Category Archives: Barack Obama

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.



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.

Obama Has No Chance in Arkansas

In the wake of Democratic Rep. Dan Boren‘s (D) refusal to endorse Barack Obama, Arkansas News columnist John Brummett suspects that the Oklahoma congressman’s uneasiness with Obama extends across the border:

“Obama can’t compete in Arkansas without Hillary as his running mate. Obama is going to get pummeled in Oklahoma either way because Oklahoma is Arkansas without those enlightened (or static, if you prefer) Democratic influences. The point is that, for all the talk of a new day and of a race that is the Democrats to lose, the Democrats find themselves in old and familiar territory. That is to say they have a nominee whose competitiveness seems foreclosed in large sections of the country, primarily ours.”

Could Obama Really Win a State in the South?

If Barack Obama wins any of the states in the former Confederacy, it’ll probably be Virginia or North Carolina. But a few analysts have suggested that he could boost African-African turnout across the rest of the south — the Deep South, mind you — to make some really red states competitive. Chuck Todd and Marc Ambinder, who were both my bosses at The Hotline and who are two brightest political minds I know, have hinted that Obama could make Georgia and Mississippi interesting.

Chuck wrote in March that “Mississippi is one of those rare Southern states that might be in play in the general election if Obama becomes the nominee. One Dem statistician tells First Read that there are three red states that could swing if African-American turnout was ever maximized (both in registration and in actual turnout): Georgia, Louisiana and, yes, Mississippi. So don’t assume this is just one of those untouchable red states.”

Marc took it a step further in May and broke down the actual numbers, asking, “Did you know that a half a million African Americans in Georgia are eligible to vote but haven’t registered? The Obama campaign knows this. And they plan to register these voters by November, campaign folks say.” The Southern Political Report noted on Tuesday that the DCCC and DSCC have already registered 70,000 new voters in some Louisiana parishes.

Stateline also took a look at it on Tuesday and noted that “Some Democrats hold out hope that Obama could actually win one of the six Southern states that he won so convincingly during the primary season — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina — all of which have voted strongly Republican in recent presidential elections.” But the key phrase from that observation might have been that Dems are “holding out hope,” because after all, it’ll be a long shot.

Tom Schaller, another superb political handicapper, actually crunched the numbers (something that no one else has done), and found that Obama is facing steep odds. In a conversation about white voters posted on Salon, Schaller presented his data:

“I did a correlation between the black share of statewide population in the 11 Confederate states and the share of Bush‘s support among white voters, and it correlates at .76 with all 11 confederate states and if you take Texas out, which Bush obviously did well in, though it has a relatively low black population, with a data set of just 10 data points, it correlates at .9. Human height and weight doesn’t correlate at .9. With 10 data points, it’s ridiculous. I don’t even think this is an empirical matter of dispute.”

Schaller has a point and his numbers are tough to argue with.  But if Obama’s campaign is really about redrawing the electoral map and scrapping the old Clinton-Bush model, then he needs to leave no stone unturned and leave no county uncontested.

The Significance of Obama’s Raleigh Visit

The Obama camp has repeatedly boasted they can win North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes, so it’s no surprise that the campaign visited Raleigh to kick off its economic tour.  As I wrote last year my National Journal article “Is North Carolina the New Virginia?,” the Research Trinagle around Raleigh is changing in many of the same ways that Northern Virginia changed 15 years ago, and in turn, is increasingly influencing statewide elections the way NoVA does.

I emailed Ferrell Guillory, director of the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill, and asked what he thought about Obama’s chances in North Carolina in 2008. This is what he told me:

“The embedded GOP general election vote surely makes McCain the frontrunner in N.C. Still, like Virginia, NC going through a transition, economically and socially that will eventually have a ripple effect politically. I’d say Virginia is somewhat farther along that N.C. in that transition. If Obama has any chance here, he clearly — emphatically — must stimulate a strong turnout in Raleigh and Research Triangle environs, not only among black citizens but also among independent high-tech folks and young newly arrived voters. It makes sense for the Obama campaign to make an early stop here to assess the situation — and determine later whether it’s worth investing more time and resources to the state. To win N.C., he has to change the dynamic.”

Washington Post’s “Lowest Common Denominator” Map

WaPo’s Dan Balz has an A1 story today explaining the 2008 electoral map to what one might call casual observers of the race. So the article covers most of the CW — Obama will target new battlegrounds like Virginia and Colorado, McCain has his sights on Michigan, the Midwest is pivotal, and so on… — but Balz also drops a couple of interesting stats that I didn’t know:

“States the Democrats have won in four of the past five elections add up to 255 electoral votes; states Republicans have won in five of the past seven elections (including two Ronald Reagan electoral landslides) account for 269 electoral votes. New Hampshire, New Mexico and West Virginia, representing 14 electoral votes, fall into neither category.”

It’s striking that the GOP has such a high electoral floor.

It’s also interesting that New Hampshire and West Virginia seem be going through these fundamental political transformations. West Virginia was once a lynchpin in the New Deal Democratic coalition, voting for the Democratic presidential candidate in elections from 1920 to 2000 with the exceptions of the GOP landslides of 1954, ’72 and ’84. And the Granite State’s DNA is so Republican that the Legislature was in GOP hands from 1911 to 2004, when the Dems took it over.

Balz also notes that “In 2004, 13 states were decided by seven or fewer percentage points: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”

One state in that list stuck out for me: New Jersey. Bush lost here by only seven points, which was a smaller margin that he won the supposedly battleground state of Virginia. So the question is: is New Jersey really a swing state (Bush Sr. won here in 1988), or was it a 9/11 anomaly? And more importantly, how much time and money does McCain want to spend here in 2008?