Mitt Romney Shifts Focus To Wisconsin As Ohio Slipping Away

Nathan Francis - Author

Nov. 8 2016, Updated 12:35 p.m. ET

Mitt Romney’s campaign selected Paul Ryan as a running mate with the hope of turning Wisconsin into a swing state in the 2012 presidential election, and now it appears that the GOP candidate may need that state.

After the crucial state of Ohio seems to be trending more and more toward Barack Obama, insiders near the Romney campaign have reported that the GOP candidate sees Wisconsin as the more viable option to defeat Obama.

The move signals a bit of desperation on the part of Romney, who seems to have lost the momentum he gained after winning the first presidential debate and has failed to break through in presidential polls in many crucial swing states.

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As The Huffington Post reports, Romney’s campaign would never publicly admit they are shifting focus away from Ohio, but signs point to a change in strategy. Republican sources say that Romney headquarters in Boston is increasingly seeing Wisconsin as a better state to flip red than Ohio, as there has been less campaigning there and voters are not yet overwhelmed by political ads.

Adding to the advantage is the fact that Paul Ryan hails from Wisconsin, as does Republican National Committee chair Reince Preibus.

Romney’s campaign has also announced that it will start buying ads in Minneapolis, which spills over into the Wisconsin market, and the RNC announced it will also buy more than $1 million in ads in Wisconsin between now and Election Day. Romney is also visiting Wisconsin this week, the first time he has been there since Paul Ryan was announced as his running mate.

As The Huffington Post notes, the strategy is risky:

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The political map is difficult, but not totally inconceivable. If Obama were to win Ohio and hold on to Nevada, as polls suggest, Romney would have to win Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and New Hampshire to get to 271 electoral votes. Iowa, in this scenario, could still go to Obama.

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Presidential polls from Wisconsin show Obama up an average of four points, so flipping the state in a matter of a little more than a week would be a formidable task.

“Romney/Ryan don’t have a clear shot at winning Wisconsin, either, and that still looks like it would take some work,” said an anonymous Republican source. “Ryan’s presence on the ticket has made it more conceivable, and Priebus coming from Wisconsin indicates that one major decision-maker probably has better instincts about how to best deploy resources in the state.”

Obama too is confident about his chances in Wisconsin, even with the Paul Ryan advantage for the GOP. In an interview Milwaukee ABC affiliate WISN, Obama said the Democrats’ strategy of encouraging early voting in Wisconsin will give them an edge.

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“Well we’ve got just unbelievable volunteers, unbelievable energy on the ground — not just in Wisconsin but across the country,” Obama said. “My campaigns have always been built from the ground-up, from the grassroots. People knocking on doors, neighborhood team leaders who are going out there, getting to know their neighbors, friends, listening to them. Finding out what’s important to them. Early voting has now started in Wisconsin. … We’re really encouraging all our voters to go out and vote early. Don’t leave it to the last minute.”

Obama officials don’t expect a blowout in Wisconsin by any means. In fact, the Obama campaign’s Wisconsin communications director, Joe Zepecki, said they expect a tight race there.

“What is most surprising about this whole race is how stable it has been, looking at where the battlegrounds are,” he said. “If you looked at what the map looked like six, seven months ago, Wisconsin was on all of them. And now, six, seven months later — it’s all the same states. We expected the whole time that this would be competitive, and that’s why we’ve been doing what we have to.”

Mitt Romney’s push for Wisconsin could likely come down to the wire. Aside from Mitt’s planned visit this week, the GOP campaign is also sending Paul Ryan back to his home state on Wednesday. And perhaps sensing that the state is shifting to become more of a battleground, the Democratic campaign is sending both Barack Obama and Joe Biden to Wisconsin within the next week.


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