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Battleground states shift this campaign

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
President Barack Obama, left, and Mitt Romney AP Photo

(CBS News) There are certain places that consistently get a lot more attention from politicians running for president than others. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida to name a few.

But this year, the list looks a little bit different. Missouri isn't on it, while Michigan and Iowa are.

Missouri, traditionally a moderate state that swings back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, has become more conservative and is now considered to be "leaning" toward the GOP by political analysts.

President Obama's re-election campaign is expected to abandon expensive efforts to make Missouri competitive, according to USA Today, which cited a top executive at a firm that tracks political ad spending closely.

"Missouri is not on the presidential TV radar screen right now," said Elizabeth Wilner, a vice president at Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group, the paper reported, noting that about $8.4 million was spent on political ads in Ohio and from April 10 to May 29, while Virginia and Pennsylvania each saw slightly more than $4 million spent in that period.

While Missouri has fallen off the electoral battleground chart, Michigan is in play for the first time in close to three decades, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Michigan has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, when Ronald Reagan swept the country in a landslide victory over former vice president Walter Mondale.

But recent polls show presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama running neck and neck in the Wolverine state. Romney grew up there and his father was a top auto executive who later served as governor.

EPIC-MRA released a survey in early June that showed Romney besting Mr. Obama by 46 percent to 45 percent, though that was within the four point margin of error. Still, Mr. Obama was ahead just two months earlier 47 percent to 43 percent and in January, the president was leading Romney 48 percent to 40 percent.

"Michigan has been only marginally on the Democratic side of the tally. This is not California," Vincent Hutchings, a professor at the University of Michigan's Center for Political Studies, told the newspaper. "The economy continues to sputter. ... Fairly or unfairly, the incumbent gets blamed for that."

And Iowa, accustomed to being the center of the political universe when the race gets started in early January every four years, now wants in on the action at the finish line.

The Los Angeles Times notes that Des Moines and Cedar Rapids are seeing outsized spending on presidential ads and visits from both Romney and Mr. Obama. According to the publication's calculations, Romney has been to the Hawkeye state three times since April, while Mr. Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden have been nine times this year.

"This level of attention this early is unprecedented and a recognition that no matter what model you have in getting to 270 electoral votes, Iowa is in the vast majority of those models," a spokesman for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad told the Times.

Still, it could be tough road for Romney in Iowa. The state has only voted for a Republican presidential candidate once since the Reagan landslide, when President George W. Bush bested Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

And the unemployment rate there, 5.1 percent, is sharply lower than national rate of 8.2 percent, making Romney's central argument about the economy tougher to make.

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