Romney to campaign in Pennsylvania on Sunday

Lefties are snarking on Twitter that McCain did some late campaigning in Pennsylvania too and it worked out smashingly for him. Right, but McCain was down nearly seven points nationally at the time. There was little opportunity cost to playing a longshot instead of spending a few extra hours in a swing state because there weren’t enough true swing states left to get him to 270. Romney’s in a hugely different situation. His final schedule as of this morning:

Per the RCP state averages, he’s within two points in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Colorado, and he leads slightly in Virginia. If he’s passing on an extra trip to one of those states to spend time in Pennsylvania, it has to be because he thinks he has some small but real chance to win, not just because a la McCain he’s hoping to give Republicans a shot of enthusiasm by making a cameo on Obama turf.

Mitt Romney plans to campaign in Pennsylvania this weekend, the clearest indicator yet that the Republican nominee believes he can snatch the state and its 20 electoral votes from President Obama.

Two campaign officials confirmed that Romney would stop in Pennsylvania on Sunday amid a cross-country tour of battleground states. His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), has scheduled a campaign stop in Harrisburg, Pa., on Saturday…

“Our campaign’s decision to travel to and campaign in Pennsylvania is just the latest example of how the race is breaking toward Governor Romney and allowing our campaign to be on offense. President Obama is playing defense in states once considered safely in his column,” said a Romney campaign adviser, who requested anonymity because the candidate’s travel plans have not been announced.

The GOP leads by nearly 20 percent in absentee ballots returned in Pennsylvania, a huge increase over 2008 and probably one of things that’s lured them in there. I’m surprised to see no visits to Nevada or Minnesota planned, though. (Maybe they’ll be added on Sunday.) Nevada’s always been favored to go blue, but it’s a crucial state potentially: If Romney takes Florida, Virginia, and Colorado, then he could lose both Ohio and Wisconsin and still win the presidency by winning Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Iowa is very much in play and the fact that Romney’s making two trips to New Hampshire this weekend tells you all you need to know about that. Nevada is trickier, but Jon Ralston thinks Romney still has a shot:

Hopefully there’s time to squeeze in a visit as part of the Plan C path to 270. As for Minnesota, National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar made a solid case earlier today that if any midwestern state should be fertile ground for a Romney upset, it’s this one:

Minnesota’s worth 10 electoral votes, the same as Wisconsin, so you could swap it right into Romney’s Plan B as potentially decisive in combination with wins in Iowa or New Hampshire.

As for Ohio, an internal Citizens United poll has Romney up three even as independent polls of the state show a two- to three-point Obama lead. Any chance that those independent polls in key battleground stats are wrong? Actually, yes, says HuffPo analyst Mark Blumenthal: Given the closeness of the race, there’s roughly a one in three chance that Ohio or Wisconsin or some other potentially decisive state will surprise, which may be all that Romney needs to hit 270. The great X factor, as usual, is turnout. If you think this is a typical D+3 election, then The One’s in good shape. If, like Gallup and Rasmussen, you think this is more like 2004, with a huge Republican surge eliminating the traditional Democratic advantage, then Romney’s the next president. For what it’s worth, Ramesh Ponnuru reports that the GOP insiders he’s spoken to lately — many of them unaffiliated with Romney’s campaign — really do seem to believe he’s going to pull this out. It’s not a pep talk for the base to goose enthusiasm. They just like what they’re seeing in the numbers, presumably/especially the numbers for independents.

Oh, almost forgot: The new ABC/WaPo tracker has the race within seven-hundredths of one percent. Second look at hanging chads?

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