The fact that the Badger State, which Obama won handily in 2008 is now considered by many to be in play, is not insignificant. It’s beginning to look more and more likely, that Obama will have to use resources that he would have liked to have used elsewhere to keep Wisconsin in his column. To say that he desperately needs those 10 electoral votes in November would be an understatement.
Michael Barone has some interesting analysis of exit polling data from yesterday’s vote in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin exit poll evidently reported the race for governor in the recall ballot as 50%-50%. With 92% of the vote in, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s excellent website reports the score as 54%-46% Walker. Let’s say that’s the final results: only 13% of precincts from Milwaukee County and 3% of precincts from Madison’s Dane County—the Democrats’ two reservoirs of big majorities—remain uncounted. It has been emblazoned on mainstream media that the exit poll also showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in the state 51%-45%. But if you think the exit poll was 4% too Democratic—and that’s in line with exit poll discrepancies with actual vote results over the last decade, as documented by the exit poll pioneer, the late Warren Mitofsky*—that result looks more like 49%-47% Romney. Or assume the remaining Milwaukee County precincts whittle Republican Governor Scott Walker’s margin over Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to 53%-47%, which looks likely, the Obama-Romney numbers would look like 48%-48%.
You can see a breakdown of Wisconsin’s voting history here, no Republican has carried the state since 1984 when Reagan carried them all except for Minnesota. Despite being the devil incarnate, George W. Bush nearly won the state twice, losing by less than .5% in both 2000 and 2004. The opportunity for Romney, to pickup 10 electoral college votes that he may not have originally thought possible, is there.
My heart says Wisconsin is in play, and if Obama struggles there it foretells a tough battle over the next five months for him; nevertheless, my head says that Obama will squeak by with a win in Wisconsin in November. Just for kicks, I took the time to play with the interactive electoral college map at RealClear Politics. I have Romney winning 287-251. Of course, I reserve the right to change my prediction later in the campaign.