Ross Perot's endorsement of Romney was made in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register but could it have an effect in Minnesota, too? The national media sees Minnesota as solidly Democrat. It isn't. In 2010 Mark Dayton became the first Democrat governor in 20 years. The fact is the Land of 10,000 Lakes has always had a weakness for outspoken loons. In 1992, Ross Perot earned 23.96% of the vote in Minnesota compared to his national average of 18.91%. Perot then attempted to create a third party. It fizzled in most places but the Independence Party of Minnesota traces its origin directly to Ross Perot's 1992 presidential race. Political analysts across the nation were shocked in 1998 when Minnesota voters elected Independence Party candidate Jesse Ventura governor. While the "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" Independence Party has yet to match that accomplishment it has consistently played the spoiler. Both Senator Al Franken and Mark Dayton claimed victory with less than 50% of the vote because the Independence Party candidate split the fiscal conservative vote.
In 2008, Obama carried two large Twin City suburban counties and about half of the rural counties, including many that usually vote Republican, on his way to earning 54.1% of the vote. I can't see Obama's support reaching too much beyond the city limits of Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth this year. While several other parts of the state are heavily Democrat, especially the northeast corner, those areas tend to contain blue collar voters much like the "bitter clingers" who are up for grabs in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The single biggest under reported issue of this campaign- the squeeze on family budgets because of high gasoline costs- are very much on voters' minds because almost everyone in Minnesota has to drive to work and shopping. Another factor reducing Obama's total are that both Saint Paul and the northeastern part of the state have large Catholic populations. I expect that many Catholic voters will defect to Romney or another candidate in protest.
A recent poll in Minnesota has the race within four points . Even a poll sponsored by what is arguably the most politically correct newspaper in the nation had Obama under 50%. Then there is the added bonus should Romney move into this state in the closing days of the campaign: The two big TV markets in Minnesota contain many viewers in the battleground state of Wisconsin.