Cohen adds that Romney is behind but can catch up. Nine of these states had primaries during the competitive phase of the nomination campaign.
Mr. Romney has many months to build that operation. In addition, once he is he official nominee, Mr. Romney will inherit the infrastructure being built by the Republican National Committee.
A national campaign’s localized outreach — field offices, staff and volunteers — helps a candidate contact voters in a more personal manner. Potential voters have been shown to be more receptive when contacted by someone in their community rather than by a television commercial or automated phone call.
In 2008, about a fourth of all voters were contacted in some way by the Obama campaign. Mr. McCain’s campaign contacted 18 percent of general-election voters. A FiveThirtyEight study from just after the 2008 election found that “each marginal 10-point advantage in contact rate translated into a marginal 3-point gain in the popular vote in that state.”
In 2008, Mr. Obama did not exactly need those few percentage points. But by many early measures, the 2012 election between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney is shaping up as a much closer race than the 2008 contest, and a couple percentage points won by the hard work of local get-out-the-vote operations could make the difference. Mr. Obama has an early, but by no means insurmountable, lead in building such an apparatus.