Let’s bring this treasure chest up to the surface:
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 Colorado but not confident enough to predict victory. That Plouffe left Colorado off his list of states where Obama’s leading and can withstand a Romney surge might be telling…
Romney, according to RCP, has 191 electoral votes. If you add Florida (29), North Carolina (15), and Virginia (13), that brings his total to 248 electoral votes. Add Colorado (9) –which neither campaign is prepared to claim or concede–and Romney’s total rises to 257 electoral votes. If Romney wins Ohio (18) in addition to these states, he would have 275 electoral votes. If Romney loses Ohio, he would need to win Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire to reach 273 electoral votes.
Meanwhile, from CNN’s Peter Hamby:
The buzz from Columbus: Ohio race was reset by Romney's first debate (and he may have even been up heading into debate #2)
— Peter Hamby (@PeterHamby) October 17, 2012
It’s not that Romney has insurmountable leads in FL, VA, and NC, it’s that Team O has to decide how to allocate what’s left of its campaign treasury down the stretch and there are better bets for them than those three states. Triage, in other words. Mitt’s up 4.7 points on average in North Carolina, which would be tough for O to make up, and 2.5 points in Florida, which might be doable but would be hugely expensive in terms of reserving enough ad time to make a dent. I’m a little surprised to see Virginia included — O actually leads there by eight-tenths of a point, although Romney’s (narrowly) won the last three polls, so maybe Obama’s campaign figures it’s not worth resisting that momentum in a state they don’t really need. They do kind of need Colorado, though, and that actually looks tougher than Virginia for them at the moment: Romney leads by seven-tenths of a point and has won six of the nine polls taken since the first debate. If I had to guess, I’d bet they’re looking at Virginia and Colorado now as an either/or situation; if Romney’s lead opens a bit in one rather than the other, that one will be written off and an investment made in the closer state.
Via Gateway Pundit, here’s Karl Rove with a fun fact about that blockbuster Gallup poll today. The most important set of polls in the race thus far, I think, will be the next ones out of Ohio incorporating reaction to last night’s debate. I don’t expect much to change, but if one candidate suddenly picks up a few points, the path-to-270 strategizing is going to change instantly, and maybe dramatically.
Update: Changed the headline from “backing away from” to “turning grim on.” Garrett’s piece implies that Team O might cut those states loose, but doesn’t cite anyone clearly saying that. Read between the lines, though.