Romney's "Big 10" strategy

The incongruity, however, explains why Romney may be able to win with a Big Ten strategy. Until last year, when Nebraska joined this athletic conference, it extended from State College, Pa., to Iowa City, Iowa. Romney enters the final innings competitive in those two states, as well as in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, which means he is poised to correct a Republican problem: The party has been too dependent on the South, understood as the 11 states of the Confederacy, plus Oklahoma and Kentucky.

In the past five presidential elections, Republican candidates have received an average of 64 percent of their electoral votes from the South. In 2000, George W. Bush became the first Republican to win the presidency while losing the electoral and popular votes outside the South. The party’s Southern cast was one reason John McCain in 2008 did not carry any suburb contiguous to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit or Chicago.

Such places are habitats of people who by now may be lightly attached Obama voters — people who like the idea of him but not the results of him.