With just six days to go before Election Day, Mitt Romney’s campaign is attempting to expand the electoral map by taking aim at Michigan and the traditionally left-leaning states of Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
Team Romney is insisting they are seeing movement in the states—especially in Pennsylvania—which could make them more competitive. The move has motivated Team Obama to put money back into television ads there.
So what’s behind the shift in strategy?
Some are speculating Romney is making a last ditch effort in those states in case he loses battleground Ohio. A new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS poll released Wednesday shows Obama with a 5-point lead in the Buckeye State.
Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, released a statement saying the move reflects Romney’s fears he will not get the 270 electoral votes required to win the election.
“Now, like Republicans did in 2008, they are throwing money at states where they never built an organization and have been losing for two years. Let’s be very clear, the Romney campaign and its allies' decision to go up with advertising in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota is a decision made out of weakness, not strength,” said Messina.
“While the Obama campaign would like to wish it is 2008, the reality is that they are now forced to ‘play defense’ in least six states … that they once believed were ‘safe’ Obama wins,” a Team Romney memo insists.
Of course, there's another explanation for the move. Team Romney likely also wants to create a media narrative about the campaign's momentum in the final days of the race, in the hope that it'll become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Making it seem as though traditionally blue states are in play is a good way to do it.
Erin McPike of Real Clear Politics told msnbc’s Chris Matthews on Wednesday: “These two campaigns are seeing very different [internal polling] data. And that’s why they’re arguing these cases. “
She added that Republicans simply “don’t believe that Obama voters will turn out as much as the Obama campaign expects. These sides do believe very different things.”
Matthews asked James Peterson, the director of Africana studies and associate professor of English and Lehigh university, if Team Obama may have been making a mistake by “putting all their faith in winning” the battleground states like Ohio and Florida, which doesn’t help candidates win states like Pennsylvania, Minnesota or Michigan.
Peterson replied: “I think that because of the electoral college…presidential elections have to focus on swing states…as it turns out, the elections sometimes do hinge on them.”