IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

When news emerged that the Obama campaign was running ads in and sending a key staffer to Indiana, the first reaction from some was that this might be a "head-fake" designed to trick the McCain campaign into wasting resources in a state that will likely follow its tradition in 2008 by voting GOP on the presidential level. Maybe not. Here's SurveyUSA:

In an election today in Indiana, Barack Obama takes 48% of the vote, John McCain 47% of the vote -- a statistical tie -- according to this latest SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WHAS-TV Louisville and WCPO-TV Cincinnati. Obama's 1-point lead is within the survey's 4 percentage point margin of sampling error, and these results should be reported as a tie. Among men, McCain leads by 5; among women, Obama leads by 7 -- a 12-point gender gap. Among voters age 18 to 49, Obama leads by 5; among voters 50+, McCain leads by 3. Obama leads by 22 points among voters under age 35. 16% of Republicans cross over to vote for Democrat Obama; 19% of Democrats cross over to vote for Republican McCain; Independents favor Obama by 7 points. Among those voters who say they have already made up their minds, the two candidates are tied; among the 25% who say they could still change their mind, Obama leads by 2.

Think this poll is a mere aberration, an outlier that shows Obama unusually and incorrectly strong in his neighboring state of Indiana? The Pollster.com trend estimate, which tracks all of the recent polling from the state, doesn't, showing Obama leading by an average of 48 percent to 47 percent. Neither does Real Clear Politics, which shows Obama up 47.0 percent to 46.5 percent, or Five Thirty Eight, which shows Obama up 46.5 percent to 45.4 percent and gives the Illinois Democrat at 55 percent shot of carrying Indiana (a state it now calls a "tossup").

These numbers underscore a couple of important points. First, the maps from previous years cannot be taken for granted as the starting point for this fall's election. They just can't. The country has changed and moved a significant amount during the last four years, and the internal politics in a number of states have shifted dramatically during this time (think states like Ohio and New Hampshire tending to move towards the Democrats, or a state like Louisiana moving towards the GOP). Second, campaigning matters. Nate Silver suggests this point as one explanation for the latest Indiana numbers: "Apart from Obama being a Midwesterner, the explanation for his results in Indiana may be as simple as this: the Democrats had never really bothered to compete in the state before, until the presence of an important primary there forced them to." That's spot on. You campaign somewhere, you move numbers (but not necessarily always upwards -- see: Rudy Giuliani). If you cower away and refuse to play in states you think you'll lose, you're going to lose those states.

Does this mean that Obama has Indiana in the bag because he waged a competitive primary there, because he has sent a top political staffer there, and he is willing to invest advertising dollars there? No. But at the same time, the Obama campaign has now put Indiana, a state the Democrats last carried during the 1964 presidential election and only won four times during the 20th century, into play, a big achievement that almost undoubtedly increases his shot at winning the White House come November.

Tags: IN-Pres, Indiana, White House 2008 (all tags)

Comments

18 Comments

Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

Lest it be forgotten: this spring, the 2nd-ever Muslim in Congress, André Carson, was elected in Indianapolis with the support of Barack Obama (and vice-versa)

by Wilson46201 2008-06-25 03:53AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

You know, it funny.  For a long time, I was really annoyed that the electoral map here at MyDD never bothered to update Indiana after early polls that showed Obama up swung back toward McCain.  Polls showed it close, but the last couple polls showed that McCain was ever so slightly ahead, and I'd prefer realistic expectation setting.

Apparently, you guys knew something I didn't.  Now I'm just waiting for a new Ohio poll to turn the entire Great Lakes region blue.  :)

by hello world 2008-06-25 04:40AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

Why do expectations matter any more?  The general is all on one day.  If Obama doesn't win IN is that going to affect OH somehow?

by thezzyzx 2008-06-25 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

They don't really, except to keep people later on, if the polls tighten up from going, "OMG, Obama is blowing it!!1!"

It's a pet peeve of mine from before Clinton dropped, and her poll numbers so inflated while Obama's were depressed by the Nobama crowds.  The maps bugged me at the time, because even if Obama went on to win in November by 271 electoral votes, there will be some people that will say, "See, Clinton would have won Arkansas and gotten a REAL mandate".

It doesn't mean much, but as the summer goes by, watch for expectation trolling from certain corners.  Not that we're not seeing it already.

by hello world 2008-06-25 09:43AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

I think having the ground game set up is tremendous, now it's time to get the message out, start talking more and more policy and less and less of the funny stuff, eople want leaders on the issues and I think we're seeing that shift start from BHO, which is great.

by Dog Chains 2008-06-25 04:49AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

IN has LOTS of swing voters.  In 04, Bayh pulled in about 64% of the vote.  That means a whopping 24% (minimum) split their ballots.  

Mitch is unpopular and polling below 50%.  Mitch is saying how great the IN economy is and people don't like being taken for fools. Prior to Mitch, the Dems had the Gov for 16 years.  

Our problem is entrenched GOP state senators that have blocked progress for several decades.

Ackerson (D) is raising more money than Buyer (R)(I) in the overwhelming GOP 4th district and causing Buyer to spend money and campaign seriously for the first time in a decade.  If Ackerson can pull this off (Buyer is hugely unpopular with veterans) and Montagano ousts Souder and we hold the 3 Dem pickups from 06, we could have 6 of the 7 seats.

by bakho 2008-06-25 04:54AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

Let's not forget that by competing in these states, it also helps down ticket Democrats, even state legislative races.  Don't think that's too important?  Well, who do you think redraws the Congressional district maps after the 2010 census?  Do you want Republicans or Democrats drawing those maps?

by minvis 2008-06-25 05:20AM | 0 recs
State legislatures *definitely* matter

One of our biggest achievements in 2006 was to turn a lot of state legislatures blue.  Like you say, we definitely need to keep that rolling in 2008 and especially 2010, so that Dems draw the Congressional map for the following decade.

by RT 2008-06-25 05:27AM | 0 recs
Re: State legislatures *definitely* matter

I believe I read on Political Wire that the Obama campaign will be competing in places like Texas expressly for this reason.  They know that they probably won't win the state, but they want to influence the down ticket races.  It just seems like their campaign just gets it.  They are seeing this election as a chance at Democratic victory not just their victory.

by minvis 2008-06-25 05:37AM | 0 recs
Re: State legislatures *definitely* matter

That part about campaigning in Texas for state-level redistricting that won't happen until 3 years from now shows how much thought the Obama team is putting into their strategic decisions.

I like it.

by barath 2008-06-25 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

See articles I just posted in diaries. The campaign is well aware of this and is planning accordingly.

by conspiracy 2008-06-25 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

What you see here is the effects of somebody who has twice as much money as his opponent. Barack Obama can make John McCain spend money in all types of places that the GOP usually doesn't. This is the offensive that $230M brings you that public financing can't.

"Broke Republican candidate" Get used to it folks. LOL....

by xodus1914 2008-06-25 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

This only happens when we keep contributing.

So, if you want to see the Indiana's and Texases and Montana's and North Carolinas of this country turn blue, we need to contribute regardless of what the poll numbers say.  That's what I've been doing anyway.

by hello world 2008-06-25 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

I'm just kind of throwing this out there, but the could the close race in Indiana be due to the fact that Obama is from Chicago? I know Lake County is very Democratic, but is he getting an inordinate amount of support from Northwest Indiana because of his Chicago ties?

There's something to be said for the campaigning as mentioned in the post, but I think geography might be playing a role of some type here.

by Double B 2008-06-25 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

You can tell you aren't from the Hoosier State ;)

Chicago and its politics are largely reviled, particularly in the Northwest portion of the state (greater Chicago if you will).  It's not infrequent for campaigns to attack each other for using "Chicago-style politics."

Culturally, Indiana is the northern-most "Southern" state, and was once run by the KKK.  That Obama is even competitive here is nothing short of amazing.  The reason he's competitive is because people here are hurting under 8 years of Republican leadership.  That, and he's giving us attention.

by Vox Populi 2008-06-25 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

Union voters have always supported Evan Bayh  because he supported them.  With Delphi shut down and UAW jobs being shed daily, the mood is pretty ugly.  Tone deaf John McCain needs to keep talking about the wonders of NAFTA and he will lose IN by double digits.

by bakho 2008-06-25 07:15AM | 0 recs
Here's why I think this year is different.

Most people who usually vote Republican have in mind lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, less government intrusion, less government spending, etc.  Kind of libertarian-lite.  

Pretty much everyone in the country knows the Republicans have had full control for 8 years (all 3 branches in their control for 6 of 8).  Those people look at the country and see that none of the promised 'conservative' issues were implemented.

Reagan vs. Bush:  I voted for Reagan (once) because he promised to balance the budget.  When he not only didn't but didn't even try, I learned my lesson and never voted Republican again.  There are lots of centrist Dems, Independents, and moderate (fiscal) Republicans who have learned the lesson I learned back then.

Richard Nixon vs. George Bush:  Republicans took a beating after Nixon was shown to have been a liar and a cheat.  And now we have Bush who has been shown to be a liar and a cheat.

Social conservatives (the sane ones) usually vote Republican because of the historical sterotype of tight-assed, follow the rules, go to church, missionary position only upstanding citizens.  The number of sexual scandals including pedophilia, use of prostitutes and extra-marital dallying of one sex or another kind of takes the credibility out of the old sterotype.

by GFORD 2008-06-25 09:32AM | 0 recs
Re: IN-Pres: Campaigning Matters

And here I thought Obama Singer was off to greener pastures... oh well...

Here's the larger MSM meme, in case you are wondering (or if you are a non-Kool-Aid drinker):
Build Obama up now in the polls and then drop him into a dogfight that he'll lose.  

Unfortunately, the big story this fall will be the McCain resurgence.  Feel the buzz.

by krj47 2008-06-25 10:33AM | 0 recs

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