WASHINGTON -- The importance of Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes has been made clear in this last week of campaigning, with President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) all scheduled to visit the state in a last-minute plea to voters. (Vice President Joe Biden was there on Friday.)
While considered a "purple" state, Wisconsin has long been believed to be in Obama's favor. After all, a Republican presidential candidate hasn't won the state since 1984, and Obama beat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) there in 2008 with a solid 14-point margin. This year, however, the polls are tighter, there's a home state boy running as vice president, and the GOP is fresh off victory in the June recall election, so Republicans believe the state could go in Romney's favor.
The Obama campaign disagrees, and believes the Badger State still has the president's back.
In a memo sent out to reporters on Sunday night, Obama's Wisconsin state director, Tripp Wellde, accused the Romney team of "desperately spinning a narrative of 'momentum' without offering any facts or specifics to back up their claim."
"Now, the Romney-Ryan campaign is telling you they are poised to win Wisconsin -- but don’t, won’t, and can’t point to anything to back up their assertion," Wellde wrote. "The reality is straightforward. The makeup of this year’s electorate in Wisconsin, the turnout machine built by OFA over the last 500 plus days, and the President’s consistent lead in public polling gives the President a clear advantage in the final days of this contest."
More voters are expected to turn out for the November election than showed up for the contentious June recalls. Approximately 500,000 people who voted in the 2008 presidential contest didn't vote in the recalls, and according to Politico, political strategists believe those individuals are likely Obama supporters.
"These voters are younger, more diverse, and less affluent than the electorate as a whole -- and based on all available data are significantly more Democratic than Republican due to the President’s leadership on issues ranging from 'middle class first' economic measures to national security and equality," Wellde arguged in his memo. "As these voters turn out, which data from absentee and early in person voting suggests is already well underway, the electorate becomes increasingly tougher for Mr. Romney."
The Obama operation has been on the ground for about 500 days in Wisconsin, and Wellde states that it has built "the largest grassroots campaign in the history of Wisconsin" that will help turn out all those voters.
"Now, with voting already underway, the final piece of the puzzle is maintaining enthusiasm over the closing days of this campaign -- a puzzle piece made even easier by the increased focus and principal travel from both sides that keeps our partisans charged up and committed to finishing the job," he wrote.
Wellde also argues that polling remains on the Obama campaign's side, pointing out that the president has led in 26 of the last 27 polls of Badger State voters.
“If you’re defending, you’re losing," said Romney spokeswoman Sarah Pompei in response to the Obama campaign memo. "The map continues to expand for Governor Romney as voters look for a candidate who has offered a detailed plan that will deliver a real economic recovery. Voters know Governor Romney can do it because he has done it before -- working with Republicans and Democrats to create real change. We can't afford four more years of broken promises -- we need a real recovery."
Republicans have touted their strong grassroots operation in Wisconsin, pointing to its success in keeping Gov. Scott Walker (R) in office despite Democratic attempts to recall him. They also point to the more than 2 million voter contacts they say they've made in Wisconsin since the party began its absentee and early voter turnout program nationwide.
Additionally, Republicans have been heartened by early voting numbers, arguing that because Waukesha County out-performed the more Democratic Dane County on the first day of in-person absentee voting on Oct. 22, it signaled good news for the GOP.
"We know what it takes to win on the ground here in Wisconsin," Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said last week at an early voting rally in Wausau. "I don't know how many times we need to win for the media to figure out that we're pretty good at winning here lately in Wisconsin."
UPDATE: Oct. 29 -- On Monday morning, Obama canceled his trip to Green Bay, Wis., that was originally scheduled for Tuesday, in order to stay in D.C. and monitor the Hurricane Sandy response.
Romney has also canceled his Monday event in Wisconsin.