NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -– "We're going to win."
Two different advisers to Mitt Romney said this, unprompted, to a Huffington Post reporter traveling on the campaign's plane Sunday.
The statement may have come from genuine confidence, but it came off more as an attempt to keep up flagging spirits and ward off negative questions in the face of the Republican presidential candidate's dimming prospects.
There is a sense that the race, while close, is sliding towards a reelection for President Obama, with battleground state polls the biggest indicator. A day traveling with the Obama campaign on Friday in Ohio, followed by a day spent on the Romney plane as it hopped in and out of four different states on Sunday, did nothing to dispel this notion.
But there is still a belief in Boston, based on internal data, that Romney can win Ohio, in addition to Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, and then pick off either Iowa or New Hampshire to get to 270 electoral votes. Colorado looks positive, as it has for some time. Wisconsin, however, has slid off the Romney map, and Pennsylvania was just a head fake meant to drum up some positive news coverage.
Two beliefs are helping Republicans maintain that all the polls in Ohio have been wrong to give Obama a slight advantage. First, Romney's camp thinks polling has overestimated the number of Democratic voters that will make up the final electoral picture. Second, Republicans foresee an intensity advantage on Election Day and expect masses of conservative and independent voters who distrust the early voting process will swarm the polling places on Tuesday.