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Marin: Obama going ‘hand to hand’ for every electoral vote

President Barack Obamspeaks campaign event Monday Toledo Ohio.  |  Tony Dejak~AP

President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event Monday in Toledo, Ohio. | Tony Dejak~AP

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Updated: October 5, 2012 6:20AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Is the Obama team worried?

“Democrats, oh yeah, they’re worried,” said David Yepsen on his mobile phone Monday as he was doing his regular Iowa-to-Illinois commute “from the land of hog farms to the land of Lincoln.”

Yepsen, variously referred to as “the king of the Iowa caucuses” and the “oracle” of the Des Moines Register, left his iconic 34-year reporting perch in 2009 to become the director of the Paul Simon Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

He sees a very tight race in battleground states.

“Look at what Barack Obama is doing with his time,” said Yepsen. “No one in Iowa has seen a president spend this much time in this state. ... I cannot recall a time in the history of the state when the president of the United States spent three days on a bus. It’s mano e mano. Put the county chairman on the bus. Schmooz him. Talk to him. It’s hand to hand.”

But doesn’t Iowa have just six measly electoral votes?

Bill Daley knows no electoral vote is measly — not even one.

The former Obama chief of staff was Al Gore’s campaign chairman in 2000. And he bears the battle scars of an election where his candidate won the popular vote but lost the electoral. Toss in some hanging chads and an unsympathetic Supreme Court and Gore was a goner. George W. Bush walked into the White House.

Daley said even though Gore “lost Florida, Ohio, Arkansas and Tennessee,” a win in one small state would have put him over. “New Hampshire, there’s four votes.”

And those four electoral votes would have flipped the outcome.

Daley told the Daily Beast’s Jim Warren last month that given the potential closeness of this race, the Obama camp should, protectively, prepare for a recount.

Meanwhile, Democratic operatives are peppering Yepsen with the kind of questions he’s accustomed to asking them. Like how do they “reach undecided young people not going to college” or “single moms under 30 ... a good demographic but with horrible turnout proclivities.”

In other words, not just women but specific subsets of women. And young people.

“The Democrats are asking reporters how do we reach undecided young people not going to college? They’re really slicing and dicing this,” he said.

Here’s why:

According to CNN in May, of the “86 million people who didn’t have a job ... young people between 16 and 24” are 20 percent of that number, more than half of whom “don’t have a college degree and more than two thirds are white.”

That’s why in Tampa, Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan targeted those young adults who still live in their childhood bedrooms staring up at “fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”

Both camps are worried.

So many variables. So little time.

Then again, worry is a way to get good and ready.

The president arrives here on Wednesday.

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