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View from Boston: Early optimism from Team Romney

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Byron York

BOSTON — As Election Day heads into its final hours, the Romney campaign is sending out bits and pieces of good news they say point toward a GOP victory tonight.  Romney aides and strategists have taken over the floor of the Boston Garden as an election-night headquarters, and are patching together a picture of what is happening from exit polls and reports from polling places.

In addition, Republican activists, donors, and reporters are converging on the Boston Convention Center, where the public Romney election night event will take place.  Among GOP movers and shakers, there seems to be much late-afternoon optimism. It’s also based on little fragments of information, tips from people around the country, and perhaps a little wishful thinking.  But here is how the Romney campaign, plus some of those movers and shakers, view the situation:

As far as Ohio is concerned, campaign sources believe higher turnout in areas won by John McCain in 2008 is combining with sluggish turnout in some Obama areas to suggest a Romney victory.  In addition, politicos in in Ohio have been sending around a chart showing changes in absentee and early voting from 2008 to 2012.  It has a lot of numbers, but the bottom line is that early voting is down in counties won by Barack Obama in 2008, and it’s up in counties won by John McCain.  Ohio Republicans have long believed that if they could just cut into Obama’s early-voting advantage — not erase it altogether, just make it smaller — they could win on Election Day.

Also, flying from Cincinnati to Washington Monday, I ran into Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who had been in Ohio.  Perkins believed that the evangelical voters who seemingly came from nowhere in 2004 to re-elect George W. Bush — and then essentially sat out the 2008 election — will be back in a big way.

In Virginia, a state once thought relatively sure for Romney but now very, very close, campaign sources point toward less-than-stellar turnout in the Democratic Charlottesville area, combined with strong turnout out in the southern part of the state.   But they don’t say much more than that.  “We know it’s going to be close,” says one campaign aide.  “In our projections for Virginia, it’s always been close.  But we think we are going to have the numbers.”

The campaign sounds much more confident about the situation in Colorado.  Officials point to a bunch of counties where Romney appears to be doing well — they believe he will win Adams County, the first Republican presidential victory there in nearly 30 years — and claim solid progress in Arapahoe, Jefferson, and other counties.

In Iowa, Romney sources say Republicans are out-performing their ’08 share of absentee ballots in 95 of 99 counties — and in some areas out-performing their share of ballots returned in 2004.  (Not 2008, a Democratic year, but 2004, the year George W. Bush won re-election.)  “We’re seeing record low turnout in some left-leaning areas where Democrats have already voted early,” says the source.

In Florida, Romney aides see encouraging signs in Pasco County, often thought as a bellwether for the state.  They also see good news in Bay County as well as some heavily Cuban-American areas.  “We feel very good about Florida,” says the source.  But they offer no more details than that.

In Pennsylvania, Team Romney says there are encouraging signs.  “We’re seeing higher turnout in coal country than in previous years, and very strong turnout in northern Bucks County,” says the source.  Things are also going well in South Central Pennsylvania, but the report from Pennsylvania is particularly sketchy.

Team Romney says there’s also encouraging news in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Nevada.  They’re also encouraged by some early exit poll results, particularly two sets of numbers.  One, 60 percent say the economy is the most important issue.  And two 51 percent say Romney would better handle the economy, while 47 percent say Obama.

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Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner