Today's Quinnipiac poll showing Obama up 13 in Wisconsin and 17 in Minnesota seems to be turning a lot of heads. (The poll also has Obama up five in Colorado and six in Michigan.) In principle, numbers like this can make you think McCain should fold in the upper Midwest and double-down in Ohio and Michigan, where the odds look more favorable. In practice, that would probably be a disaster, since it would leave Obama with fewer states to defend and let him be more aggressive in suddenly-competitive states like Virginia. 

So, if anything, I'd guess this helps the cause of a guy like Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty almost certainly won't deliver Minnesota to McCain, much less Wisconsin (as some in the McCain camp have suggested). But Pawlenty's presence on the ticket could force Obama to spend resources in these two states in a year he might have gotten away with neglecting them, which is not nothing.

--Noam Scheiber