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Voters weren’t sure they were now considered a swing state, but enjoyed the attention at least for this year.

Joe Borri, 50, who lives in the Detroit suburbs, said they got a few visits from the likes of Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, and said the same messages that played elsewhere could have worked for Mr. Romney.

“Michigan is not disparately far geographically from Ohio — and we all know the importance of Ohio to the electoral count — so perhaps the party’s resources are able to be used more efficiently in this election, which everyone seems to predict will be hanging-chad close,” he said.

Democrats dismissed Mr. Romney’s forays into places like Pennsylvania, saying it reminded them of 2004, when Mr. Bush deployed Vice President Dick Cheney to Hawaii after a poll showed the GOP could be within striking distance.

Mr. Bush ended up losing Hawaii by 9 percentage points anyway.

Democrats said part of the reason Mr. Romney was suddenly competing in Pennsylvania was because the GOP campaign had extra cash that couldn’t be used in Ohio, where all available commercial air time was sold out.

“They’re throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick,” Obama adviser David Plouffe told MSNBC on Tuesday morning.

What happens next time around depends on how the parties regroup. Usually, losers spend time thinking about what stances proved to be losers. But that doesn’t always happen.

“If the party digs in its heels and says all is well except for a ‘bad candidate,’ then another loss awaits,” Mr. Sabato said.

Andrea Billups reported from Michigan.