Mitt Romney's campaign gurus insist they are cutting into President Obama's
swing-state advantage and carving a path to the 270 electoral college votes
they'll needed to win the White House by targeting independents -- and they
pointed to new polls yesterday showing gains in Ohio, Virginia and Florida as
proof that their election plan is working.
"The race is going to come down to independents, and that's a group that Mitt has done well with," said Romney pollster Neil Newhouse. "It's simply cold, hard math."
A Quinnipiac poll showed Romney leading Obama with voters who identify as independents by 6 points in Ohio, 5 points in Florida and 11 points in Virginia. Scott Jennings, Romney's campaign director in Ohio, said the campaign has worked hard to seek out independents.
"What we see every day are large numbers of people coming to our doors and saying, 'I've never done this before but I want to help,'" Jennings said. "Ohio is a very purple state, there are a lot of unaffiliated voters, and we spent a lot of time identifying them. If you look at last two weeks worth of public polling in Ohio, you can see Romney leads Obama by an average of 6.2 points among independents."
Top Romney campaign officials held a conference call yesterday boasting about their political gains -- and highlighting any possible leg up -- despite several polls that show him basically dead even with President Obama. Obama, meanwhile, toured storm-ravaged areas in New Jersey and was rewarded with a Washington Post poll that indicated Americans believe he responded appropriately to Hurricane Sandy.
The two candidates have been wrestling over 160 electoral votes in states that are considered toss-ups, according to Realclearpolitics.com, the top poll and opinion aggregating website. While the political site has placed 201 electoral college votes firmly in Obama's grasp, it projects that Romney already has 191.
The toss-ups include heavily contested swing states such as New Hampshire, Colorado and Wisconsin -- where Romney aides say he has been boosting resources and voter outreach.
"We have knocked on twice as many doors as we had at this point in 2008, and made four times as many phone calls," said Chris Walker, a Romney campaign spokesman based in Colorado. Romney is even pushing into new ground in Pennsylvania, where he was not expected to win, in a play to shake Obama up while potentially nabbing the traditionally blue state's 20 electoral votes.
"Pennsylvania is a place we decided to wade into on a path to 300 electoral votes," said Romney political director Rich Beeson.
Obama's campaign dismissed the move as a ploy yesterday, and said they won't be doing the same.
"In these final days, our map is set -- unlike the Romney campaign, which is flailing, trying to make the map different than it is," said campaign manager Jim Messina.
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