If Romney could put the state in play it would make for a much easier path for him to win enough electoral votes — but these polls suggest that's a tall order.

Michigan, where Romney grew up, has long been a swing state at the presidential level, but Obama won the state by a wide margin in 2008 after Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-Ariz.) cut off spending in the state in the closing weeks of the campaign.

There has been some disagreement about how competitive Michigan will be this time around. Democrats have expressed confidence they'll win Michigan running away and a strategist close to the Romney campaign told The Hill last week that the campaign had no plans to begin spending in the state, a sign it doesn't see Michigan as winnable.

But while the presidential campaigns haven't spent there, GOP outside groups led by the pro-Romney Restore Our Future have already spent more than $11 million in the state and went back on the air in Michigan on Wednesday.

Top Republican strategist Karl Rove predicted that the state "is going to be in play" during a debate in Lansing, Mich., with Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on Wednesday night. He pointed to the Restore Our Future spending, though his group, the deep-pocketed American Crossroads, has notably not spent a dime in the state.

Gibbs strongly disagreed, telling the crowd that there are eight or nine states that are competitive and "you guys aren't one of them."

"Maybe Michigan is a battleground state," he continued. "We're spending $10,000 here and I bet we don't have to spend a whole lot more here."

The Detroit News poll also showed Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowMich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead Report: GOP donors can't get in touch with Kid Rock Kid Rock denies press credentials to Detroit paper MORE (D-Mich.) with a big 16-point edge over former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the latest poll in the state to show her with a comfortable lead.