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As Race Enters Final Days, Campaigns Step Up Ground Game

Volunteers for President Obama in Glendale, Wis., prepare for weekend canvassing efforts. Photo by Darren Hauck/Reuters.

The Morning Line

President Obama, Mitt Romney and a team of boosters are fanning out across the country Thursday, with the campaign getting back to real business with five days to go and the aftermath of Sandy still unfolding across the East Coast.

And as both sides work to spin and claim they have the advantage, it’s still all about the map.

Fresh polling from NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist finds Mr. Obama barely leading Romney in Wisconsin and New Hampshire and with a six-point edge in Iowa. Romney continues to perform better in the surveys thanks to an improved favorability rating.

Mark Murray of NBC News breaks it down:

In Iowa, Obama is ahead by six points among likely voters, 50 percent to 44 percent, which is down from his eight-point lead earlier this month.

In Wisconsin, the president edges Romney by three points, 49 percent to 46 percent, which is within the survey’s margin of error. That’s also down from Obama’s six-point lead earlier this month.

And in New Hampshire, Obama gets support from 49 percent of likely voters, while Romney gets 47 percent. In September, before the debates began, Obama held a seven-point advantage in the state, 51 percent to 44 percent.

The NBC polls suggest early voting is helping the president, but the camps held competing conference calls Wednesday with each suggesting the other is full of it.

A new national poll of likely voters conducted by Fox News found the men tied at 46 percent. Romney was winning independents by seven points, down from a 12-point advantage in the same poll last month.

“This race is exactly where we’d hoped it would be a week out,” Romney senior adviser Russ Schriefer told reporters Wednesday. “Under 50 percent is not a good place to be if you’re an incumbent a week out.”

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina’s take? “We have the math, they have the myth….They’re flailing. They can read the polls just like we can.”

The campaigns also sparred over whether Michigan, Minnesota or Pennsylvania are really in play. The Republicans insist it’s true, while Team Obama’s David Axelrod wagered his mustache of four decades on winning those traditionally Democratic states.

Perhaps this says it all:

Who’s bluffing? Perhaps neither, but we’ll know on Tuesday for sure. Welcome to November.

Try it out for yourself in our Vote 2012 Map Center

Team Obama says the president will use Thursday to make his “closing argument.” That message? “Even though this is President Obama’s last campaign, he’s fighting for the same things he’s always believed and run on — that this country cannot succeed without a growing, thriving middle class.”


It’s all about the ground game in Wisconsin, where both parties are working hard to get out the vote on Election Day. Will the state back a Republican for president for the first time since the 1984 Reagan landslide?

“We have a tradition of being very, very closely matched between Democrats and Republicans, so those independents who are very centrist can make all the difference,” political scientist Wendy Scattergood of St. Norbert College told the NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown, who filed a report on Wednesday from Brown County, one of several swing counties in Wisconsin that could decide the outcome of the election.

The Badger State boasts the most counties of any state that voted for George W. Bush in 2004, and then swapped to President Obama in 2008. Republican Gov. Scott Walker won a highly divisive recall election in June, thanks to many of those swing counties.

Drawn by the state’s independent electorate, both teams have been campaigning heavily in the Wisconsin, hoping for a win there.

Watch Jeff’s report here or below:

Speaking of Wisconsin, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee bought ad time for this anti-Tommy Thompson spot in support of Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s Senate bid.


NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA zooms in on natural gas drilling in Thursday’s fact:

The U.S. produced a record amount of natural gas in 2011, 23 trillion cubic feet, largely because of hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling. Pennsylvania alone more than quadrupled its natural gas output 2000-2010, to 573 billion cubic feet – enough to heat every home in the state for 18 months. Shale gas well output grew faster still, quadrupling nationwide 2007-2010.


  • NewsHour desk assistant John K. Wilson takes us inside that oft-forgotten demographic, homeless voters.
  • Colin Powell will be gracing TVs in swing states in an ad for Mr. Obama.
  • The Republican Party releases a rousing ad to fire up supporters, titled “Five Days.” Romney’s campaign also has a new attack ad, “Secretary of Business.”
  • Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Green pens “Mitt Romney’s Missed Opportunity,” discussing how the candidate decoupled himself from his stellar business resume and how that distance may contribute to an election loss.
  • Vice President Biden and former President Bill Clinton tag-teamed on the campaign trail Wednesday and continue to scold the Romney campaign about ads that suggest outsourcing at Jeep because of the auto bailout.
  • Romney is targeting voters while they pump gas.
  • Politico’s Josh Gerstein explores the power of a radio ad.
  • The Associated Press explores possible post-election career scenarios for GOP vice presidential candiate Rep. Paul Ryan.
  • The opening of the ballots has begun in Ohio. The absentee votes won’t be counted until Election Day.
  • The U.S. Election Assistance Commission is in disarray, “a shell of what Congress designed it to be” after Bush v. Gore, Amanda Becker writes.
  • The Center for Responsive Politics says this election will likely cost almost $6 billion, which will make it the most expensive race ever.
  • Romney’s final on-the-road push will include rallies with 100 surrogates, including House Speaker John Boehner in his home state of Ohio. Boehner will then hit the campaign trail stumping for Romney on his own.
  • Karl Rove writes an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and put Romney ahead with at least 279 electoral votes in his prediction of the race.
  • NewsHour coordinating producer Mike Melia talks with Vegas PBS’ Mitch Fox about the state of the presidential race in Nevada.
  • In this week’s edition of Judy’s Notebook, Judy Woodruff dubs Sandy the October surprise.
  • Janie Lorber of Roll Call writes the follow-up on the anti-Obama text messages. Conservative groups are distancing themselves, and the texts have ties to a Virginia-based company called ccAdvertising Inc.
  • Michael Sluss of the Roanoke Times outlines the top super PAC donors in Virginia.
  • Buzzfeed covers a pool report detailing Biden asking a man if he was Indian.
  • Is Biden thinking about a presidential run in 2016?
  • Yeah, Abigael, we’re a little sick of this election, too.
  • Christina speaks to perhaps the last undecided voters in America in a NewsHour Google Plus hangout at 7 p.m. ET and then participates in a social vote panel hosted by Storify at 8 p.m. ET.



  • Is an alert from a drug-sniffing dog enough to justify police searching a home or a car? That was at the heart of Supreme Court arguments Wednesday. Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal explains on the NewsHour.
  • The Now or Never super PAC buys $800,000 worth of spots in Missouri for this ad, aligning GOP Rep. Todd Akin with Romney.
  • The NewsHour examines climate change in the context of Sandy.
  • Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser has the lede of the day: “With Halloween just passed, one could be forgiven for thinking the video of a deranged-looking lady surrounded by Latin-speaking zombies sacrificing a lamb in a cavernous lair is a spooky meme.” Read the story about some longshot candidates challenging congressional leaders here.
  • Politico dives into Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann’s surprisingly close race for re-election.
  • Three unnamed lawmakers may face investigation from the House Ethics Committee after the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended them Wednesday, Roll Call reports.
  • Few Texans trust Congress, the University of Texas and Texas Tribune find in a poll on the branches of government.
  • Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz outlines the race for the redrawn Illinois district between Democrat Tammy Duckworth and Republican Rep. Joe Walsh. The paper also has a new “pick your own Congress” tool.
  • The Daily Caller claims two women said New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez paid them for sex in the Dominican Republic. The senator’s spokesperson said it’s a “completely false accusation.”

Allie Morris contributed to this report.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama speaks in Green Bay, Wis., at 11:40 a.m., in Las Vegas at 5:10 p.m. and in Boulder, Colo., at 9 p.m.
  • Mitt Romney holds three events in Virginia: in Roanoke at 10:15 a.m., Richmond at 2:15 p.m. and Virginia Beach at 7:05 p.m.
  • Vice President Biden speaks in Muscatine, Iowa, at 12:45 p.m. and in Fort Dodge, Iowa, at 5 p.m.
  • Paul Ryan attends an event in Greeley, Colo., with Lee Greenwood at 2:50 p.m. and attends an event in Reno, Nev., at 6:30 p.m.
  • Michelle Obama speaks in Jacksonville, Fla., at 1:05 p.m., Daytona Beach, Fla., at 3:25 p.m. and Miami at 5:55 p.m.
  • Ann Romney is in Ohio for a rally in Columbus at 11:30 a.m. and an early voting event in Heath at 1:30 p.m. She drops by a campaign office in Wadsworth at 4:25 p.m. and ends the day at a rally in Strongsville at 6 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

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