Obama’s Anti-Kerry Strategy = Genius

In an interview with Politico‘s Ben Smith published this morning, Obama field director Steve Hildebrand vowed that their team would be spending a lot of time and money in Bush country this Fall. He named 14 red states, some of which were close in 2004 and some of which Kerry didn’t even consider, and he also vowed to give resources to down-ticket races in ruby red states like Bush’s Texas and Cheney‘s Wyoming.

The move is genius.

A big reason why Kerry lost is because he had tunnel vision and couldn’t see beyond a handful of competitive swing states in the Midwest, a failed strategy for several reasons: First, it oversaturates the target voters; secondly, it discourages friendly voters in unfriendly states (in this case Dems in red states) from getting involved; and thirdly and most importantly, it sends a very poor signal to the electorate in neglected states (in Kerry’s case the Heartland and South).

When a candidate puts all his chips on one hand, half of the time he’s going to end up felted.

Of course, resources are always an issue and something Kerry didn’t have in abundance. But as Smith notes in the Politico article, “Hilebrand’s plans underscore the unusual scope and ambition of Obama’s campaign, which can relatively cheaply extend its massive volunteer and technological resources into states which won’t necessarily produce electoral votes.”

And the ROI could be substantial. As Hokie fan Daivd “Mudcat” Saunders points out this week in the brilliant Weekly Standard cover piece “When Bubba Meets Obama,” when Dems pick off a Republican voter, it’s a “twofer” — one for Obama, and one less for McCain. Instead, Mudcat says, Dems often fall into the habit of “hunting squirrels they’ve already killed” (more on this story later).

Mudcat will probably be happy to know that the campaign has promised to contest 14 states that Bush carried in ’04 — “The closest four, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Nevada, [Hildebrand] said, would see ‘a ton of attention.'” The campaign also plans to fight for Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Georgia and Alaska. Hildebrand also said they’d be spending a lot of time in New Hampshire, and in my personal favorite: Nebraska’s 2nd District.

I think it’s a smart move, and one that will certainly give The Electoral Map a lot to talk about in upcoming months.

Electoral Map Daily Compass

  • FLORIDA: In a conference call, Rep. Robert Wexler (with Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz) suggests that McCain is “most anti-Florida candidate in modern history” [First Read].
  • INDIANA: A new makes me wonder if this state still Hoosier red [TPM Election Central].
  • ELECTORAL MAP: Another new poll finds Catholics are moving back to the Democrats. And don’t forget “There are plenty of Catholics in the Southwest, too — they are among John McCain’s target audiences.” [Ambinder]
  • ELECTORAL MAP: Paul Maslin, Tom Schaller, Andres Ramriez and Ross Douthat — a crack team — identify the 2008 swing states [Salon].
  • GEOGRAPHY: Why trains don’t work in America [Pajamas Media].

Ambinder’s Latest Electoral Map

Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder posted his prediction for the general election map last Friday, and I drew up this map of it.  McCain’s base is deep red; tilt McCain is pink; toss-up is yellow; tilt Obama is light blue; and Obama’s base is deep blue.

I would make Missouri and Virginia tilt McCain and make Nevada a toss-up, but other than that I agree with everything.

Ambinder’s Electoral Map

Ambinder\'s Electoral Map

The Five Places McCain Should Go

Cross-posted at The Next Right.

Politico‘s Charlie Mahtesian and Amie Parnes wrote an article yesterday about the “Five Places Obama Should Go,” and four out of the five areas they identified were places where he struggled against Clinton: Broward County, FL (Jews), Youngstown, OH (blue-collar, gun-owning Catholics), San Antonio (Latinos) and Mingo Couny, WV (“the heart of the anti-Obama belt”). The fifth suggestion — Maricopa County, AZ — was clearly aimed at McCain.

If four out of the five places Obama has to go are aimed at shoring up his base, it means he still has plenty of loose ends to tie up from the primary before he starts trying to win over independents and Republicans.

With that in mind, where are the five places that McCain should go?

This is a tough one, since most of his weaknesses seem to be more personal (age, speaking skills, Bush) rather than geographic. Still, I think visiting areas where Obama is vulnerable and putting him on the defensive would be a smart move — So, how about:

  1. Ohio River Valley Tour — From Pittsburgh to St. Louis — When it comes to the Ohio River Valley, the bad news for the GOP is that the party’s brand is in poor shape in this border region and has been resulting in substantial loses on the congressional level (think PA-04, OH-18, KY-03, IN-08 and IN-09, and the near-miss in OH-02). The good news for the GOP is that Obama is very unpopular here and was pummeled by Hillary in the primaries. In one trip, McCain could hit competitive areas in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri, while also challenging the myth that Kentucky could become competitve and even making a symbolic swing through the Land of Lincoln.
  2. Fairfield County, Conn. — A campaign stop with New York-area Jews and Joe Lieberman would inevitably shine a light on Obama’s comments about Iran and would fan media speculation that the state could become competitive. And Henry Kissinger lives in Kent, an hour up the beautiful Housatonic Valley from Fairfield County — perhaps he could lend an opinion on Obama’s foreign policy?
  3. Northern Suburbs of Milwaukee, Wis. — The suburbs will be key nationwide and Wisconsin is a vital target state for the GOP. The north and west ‘burbs of Milwaukee also “remain overwhelmingly Republican,” notes Democratic pollster Paul Maslin. But “If Obama can crack them to any degree he probably wins the state by several points.” Besides shoring up support with voters, a McCain appearance in the “Beer Capital of the World” would also remind the media that he’s the beer track candidate and Obama is the wine track one. It would also be smart to campaign with fellow Teddy Roosevelt Republican Tommy Thompson.
  4. Grand Rapids — Michigan might be Obama’s most blue vulnerable state and Gerald Ford’s hometown is at the ideological intersection of what Patrick Ruffini once called “the real dividing lines of” the GOP primary — wealthy suburbanites, religious conservatives and Ford-like mainline moderates. A smart sidekick would be Mitt Romney, who beat McCain in Grand Rapids by a 38-31% margin.
  5. Iowa, Early and Often — Iowa might be McCain’s most vulnerable state; he clearly has never built much of an operation here. He needs to visit Iowa… repeatedly.

Thoughts?

Electoral Map Daily Compass

The Daily Compass is back!

  • ALASKA: Nate Silver lays out the argument for an Obama trip to Alaska [FiveThirtyEight.com]
  • GEORGIA: InsiderAdvantage has Obama tied with McCain [Southern Political Report]
  • IOWA: McCain and Bush tour the Hawkeye State 60 miles apart [New York Times]
  • IOWA: SurveyUSA says Obama/Webb is the strongest Democratic ticket; McCain/Bloomberg is the best GOP one [Race 4 2008]
  • ELECTORAL MAP: The very real possibility that Obama wins the popular vote and looses the Electoral College [Politico]
  • ELECTORAL MAP: Obama‘s battleground states ad buy includes North Dakota, Montana, Alaska and Indiana but not New Jersey, Oregon and Washington [Politico‘s Ben Smith]
  • ELECTORAL MAP: The McCain camp is contesting 52 Democratic EV’s; the Obama team is going after 148 Republican EV’s [Cogitamus]

Obama Camp Says It Doesn’t Need Ohio or Florida

If you’ve lived in Miami, Ohio or Miami, Florida during the last few election cycles, you’ve probably grown accustomed to being lavished with attention — or maybe annoyed to exhaustion — by the political campaigns.

Well, last week the Obama camp declared that its road to the White House won’t necessary run through these behemoth battlegrounds. Cleveland and Cape Canaveral will be important campaign stops, but not the end-all-be-all’s that they use to be.

In a meeting with donors, manager David Plouffe suggested that while the campaign thinks it’s competitive in those two states and would like to win them, it doesn’t need them. “You have a lot of ways to get to 270,” Plouffe said, according to Huffington Post. “Our goal is not to be reliant on one state on November 4th.”

Plouffe pointed to a number of intriguing targets, with Virginia and Georgia on top of the list. If you’ve read my Politico column from today, “Virginia will be an uphill battle for Obama,” you’ll know the Old Dominion is not the lay-up that many in the Obama camp and national media think it is.

Georgia, however, is a fascinating prospect: I still think it’s out of reach for Democrats but if the African-American vote is boosted by, say, 500,000, as Ambinder thinks it could be, and Bob Barr runs strong in his home state, then the Peach State could be interesting.

Besides those two former linchpins of the Confederacy, the Obama camp also sees opportunities in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Alaska and North Dakota. He also noted that they need to watch their back in Michigan, Pennsylvania and especially New Hampshire.

North Carolina Watch: Obama Within MoE

A Rasmussen poll out today has McCain at 45% and Obama 43%, within the ±4% margin of error.  According to TPM Election Central, “the poll also found that 54% of respondents said it’s more important to bring the troops home form Iraq than it is to win the war, versus only 40% who think victory is more important than leaving — a very bad finding for McCain in this traditionally red state.”

North Carolina

Map compliments of Cartophilia.