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.



3 responses to “The Five Places McCain Should Go

  1. It may seem a bit early to be writing off states, but I don’t think McCain should be targeting WI. Aside from a poll from Rasmussen two months ago, WI has been polling consistently strong for Obama(a 6-8 point lead in a swing state), MUCH more so than it did for Kerry. Same thing with Iowa. Together its 17 electoral votes, and I think there is an opportunity cost for McCain by spending time and resources in these states instead of Michigan (also 17 EV), where Obama is polling suprisingly weak, in a state where there is frustration at democratic government in Detroit and Lansing, and a state where the GOP has made serious inroads in the past decade.

  2. As a resident of Fairfield County, I couldn’t agree more with a possible McCain trip here. Western Connecticut is much less left-leaning then the rest of the state and if anything he could surely tap some of the Gold Coast’s financial resources. His campaign stop here before the Super Tuesday primaries was nothing short of electric. Seems like a sound strategy to at least draw on the NY metro news and but Obama on the defensive, even if McCain will never quite get over the top in polling.

  3. Fairfield County is a bastion of liberals and Rockefeller Republicans, and tends to dislike any semblance of conservatism. Lieberman also didn’t do to well there against Lamont; he did better in socially conservative blue-collar towns scattered around the state.

    Also, Fairfield County’s Jewish population pales in comparison to the New Haven and Hartford areas, and the Jews in the county tend to be very liberal anyway, so it would be a waste of time for him to be there.

    Plus, it would force the CT media to ask why Joe is campaigning with McCain instead of doing his day job…

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