Major Garrett at National Journal has a good post-second debate column in which he reports that the Obama campaign seems to have abandoned most of its three-state (Florida-Ohio-Virginia) firewall. Those are the three states with 60 electoral votes—Obama’s weakest 2008 states except for Indiana and North Carolina—which the Obama campaign has been pummeling for months with anti-Romney TV spots. The idea is that if they could hold these three states and all those Obama carried with higher percentages in 2008 Obama would have 332 electoral votes, and could afford to lose a small state here or there. That’s why they were constantly saying that Romney had only a narrow window to get to 270.
My Oct. 7 Examiner column. written after the first presidential debate, I said that early post-debate polls suggested the firewall may be crumbling. Now Major (he used to have an office across the hall from me at U.S. News, next to Mike Gerson) suggests that the Obama strategists have reached the same conclusion. Here are the key paragraphs:
“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 but not confident enough to predict victory in Colorado. That Plouffe left Colorado off his list of states where Obama’s leading and can withstand a Romney surge might be telling.”
Do the Obama strategists think that Romney has North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Colorado in the bag? I doubt it. But the implications are pretty staggering. Give Romney those states and he’s at 257 electoral votes. And with a number of places to get them, maybe including (as Major suggests) Pennsylvania or Michigan.