A stark example, spotlighted recently by The Washington Post, is in the southern Iowa town of Lineville, which straddles the Missouri border. Those on the Missouri side have received no attention from the presidential candidates. Residents on the other side, in too-close-to-call Iowa, have been virtually stalked by the campaigns. That phenomenon brings up another anomalous aspect of American-style democracy in the 21st century: Only swing voters in swing states matter, and there are fewer of both than in any time in recent U.S. history -- at a time of incomparably large campaign war chests.
“Never has so much money been spent,” Obama pollster Joel Benenson told RCP, “in pursuit of so small a group of voters.”
Not all that long ago, this country held presidential elections in which the two major party tickets had to compete, and win, in the populous states of California, Texas, Illinois, and Pennsylvania -- while Missouri and New Mexico were reliable bellwether states.
Today, there are no bellwethers, only battlegrounds -- and they are few. Of the nation’s large states, only Ohio and Florida were actively contested this election cycle, and when pro-Romney forces made their late push in Pennsylvania, senior Obama adviser David Plouffe ridiculed the GOP gambit as “a desperate ploy,” while his colleague David Axelrod vowed to shave his mustache if Romney carried Pennsylvania, Michigan or Minnesota.