President Obama has been building a national lead of c.5% with bigger leads in all the battleground states except N. Carolina where he is roughly tied. However the key to a successful second term will be in his ability to broaden his support base beyond his 2008 map and in his ability to re-gain control of Congress.
In this regard, the benefits of his competing in traditionally red states states like Arizona which have become more competitive recently are numerous:
- It shows confidence and that he is competing for the support of all Americans.
- It takes away from the national narrative that he is running an overly cautious campaign and helps to excite his base everywhere
- There are proportionally more undecided in Arizona when compared to battleground states.
- Any improvement in polling in Arizona will have a marginal beneficial impact on his national polling and thus on the psychology of the race more generally.
- Arizona is relatively virgin territory and voters there are not fatigued with excessive adverting - so the impact of any ads will be far greater
- The surprise factor will make it newsworthy and multiply his actual investment in advertising on news/talk programs
- It will be demoralizing for Romney to have to actually compete on his own "turf" and will show he is in bad shape nationally if he has to do so - not to mention draining his resources from elsewhere.
- All Obama has to do is show up at a rally for a couple of hours and ask "has anybody seen Romney here lately?"
- It helps a key competitive senate candidate (Carmona) and in other down ballot races.
- It builds the Dem map for the future
- It gives Californian Dem supporters something positive to do in a competitive neighboring state.
- Depending on the structure of the media markets, any investment in Arizona may also have a spill-over effect in border regions of Nevada and New Mexico.
Ditto in Montana, Indiana, Missouri and South Carolina - the investment in time/money doesn't have to be huge to create a multiplier effect, force Romney further onto the defensive and have an incremental positive effect on national polls. There simply aren't enough undecideds left in the "battleground" states to make any further improvement possible there without huge incremental cost.
Sometimes fighting behind enemy lines can have a hugely disproportionate effect in damaging enemy morale when compared to the usual front-line pitched battle.