With less than three weeks to go until Election Day, one of the surest indicators of who has the momentum (and therefore likely to ultimately prevail) is who is playing offense and who is playing defense. This article in National Journal is especially noteworthy in that regard:
What also became clear after the dust began to settle from the rumble on Long Island was the electoral map has narrowed and Obama’s team, while conceding nothing publicly, is circling the wagons around Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Plouffe said that Obama remains strong in all four states, but he would not discuss the specifics of internal polling or voter-contact analytics, saying only that Obama has “significant leads” in all four places.
It is uncharacteristic of Team Obama to concede any terrain, but Plouffe offered no such assurances about Obama’s position in North Carolina, Virginia, or Florida. Romney advisers have seen big gains in all three states and now consider wins likely, although not guaranteed, in all three. They are similarly upbeat about prospects in Colorado but not confident enough to predict victory. That Plouffe left Colorado off his list of states where Obama’s leading and can withstand a Romney surge might be telling.
Add to this Romney moving resources (and not for a lack of cash given his massive Sept. fundraising haul) from North Carolina into states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and it is apparent that Obama is playing a prevent defense, simply trying to run out the clock. Meanwhile, Romney is expanding his opportunities late in the game giving him a chance to run up the electoral score and enter office with a mandate. Any sports fan will tell you that playing a prevent defense more often than not costs you the game.
Of course the Obama campaign would not concede any states publicly and they might even send the president in for an event or two just to keep up appearances (like his next scheduled visit to Virginia tomorrow.) What happens when you publicly pull out of a swing state? It shows you’re weak. Recall four years ago and why Sarah Palin went “rogue.” It was because McCain publicly pulled out of Michigan and she was determined not to give up on any state. Once McCain did that, it was the death knell for his campaign.
I don’t expect Obama to disappear from Virginia (as that would completely doom Tim Kaine), but it appears that our status as a swing state may very well be coming to an end.