The Republican's team insists that he hasn't given up on the state and that he and his running mate, Paul Ryan, plan to spend more time in Iowa in the final weeks of the campaign.
"You're going to see the governor and Paul Ryan talking a lot directly to voters, having more opportunities to do that," campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said.
Aides argue that Romney has built a more sophisticated voter-contact system than Republican John McCain did in 2008, when Obama carried Iowa by 9 percentage points. And although Romney has only 14 staffed state campaign offices, compared with Obama's 67, Republicans say they have made more than 1 million contacts with voters by telephone and in person.
If the polls are right, the GOP ticket has a lot of ground to make up.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist Poll taken last week found Romney trailing Obama by 8 percentage points, a finding that mirrored recent internal polls from Democrats and Republicans alike. The poll also found that only 40 percent had positive feelings about Romney, down from 43 percent in May. Conversely, Obama saw his favorability rating improve to 53 percent from 48 percent over that same period.
Those figures illustrate why Obama's campaign is increasingly confident about its Iowa prospects even as aides say they expect the race to tighten somewhat as undecided voters focus on the election.
Democrats say Obama has benefited from his Iowa strategy of blanketing the state with eight presidential visits ahead of early voting. Obama hoped that his frequent visits, as well as constant appearances by Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama, would help him build a lead over Romney ahead of Election Day, when Republicans traditionally have had an edge.
Obama focused his attention on more populous and politically diverse eastern Iowa. The small and medium-sized cities, many with struggling manufacturing sectors, were friendly territory for Romney in the Iowa caucuses but now show him trailing Obama in internal polling. Obama's three-day, statewide trip in August touched down in less-traveled cities in north- and south-central Iowa. He also made a well-publicized visit to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.