Politics is full of war metaphors, but both John McCain and the Democrats did something last week that Generals Lee or Patton or Schwarzkopf would have never done: Advertised their game plans to the enemy.
The McCain campaigned announced a tour of archetypical Dem communities such as black villages in Alabama and factory towns in Ohio, and also unveiled maps and strategies for 11 regions in the country, including four especially important swing states.
At the same time, a Democratic group called the Atlas Project headed by Steve Rosenthal, Mary-Beth Cahill and Michael Whouley leaked word to Ambinder that their project detailing the demographics and habits of voters in 15 battleground states is near completion.
Both sides have similar targets, but the McCain camp appears to be thinking more outside the box at this point. They announced that the candidate would be visiting the Black Belt in Alabama, which gave Kerry 62 percent in 2004; the depressed industrial town on Youngstown, Ohio, which gave Kerry 63 percent; and a village called Inez in Appalachian Kentucky, which is poor and conservative.
The McCain team also announced a geographic framework for the campaign in which the country would be divided into 11 regions, each with at least two swing states (The Electoral Map is working on acquiring the campaign map). Each will have a regional campaign manager, or “RCM,” according to Hotline On Call.
Along with the maps, they released Electoral College scenarios for McCain against each of the Democratic candidates. If Clinton is the nominee, the maps show McCain drubbing her, with 290 Electoral College votes to her 225, leaving 23 up for grabs. If it’s Obama, McCain starts with 253 to Obama’s 203, with 81 as toss-ups. This suggests that Clinton has a higher floor but Obama has a higher potential ceiling.
The McCain camp has also identified four states – Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Wisconsin – that will receive extra attention and financial support. Minnesota and Wisconsin are two of the most vulnerable blue states for Democrats and Colorado and New Mexico are two of the most uncertain states for Republicans.
It’s also an acknowledgment from the McCain camp that Colorado, a state that has given its Electoral College votes to the Republican candidate in nine out of 10 of the last presidential elections (the exception is 1992, when Ross Perot received 14 percent and Clinton took 40), is now a Tier I swing state.
For its part, the Atlas Project also has Colorado on its list of the 15 top battlegrounds. The other states include Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona – although Arizona has been dropped since McCain became the nominee.
According to Ambinder, “The plans contain more than just vote goals and targeting schemes; they include must-know items like the identities of all the union printers in the states. In Michigan, the plans include the dates of legal hunting seasons and football schedules for the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.”
Maybe one thing they didn’t catch when researching Big Blue football is that Bo Schembechler would have never released his game plan to Woody Hayes before a game.
McCain’s Poverty Tour
Alabama’s “Black Belt” — They say the term “Black Belt” refers to the dark soil, but the region is also very African-American, as this demographics map shows where more purple is more African-America. McCain is in Dallas County today, which is home to Selma.
Youngstown, Ohio — I’ll let the Boss explain it.