The Politics of Mitt Romney's Bus Tour

Mitt Romney will go on a five-day bus tour through six states this week, and where he plans on going offers clues to how the presidential election is shaping up.

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Mitt Romney will go on a five-day bus tour through six states this week, and where he plans on going offers clues to how the presidential election is shaping up. The campaign is calling the trip his "Every Town Counts Tour," and it will go through New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Why did Romney pick these swing states instead of the southern or western ones? For starters, the "Every Town" states are the ones where Bain Capital is the least popular. A Purple Strategies poll released last week found that New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are the most likely to think private equity hurts the country instead of helping the economy. Republicans have urged Romney to own his success. But he needs to explain it just right. A Pew poll released this month found that while 88 percent of people completely or mostly agree with the statement "I admire people who get rich by working hard," only 27 percent completely or mostly agree with the statement "I admire people who are rich." Maybe this tour is his chance to show his hard-working side.

A look at the state of the race in each of the places Romney will visit in the next few days:

Stop 1: New Hampshire. This state is one of the most elastic, by The New York Times' Nate Silver's definition, meaning it responds to a larger degree than average when political conditions change. (So a good economic report would be really good for Obama there, a bad one really bad.) As for where the race is today, Obama is now averaging a 6-point lead over Romney in New Hampshire. For months, Romney had a small lead. The left-leaning Public Policy Polling attributes the change to a drop in Romney's favorability. A year ago, 43 percent had a favorable opinion of him and 42 percent had an unfavorable view. Now 40 percent see him favorably and 50 percent see him unfavorably. Maybe the positive tone of Romney's road trip can win those voters back.
Stop 2: Pennsylvania. A new poll from Quinnipiac finds Obama with a 6-point lead in the state -- and a 51 percent to 36 percent advantage among women -- but there's plenty of good news for Romney in the survey. Voters are essentially tied over whether Obama deserves to be reelected. And they think Romney would be better than Obama on the economy by 49 percent to 41 percent. They think Romney would create more jobs by 45 percent to 43 percent.
Stop 3: Ohio. Romney will visit Troy, Ohio, the Dayton Daily News reports. The city, in Miami County and outside Dayton, is in the conservative southwest part of the state. Though Obama won Ohio by 52 percent to John McCain's 47 percent, Miami County voted for McCain by 63 percent to 35 percent. That might explain why Romney's going to that particular part of the state. But why Ohio? He needs to reeducate its citizens about his business career. The Purple Strategies poll showed that Bain is especially unpopular here: 47 percent think private equity firms care only about profit, while 38 percent think they grow the economy. Perhaps the Obama campaign's own polling has shown similar results. It's airing tons of attack ads about Bain Capital -- and even Romney's Swiss bank account -- in the state.
Stop 4: Wisconsin. Republicans turned out at a higher rate than Democrats in the Wisconsin governor recall election, and they say they're convert that get-out-the-vote organization into the Romney campaign. Wisconsin seems like a great place to raise money right now. But most people think it'll vote Democratic in November, just as it has every year since 1984. Obama is averaging a 4.8 percentage point lead in the state. He was even leading among voters in the recall election who chose to keep Republican Scott Walker in office.
Stop 5: Iowa. Obama is averaging just a 1.8-point lead in the state, though it hasn't been polled very much. And an NBC poll in late May found 54 percent of registered voters thought the country was on the wrong track, and they thought Romney would do a better job handling the economy by 46 percent to 41 percent. And yet, 50 percent thought Obama best understands people like them, whole only 38 percent thought that about Romney. The Republican will keep his bus tour to the eastern -- and more Democratic --part of the state, the Des Moines Register reports.
Stop 6: Michigan. Obama has been averaging a significant lead in Michigan, but a EPIC-MRA poll released last week showed Romney a single point ahead. Only 41 percent of Michigan voters approved of the job Obama's doing, and the Detroit Free Press reported it could be due to the many anti-Obama TV ads being aired in the state by Republican PACs. But the reason Romney's going probably also has something to do with the two fundraisers he'll do in the state once the road trip ends.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.