The state of Iowa has only six electoral votes, but nevertheless, it is making a major impact on the presidential race.
The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll shows that President Obama has widened his lead over Mitt Romney to 8 percentage points among likely voters, and 11 percentage points among registered voters. Those numbers are well outside the margin of error.
That surge for the president has changed the status of the Hawkeye state, in many minds, from tossup to leaning toward Obama.
For the president's reelection team, the timing of this surge could not be better. Early in-person voting begins in Iowa this Thursday, and that will allow the President to secure votes now. Those early votes will be like money in the bank -- safely his no matter what happens in the next six weeks.
Taking Iowa, which now seems likely, assures the Obama camp of multiple ways to the 270 votes needed for victory At the same time, a move from tossup to Obama makes Mitt Romney's path to 270 much more difficult.
Those six Iowa electoral votes raise the number of electoral votes currently projected to go President Obama's way to 243 -- just 27 votes short of the 270 needed for victory. Win Florida's 29, and he goes over the top.
Lose Florida, and the President can still seal the deal by winning Ohio and Virginia--states where he has leads outside the margin of error. Lose Ohio or Virginia, and there are several other states, where he is ahead, that could enable him to get to 270.
That's the importance of Iowa.