Confident Romney campaign shifts focus away from North Carolina

Posted October 18, 2012 6:05 p.m. EDT
Updated October 19, 2012 7:35 p.m. EDT

— With just one day of early voting in the books, Republican Mitt Romney made the decision to pull his campaign spokesman from North Carolina to focus on states where his margin is more narrow.

"With the increasingly widening polls in North Carolina, we will continue to allocate resources, including key senior staff, to other states," said Romney campaign spokesman Michael Levoff. He was referring to a recent Gallup poll that shows the Republican has opened a 7 percentage point lead on President Barack Obama.

"As we enter the final weeks of the campaign, it is clear that Governor Romney's plan to strengthen the middle class, create 12 million jobs and tackle the soaring national debt has resonated strongly with North Carolinians," Levoff continued.

But Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, called the move a bluff, saying he suspects the Romney campaign of presenting false optimism in hopes of keeping Democrats from the polls.

"I think this is a head fake. I think they are pretending to leave North Carolina," Woodhouse said.

Dr. Andrew Binder, an assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University, said whatever the reason, the move seems premature.

"Making an assertion that we're going to move our people out because of a clearly widening poll margin seems like something of a stretch," Binder said.

While the Gallup poll has Romney up, other polls show Obama with a slight margin and, Binder pointed out, polls of North Carolina voters have been within four points either way for months. A WRAL News poll during the first week of October showed Obama with a two-point lead. That poll had a margin of error of 4 percent.

North Carolina Obama campaign spokesman Cameron French says it remains fully committed to North Carolina and Romney is signaling he's taking North Carolina votes for granted.

Binder said Romney may be calculating an even tighter race in Ohio, a swing state with more electoral votes. "The difference there is worth a lot," he said.

Woodhouse countered that the move might simply be spin to cover the fact that Romney needs more help in Ohio.