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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Southern Swing States Still in Play

Facing South’s Chris Kromm takes a look at “What’s going on in the Southern swing states?” and concludes that that “the reality is that polls show Obama’s changing prospects in the Southern swing states are completely in line with what’s happened nationally.” Regarding Virginia and Florida, Kromm notes:

* Virginia is Obama’s best hope in the South. He won the state by more than 230,000 votes in 2008, and it still ranks with Ohio among the most hotly-contested national battlegrounds. In the polls, Obama averages a miniscule .8-point lead. According to The New York Times’ popular poll-watching blog FiveThirtyEight, as of now that translates into an equally-narrow 54 percent chance of Obama winning the state.
* Florida has some Democrats more worried. After Obama won the state by 2.5 points in 2008 — and enjoying good polling numbers at different times in 2012 — there’s sharp debate about his chances this time around. In a reverse image of Virginia, Romney leads the polls by a mere .6 points. But FiveThirtyEight’s analysis finds a state where Obama has struggled to gain traction; right now, they peg his odds of winning Florida at just 35 percent.

Silver’s FL projection may seem a tad pessimistic, given the less than 1 percent lead Romney has in the latest poll. Kromm has more of an insider perspective on NC, where he explains:

…Democrats insist it’s still in play, and point to recent good-news polls [pdf] as proof of revival in a state Obama won by just over 14,000 votes in 2008…The Obama campaign’s strategy in North Carolina has been hard to fathom, perhaps intentionally: On one hand, he famously skipped the state in a recent swing-state tour, and left North Carolina out of a recent round of ad buys. But now Obama’s bumped up advertising in the state again. The campaign claims their focus on “ground game” is the reason Democrats have made up 53 percent of early voters so far; the early voting rate is up 22 percent from 2008.
What do the polls say? Going by averages, Romney has only a 1.6-point advantage in North Carolina. But like Florida, FiveThirtyEight thinks Obama has too much catching up to do; they currently a meager 19 percent chance of winning N.C.

Kromm concludes that “Obama’s prospects may, as of now, appear to have dimmed in the Southern swing states compared to 2008 — but not any worse than they have in other parts of the country.” And it may be that a heroic GOTV effort, particularly in NC’s more progressive “research triangle” and “souls to the polls” mobilizations could offset the small polling leads the GOP may or may not have by election day.

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