really have any ground game in place in Minnesota. The good news is that there's still 9 days to get it going and grab all the votes that they can there and potentially take away ten Electoral Votes.
Another way to think about it: If Romney takes what he already has in the bag (191 EVs), plus North Carolina (almost certain), plus Florida (not certain, but looking better every day), plus Virginia (cross fingers), and he manages to pull out upsets in Wisconsin (looking possible), Iowa (looking pretty good so far), and Minnesota (a long shot, but this is pretty encouraging news up above), then he's already to 274. He doesn't need Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, Colorado, or Nevada. Yes, that's a big crap-shoot, but if I were he, I'd be beating these states like they owed me money for the next week. They're not going to be affected by any storm, and there's a possibility of pulling something out here. I think he and Ryan have done pretty much all they can in Ohio already, given that half or more of all registered Ohioans have already voted, and they have the crews in place in Virginia and Florida, where it's all about GOTV now, and that's not something a candidate can do much more of at this point in person.
I think if I were in charge, I would be going 24/7 all around the tri-state area of Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, beating the bushes in all of the counties that aren't blue (which is most of them), and get those people to the polls, and then probably get Ann going in Pennsylvania to drum up every Allegheny vote there is to have. Let surrogates worry about Colorado and Nevada for a couple of days. Then, on about Thursday, send Mitt to the Allegheny to show compassion for people hit by the storms, send Ann to Michigan and Paul to New Hampshire. Leave Ohio to take care of itself. Friday, send Mitt to Nevada and Paul to Colorado. Get Mitt out there with Steve Wynn, former Obama supporter, to hit Carson City, Reno, Elko, and everywhere you can in Clark County outside of Las Vegas: Henderson, Enterprise, Bullhead City, etc. Come back east and spend all day Saturday blitzkrieging right across coal country: start in Allentown and go west through Reading, Lancaster, York, Harrisburg, Hershey, up to Altoona, Johnstown, the Pittsburgh suburbs. Then right into Ohio coal country: Stubenville, Dover, Canton. Meanwhile, send Paul right down the I-80 corridor: Stroudsburg, Scranton, Pittston, Wilkes-Barre, Berwick, Muncy, Williamsport, Bellefonte, State College, Clearfield, DuBois, Brookville, Clarion, then up to Erie, and have them both meet in Akron just in time for the evening news. Do a nighttime event together in Cleveland, and then travel overnight to Toledo.
On Sunday, start off in Toledo, bypass Detroit, and work on the "thumb," then up to the UP, where there are a lot of votes to be had in about five counties up there, then take the ferry across and start working south, right through the middle of the state. At the end of the day, fly down to Florida and start working north first thing Monday morning. Send Ryan to talk to the Catholics in Little Havana, then Hollywood, Boca, Lake Worth, West Palm, Jupiter, Port St. Lucie, and Vero Beach. Send Romney over to talk to the rich people in Naples, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Bradenton, and Clearwater. Have them meet in Lakeland for lunch, then send Ryan on to Kissimmee, Cocoa, Canaveral, Titusville, New Smyrna, Ormond Beach, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville. Send Romney to Orlando, Winter Garden, Ocala, Gainesville, Lake City, and Tallahasee. Have Romney and Ryan and Ann and Jena meet in Pensacola for a big blowout at dinner (preferably near NAS Pensacola), then a late visit to Fort Walton.
Go back north for Monday, with Ryan hitting downstate Ohio, Romney hitting New Hampshire, and send Ann out to Nevada. Bring them all home in time for dinner Monday night.
But that's just me. I'm not running the campaign. I just see what I think will work.