Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
If you are a Nate Silver addict, as so many people seem to be, you are watching tight polls all over the country, and hearing both campaigns making their case that they have the electoral votes to win the Presidential election.
No doubt about it, it's going to be tight.
Nowhere is this more true than in Wisconsin.
The Obama and Romney campaigns reported on Thursday that they had raised about $1 billion each (Obama slightly over the $1 billion mark, Romney slightly under it). We are seeing and hearing the effects of all that cash--and the untold millions raised and spent by outside groups as well--as Wisconsin towns and cities are deluged with advertising, robocalls, and constant candidate visits.
Both campaigns put their own spin on why they will win Wisconsin.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told Politico this morning that early voting and same-day registration will help Obama win Wisconsin, where the latest Rasmussen polls shows the President tied with Mitt Romney 49-49.
Romney's political director, Rich Beeson, had an interesting take in Politico's Playbook on how Romney will win this historically blue state.
Not only does the Romney campaign predict that Paul Ryan will "peel off blue-collar Democratic votes" (memo to campaign: have you talked to any auto workers in Janesville lately?)
Beeson goes on to say of the Romney campaign: "We're going to run better in Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay than Republicans normally run."
Why? Because of the Etch-a-Sketch strategy!
"In the primary, we were called the ‘Massachusetts moderate,’" Beeson notes. "[That’s helpful in Wisconsin’s] urban and even close-in suburban areas … Same thing in Madison, Green Bay, and Milwaukee. . . . that's where we won the Wisconsin primary… Romney runs better in those urban areas than the Republican presidential candidates have for the last two cycles."
If Wisconsinites buy Romney's ever-shifting position on the issues, and view Paul Ryan (who voted against extending unemployment benefits to displaced auto workers in his hard-hit district) as a champion of blue-collar workers, the cheese state will turn from blue to red.
How's that for cynicism?
If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Conservatives Forgive Mitt's Me-Too Debate Performance."
Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter