Michael A. Walsh @ The New York Post:
To see why the choice of Clint Eastwood as the surprise guest speaker at last night’s close of the Republican Convention was so brilliant, look at the electoral map.
The Democrats, thanks to their dominance of the big cities, control the West Coast and the Northeast — plus (as long as the dead voters of Cook County can still get to the polls) President Obama’s home state of Illinois. The GOP dominates the South, the Plains and the Rocky Mountain states.
Up for grabs is the fading Democratic stronghold of the upper Midwest. Michigan-born Mitt Romney and Wisconsinite Paul Ryan aim to win the heartland and drive the Democrats back to their coastal enclaves in New England, New York, California and the Pacific Northwest.
And this strategy — call it the Heartland Campaign — is already paying off.
For decades, the Democrats could count on reliably liberal states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan (a total of 36 electoral votes) to anchor the middle of the nation, and then aim to flip normally Republican states such as Indiana and Ohio. It worked perfectly in 2008.
This year, Indiana (11 votes) will return to the Republican fold; Illinois will stay Democratic and most likely Minnesota, too — but Ohio and the rest of the nation’s industrial midsection are now in play.
This is not good news for Team Obama.
In Michigan, where Mitt’s father, George, was a popular governor and successful private-sector auto executive, Obama is up about 2 points in the polls; in Ryan’s Wisconsin, by little more than a single point. And in Iowa, which also went for Obama in ’08, the president’s lead is down to two-tenths of a percentage point.
In short, the trends are not good. Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker withstood wave after wave of Democratic sore-loser attempts to overturn the results of the Tea Party tsunami of 2010, finally triumphing in a recall election in June. Republicans also elected a Michigan governor in 2010, Rick Snyder, and took command of the Legislature. And Iowa, which put Republican Terry Branstad in the State House in 2010 by a wide margin, also appears to be suffering buyer’s remorse.
A rout of the Democrats along the Great Lakes would be huge not only electorally, but also culturally.