As the two competing presidential tickets battle over a handful of important swing states, there is one undervalued advantage for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in those states: 2010. The tea party had significant gains in almost every state that matters this year, and those victories give Romney and Ryan valuable people to campaign with as the hop from state to state. Just as importantly, it reduces the star-power in each state that the Obama campaign has to campaign with. (And in many of these swing states, the Democrats who do hold office are trying to distance themselves from the administration anyway.)
In Wisconsin, Romney can now campaign with Governor Scott Walker and US Senator Ron Johnson. The other US Senate seat is currently held by a Democrat, but he is calling it quits. in that open US Senate seat the Republicans have a very good shot at scoring an upset, and that could ramp up get-out-the-vote efforts on their behalf. Add to the mix VP choice Paul Ryan and Wisconsin has a boatload of talent to campaign with the GOP ticket, that did not exist four years earlier.
In Florida, Republican Mel Martinez held the US Senate seat back during the 2008 campaign, but Marco Rubio adds far more star power to the campaign trail. The Republicans also have Gov. Rick Scott and have a heavy advantage of congressman throughout the state, including Allen West. There is no shortage of Republicans in the state to campaign with. On the Democratic side, Bill Nelson holds the other US Senate seat and is the sole significant Democrat in the state. After voting for Obamacare, he has been doing everything he can to reposition himself as a moderate. Polls have shown his popularity has dropped dramatically and it remains to be seen how interested he will be in tying his ship to the Obama campaign.
Other swing states show much of the same. Virginia has Gov. Bob McDonnell and a handful of statewide candidates elected by huge margins in 2010. There is an open US Senate race that features the return of once-popular Sen. George Allen, who could be a huge asset if his popularity returns. In Ohio, John Kasich took the Governor's seat for Republicans while Rob Portman was a significant upgrade in the senate seat. In Iowa, Republicans retained control of their US Senate seat and picked up the Governor's mansion. Governor and congressional seats were also picked up in Nevada, Michigan, and New Mexico.
In 2008, the Democratic ticket was bolstered by sweeping wins in 2006 that offered plenty of ground support for the Obama campaign. 2012 is almost a complete reversal of that trend, and the GOP ticket now has the advantage of state-level support from numerous elected officials. More importantly, these officials are not shying away from the Romney campaign or agenda. Compare this to swing states Missouri and North Carolina for the Democrats. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill is avoiding the Democratic convention next month, and will probably avoid the Democratic candidate as much as possible. In North Carolina, the sitting Democratic governor is so unpopular she isn't even trying for re-election and a handful of congressman are avoiding the convention as well. And the convention is being held in their state.