Bob's Blog: Battling in the states

Jobs numbers came out today and they are not good, and they haven't been good in a lot of months. The numbers show a rise in the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent, even though employers added 163,000 jobs, the most workers in five months. Now both sides are going to take these numbers and write their own stories with them. The Democrats will zero in on that 163,000 number, and the Republicans will use the 8.3 percent. Mitt Romney's already calling them a "hammer blow to struggling middle-class families." Both sides are taking hold of these numbers and using them in their own ways because they know this election is going to come down to the economy. You talk to some Obama strategists and they'll tell you, a little off the record, that while Romney's got his Bain capital record to contend with, the president has these numbers to contend with.

So it's going to come down to these economic numbers, and it will be decided by a very small group of people in some key battleground states. That's what we're focusing on Sunday on Face the Nation. What's interesting this time around is that so many people have already made up their minds in this campaign. In these battleground states it's only about 10 percent who say they haven't made up their minds, and of the half of those who are leaning one way or another, they say they could still change their mind before election day. So this election is going to come down to a very small number of voters.

Right now in those battleground states it looks like the president is up, according to our CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac battleground polls in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

David Axelrod, a senior strategist for the Obama campaign, told Nancy Cordes in this week's "Face to Face" that "one thing I've learned in a long career in this business is not to get too exhilarated about encouraging numbers, not to get too despairing about discouraging numbers, but to keep working." (link to Face to Face) I think he's got the right attitude about these numbers. I think the only thing that's safe to assume is that this race is now in a range of one to five percentage points. But week-to-week, who's leading by one or five points could change and is anyone's guess.

Face to Face: Obama strategist ready for "close election"

Because these battleground states are so important, I'm really looking forward to sitting down on Sunday with Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., former Gov. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, former Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Penn., and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. I'm sure they'll all have some interesting insight to share.

After talking to them, I'll turn to a great panel of journalists for more analysis. Michael Crowley of TIME has a really intriguing profile of Karl Rove in the magazine this week. He writes, "The man Bush dubbed the Architect is back, leading a conservative money machine that could swamp Democrats this fall and, Rove hopes, re-establish the Republican dominance that slipped through his fingers in the late Bush era."  I'm anxious to talk to him about these Super PACs that have been pouring so much money into the campaign. We'll also talk to Bloomberg's Julianna Goldman and our very own Nancy Cordes and Jan Crawford, who cover the Romney and Obama campaigns.

Michael Crowley's story in TIME, The Return of Karl Rove

Finally, we'll air that interview I taped last week with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that we couldn't get to last week with all the news.

I hope you'll join me on Sunday. Check your local listings so you know where to find us on TV.

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