Politics & Government
4:47 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Stateside: Amidst tight race, candidates' interest in Michigan increases

Stateside on the tightening presidential race in Michigan

Election Day is less than a week away and the race is tightening with intensity.

Filling Michigan residents’ televisions is a burst of campaign ads from both Governor Romney and President Obama.

To explain the stakes of the race in Michigan, Cyndy spoke with editor and publisher of "Inside Michigan Politics,” Bill Ballenger and Michigan Public Radio Network Lansing Chief, Rick Pluta.

The guests started by addressing where the race currently stands.

“The Detroit news poll shows Romney and Obama within the margin of era, saying it’s really a race and Mitt Romney may be within striking distance of being the first Republican Presidential Candidate in 5 elections cycles to take Michigan. But this morning David Axelrod said the reality is that they are still much further apart. He called Romney’s momentum ‘Fauxmentum,” said Pluta.

Romney’s current popularity, says Ballenger, is a trend in both Michigan and the entire country.

“I think it’s happened nationally. There was a poll last week that showed it even in Michigan. I think the debates were a factor, there as intensity factor in favor of Mitt Romney. Despite what Mr. Axelrod says, Obama is worried enough about Michigan that he is putting $800,000 worth of ads on network cable beginning this Thursday,” said Ballenger.

“What we’re seeing here is what a lot of people expected, that it was going to tighten up near the end of it and toward election day it was going to be about whoever had the better get-out-the vote machine to get their voters to the polls,” said Pluta.

The debates, according to Pluta, were the initiation of Romney’s momentum.

“In that debate, the President created an opening for Romney to create himself as a viable alternative where there hadn’t been before. That was where things started to shift,” said Pluta.

Although Obama has placed focus on helping those affected by Sandy, the boost he can expect to see is minimal, claims Ballenger.

“It is hard to imagine that will make a difference in the race,” said Ballenger.

The latest barrage of television ads are, according to Ballenger, an important element in an already close race.

“It not too late. The Romney SuperPacs have spent supposedly over $16 million on ads in Michigan over the past few months. The only thing missing is that Romney personally has only come once to Michigan and Obama hasn’t been here at all. Both candidates personally have ignored Michigan,” said Ballenger.

“We are not seeing the things that you would traditionally expect to see from either candidates if Michigan were really being treated as a battleground state. We should remember that the Romney-Michigan strategy has always had two tiers. The top one was, ideally, it would be great if Romney could capture a blue-collar Midwestern state where he was born. But, at the very least, make the Obama campaign spend resources here that they would have spent on other states,” said Pluta.

What should Michigan voters watch for as the election approaches?

“A last-weekend surprise,” said Ballenger.

“I think we should keep an eye on Oakland County, it is the Ohio of this state. The worst news the Romney campaign got earlier in the cycle was that, in the place where he was raised, he was still trailing. President Obama won Oakland County with 56% of the vote four years ago. It’s going to be a place where both of the candidates have to do well if they’re going to win Michigan,” said Pluta.

The guests concluded with their personal predictions for Michigan.

“I predict Obama will carry Michigan. It will be close,” said Ballenger.

“An upset is possible but right now Michigan is leaning blue in the presidential election,” said Pluta.

-Cameron Stewart

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