Category Archives: Virginia

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.


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.

Obama to Visit Virginia Coal Country

Barack Obama will campaign through the same Appalachian hamlets, hills and hollows on Thursday that thoroughly rejected him in his primary bid against Hillary Clinton.

He’ll start with a town hall meeting in Bristol, a small community on the Virginia-Tennessee border and the hometown of the legendary half-mile NASCAR track. From Bristol, the campaign will race up I-81to Abingdon, where Rep. Rick Boucher has his campaign offices. Boucher, you might remember, was an ardent support of Obama even as his district gave Clinton a walloping 30 point victory.

From Abingdon, he’ll turn west and hop over Clinch Mountain — yes, that’s the same mountain that gave its name to Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, the band that campaigned for former Gov. Mark Warner — to Castlewood where he’ll stop at the United Mine Workers office.

A few questions:

  • Will Jim Webb make an appearance? He has a family in nearby Buchanan County, where he beat George Allen with 55 percent and where Obama cobbled only nine points against Clinton.
  • Where’s Mudcat and what’s he going to be doing?
  • Will the Woods Brothers or maybe Ward Burton shoot up U.S. 58 from South Boston to stop by Bristol?
  • Will there be an sighting of the Bluegrass Brothers, a band that once reminded voters that “Mark Warner is a good ‘ol boy, From up in NoVA-ville. He understands our people, The folks up in the hills.”
  • And most importantly, can Obama make amends with the folks up in the hills?

After leaving Bobcat Country, Obama flies up to Prince William County outside of Washington for an appearance at Nissan Pavilion. The venue is about 45 minutes outside D.C. (allocate an hour and a half for a summer Jimmy Buffett show) and is classic exurbia. It’s right in the thick of what the Washington Post has described as the “Ring of Fire” of home foreclosures. Classic Applebee’s America.

It’s also chock full of young independent voters and is the kind of county that Obama needs to win if he hopes to take the Old Dominion’s 13 electoral votes in Novemberespecially is Appalachia decides that they’re not ready for the skinny black kid from Chicago with a funny name.

Virginia Democratic Electoral Map (Dave Leip’s Atlas) — Hillary Clinton is red; Barack Obama is green.

Virginia Democratic Electoral Map

Obama’s June, 5 Campaign Stops

Virginia Will be an Uphill Battle for Obama

I have a column running in Politico next week about how Virginia is going to be a tough state for Barack Obama. Not that he’s not well suited for Virginia — he’s a great candidate to win independents and run up the vote with liberals and African-Americans. But McCain is even stronger in Virginia.

Here’s a sneak-peak of the column. What do you think — Can Democrats really turn Virginia blue this November?

If you listen to most armchair pundits, you probably expect Virginia to be a pivotal swing state this November, or maybe even “up for grabs,” as one Washington Post reporter declared it recently. But the truth is that while Virginia is purpling, John McCain has advantages in the Old Dominion that few other candidates would have.

To be sure, Virginia Democrats do have reason to be optimistic: They won the Executive Mansion in 2005, took at Republican U.S. Senate seat in 2006 and reclaimed the state Senate in 2007. But in 2004, George W. Bush walked to an eight point victory in the commonwealth, which actually was a higher margin than he lost to John Kerry in the reliably blue state of New Jersey. Three and a half years later, Virginia will be more competitive, but Barack Obama – and the national media – shouldn’t underestimate just how well suited McCain is to win Virginia’s 13 electoral votes.

He starts with a strong base of military personnel, has solid support in Virginia’s key swing constituency of moderate Republicans and has a significant leg up over Obama in Appalachian hill country.

McCain’s NOVA Advantage

A McCain presidency means steady military spending which means a sustained flow of money to Northern Virginia’s economy.

Unlike other high-tech areas such as Silicon Valley or North Carolina’s Research Triangle, the seed money for NOVA’s booming Dulles Corridor came from Pentagon outsourcing that began in the Reagan and Clinton years and accelerated with Homeland Security outsourcing in the Bush years. As I wrote in National Journal in August, 2007:

“Major federal contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton, General Dynamics, and SAIC set up their headquarters in Fairfax. They, in turn, subcontracted work to what [Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry] Connolly calls ‘technology specialty’ firms, which then hired professionals such as lawyers and accountants. A snowball effect ensued. Fairfax welcomed 103,925 new jobs ‘over a 15-year period ending in 2005,’ according to a December 2006 report by Monthly Labor Review. ‘No other county in the Washington area came close.’”

The young professionals at those firms in Tyson’s Corner, Reston and Ashburn are part of Obama’s core constituency. But, the ideology and lifeblood of those firms is rooted in an aggressive foreign policy that is one part of the Bush legacy that McCain would be sure to continue.

Don’t get me wrong – This doesn’t mean McCain would win Fairfax County four years after Bush became the first Republican candidate to loose it in 40 years. What it means, however, is that NOVA will not be the kind of slam dunk for Democrats that it’s been in recent statewide elections.

Matt Bai Explains How Dems Win “Jesusland”

… By using Virginia’s own Mark Warner as an example. I watched Mark work the crowd of good ole boys at the Shad Planking in Tidewater Virginia, and it was the governor at his best. As Matt Bai explains, Dems don’t have to agree with rural voters on every issue, but they have to listen to them:

“Running for governor in 2001, Mr. Warner, a Harvard-trained lawyer who admitted he knew nothing about guns or Nascar, made it a priority to win over rural Virginians by essentially neutralizing cultural issues, so that he could talk about the economic concerns he really wanted to talk about. In some cases, that meant simply showing up; I remember accompanying Mr. Warner to the coal region’s fiddlers’ festival. In other cases, though, Mr. Warner’s strategy meant accepting compromises on core social issues.”

Virginia didn’t go blue in recent elections because of the liberal NoVA suburbs, as many national pundits might have you believe. Virginia has voted Dem recently because Virginia Dems know that it takes campaigning beyond the liberal NoVA suburbs to win.



Shad Planking Today!

I’m headed down to Southside today for the Shad Planking.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the event, Jonathan Martin‘s 2006 writeup sums it up best:

WAKEFIELD, VA — As it does every third Wednesday in April, VA’s political epicenter moved 40 miles east from Richmond to the piney woods outside of this small town yesterday. Known more for its free libations and easy access to many of the commonwealth’s most prominent pols than the nearly-inedible fish that gives the event its name, the Shad Planking is the can’t-miss rite of VA’s political spring. Part political festival, part booze fest, the gathering draws candidates, would-be candidates, past candidates and the junkies who love em all — and love the free draft beer they hand out even more.

Now in its 58th year, the Ruritan-sponsored soiree has changed some over the years — most conservative Dems have become conservative GOPers, blacks and women are now welcome and, perhaps more amazingly, Northern VA’ians are, too. Yet in many ways, it retains the same gossipy, back-slapping character it has had since they nailed the first freshly-caught, migrating shad to a board and cooked it over an open fire amid the peanut fields of Southside VA. Candidates shake hands, activists from all parts bend their ear, staffers pour cold ones in campaign cups and the locals ignore the hoopla for the fish, cole slaw and cornbread.

Martin’s article continued here.

I’ll have pictures and a writeup tomorrow.