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First Thoughts: Will Obama's firewall hold?

Will Obama’s firewall hold?... Obama’s final travel schedule has a heavy dose of OH and WI… New NBC/WSJ/Marist polls: IA: Obama 50%, Romney 44%... NH: Obama 49%, Romney 47%... WI: Obama 49%, Romney 46%... With Obama back the trail (in WI, NV, CO) he begins making his final  argument… Romney (who is in VA today) restarted his closing argument yesterday… And will this be another year of the Senate women? 

The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd talks about the recovery efforts after the storm.

*** Will Obama’s firewall hold? The 2012 presidential election could very well hinge on this question: Will President Obama’s Midwest firewall -- Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin -- hold up? The Romney campaign believes it won’t. “Right now, their firewall is burning,” Romney Political Director Rich Beeson said on a conference call yesterday (though that observation isn’t yet backed up by the public polls). As for the Obama campaign, it’s signaling that they have to hold these Midwest states, especially Ohio. Just look at the president’s travel over the last five days of the campaign: four stops in Ohio, three stops in Wisconsin, and two stops in Iowa. (And compare that with two stops in Colorado, one stop in Nevada, one stop in Florida, and one in Virginia.) So you see where the Obama camp is putting its candidate, and that’s likely where the race will be decided. And at the end of the day, Romney has to pick off two of those three states (Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin). 

*** Obama’s final travel schedule
Thursday: Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado
Friday: Ohio
Saturday: Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia
Sunday: New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Colorado
Monday: Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa (Des Moines)

*** Romney’s final travel schedule:
Thursday: Virginia
Friday: Wisconsin, Ohio
Saturday: New Hampshire, Colorado
Sunday: TBD
Monday: New Hampshire (Manchester)

*** New NBC/WSJ/Marist polls: Obama leads in IA, running neck and neck in WI, NH: Speaking of that Midwest firewall, we have new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll numbers. In Iowa, Obama is ahead of Romney by six points among likely voters, 50%-44%, which is down from his eight-point lead in October. In Wisconsin, the president edges Romney by three points, 49%-46%, which is within the survey’s margin of error and which is down from Obama’s six-point lead. And in New Hampshire, Obama gets support from 49% of likely voters, while Romney gets 47%. The good news for Obama in these surveys: He’s ahead and is hitting either 49% or 50%. The warning sign for him: His approval rating among likely voters in Iowa and New Hampshire is at 48%, which is below his ballot number. (By comparison, his 49% approval rating in Wisconsin exactly matches his ballot number.) This matters because it suggests that Obama’s support in Iowa and New Hampshire could be a little less than the ballot number. 

*** Obama’s closing argument: With Obama back on the campaign trail after three days off dealing with Hurricane Sandy, his campaign says he begin laying out his closing argument. The message, per an Obama campaign official: “While Gov. Romney promotes the same policies that failed our country and ran the middle class into the ground and calls it change, President Obama will point the way forward to real change that will boost the middle class and create a stronger future for all Americans.” The campaign is also up with a new TV ad that features Colin Powell’s interview on CBS endorsing the president. The ad will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. By the way, NBC’s Kristen Welker reports that before leaving on his campaign travel today, Obama will receive a briefing on the latest developments in the response to Sandy. 

*** Romney’s closing argument: And back on the campaign trail yesterday in Florida, Mitt Romney restarted the closing argument he had been making over the last several days: change. “My view is pretty straight forward, and that is I believe that this is time for America to take a different course -- that this should be a turning point for our country,” he said, per NBC’s Garrett Haake. “And I say that because I look at where we are and with 23 million Americans – you think about that. These are real people. These are folks trying to put food on the table," Romney said. "Twenty-three million people struggling to find a good job. This is something that requires in my view a different path than we’ve been on." Yet Haake notes that Romney reined in his criticism of Obama yesterday as the president visited the hurricane damage in New Jersey. Meanwhile, the Romney camp is up with its own new TV ad. “Barack Obama says he might appoint a Secretary of Business,” the ad goes. “His solution to everything is to add another bureaucrat. Why not have a president who actually understands business?”

*** On the trail: Obama campaigns in Green Bay, WI at 11:35 am ET, North Las Vegas, NV at 5:10 pm ET, and Boulder, CO at 9:00 pm ET… Romney, in Virginia, stops in Roanoke at 10:00 am ET, Doswell, at 2:15 pm ET, and Virginia Beach at 7:15 pm ET… Bill Clinton stumps in Waukesha, WI, Perrysburg, OH, Akron, OH, and Chillicothe, OH… Biden is in Iowa, while Ryan is in Nevada… And Michelle Obama campaigns in Florida, and Ann Romney visits Ohio.

Nati Harnik / AP

Former President Bill Clinton campaigns for President Barack Obama at a grassroots event at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012.

*** The year of the Senate women? When this election cycle began, it was VERY likely we were going to see fewer women in the next Senate. After all, Olympia Snowe and Kay Bailey Hutchison were retiring, and Claire McCaskill looked like a sure bet to go down to defeat. But now, it seems like the Senate will add to its female population. Not only is McCaskill now in better shape, but Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Debra Fischer (D-NE) are the favorites to win their contests. And then it’s very possible that Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Linda McMahon (R-CT), and Heather Wilson (R-NM) could win their races, too. It’s also worth noting that on the GOP side, its best-run Senate campaigns may all lose -- but they are all headed up by women candidates, Linda Lingle in HI, Wilson and McMahon. And it’s female candidates who may end up saving the Dems and ensuring their ability to stay in the majority: see Heitkamp and McCaskill.

Countdown to Election Day: 5 days

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