Barack Obama's 50-State Campaign

A couple weeks ago I noted how Barack Obama was approaching the point at which he had campaigned in all 50 states during the primary elections, an indication of the type of map-changing campaign he intended to run in 2008. Now The New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny have looked at Obama's organization and plans for the next few weeks and have come to see that he indeed intends to work to win states the Democrats haven't carried in decades, broadening the party's path to winning back the White House in November.

Senator Barack Obama's general election plan calls for broadening the electoral map by challenging Senator John McCain in typically Republican states -- from North Carolina to Missouri to Montana -- as Mr. Obama seeks to take advantage of voter turnout operations built in nearly 50 states in the long Democratic nomination battle, aides said.

On Monday, Mr. Obama will travel to North Carolina -- a state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 32 years -- to start a two-week tour of speeches, town hall forums and other appearances intended to highlight differences with Mr. McCain on the economy. From there, he heads to Missouri, which last voted for a Democrat in 1996. His first campaign swing after securing the Democratic presidential nomination last week was to Virginia, which last voted Democratic in 1964.

[...]

Mr. Obama's aides said some states where they intend to campaign -- like Georgia, Missouri, Montana and North Carolina -- might ultimately be too red to turn blue. But the result of making an effort there could force Mr. McCain to spend money or send him to campaign in what should be safe ground, rather than using those resources in states like Ohio.

Mr. Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, said that the primary contest had left the campaign with strong get-out-the-vote operations in Republican states that were small enough that better-than-usual turnout could make a difference in the general election. Among those he pointed to was Alaska, which last voted for a Democrat in 1964.

"Do we have to win any of those to get to 270?" Mr. Plouffe said, referring to the number of electoral votes needed to win the election. "No. Do we have reason to think we can be competitive there? Yes. Do we have organizations in those states to be competitive? Yes. This is where the primary was really helpful to us now."

[...]

A Republican strategist said that, according to party monitoring services, Mr. Obama's campaign had inquired about advertising rates in 25 states, including traditionally Republican states like Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. That would constitute a very large purchase. President Bush, whose 2004 campaign had the most expensive advertising drive in presidential history, usually ran commercials in a maximum of 17 states.

Does this mean that Obama will be shirking his responsibility of putting forward a strenuous effort in the traditional swing states? Of course not. Indeed, Nagourney and Zeleny report that in Ohio, for instance, Obama is hiring Aaron Pickrell, Governor Ted Strickland's top strategist who also helped Hillary Clinton win the state's primary in March. Likewise, even if Obama does extend by nearly a half the record number of states to be advertised in this year, several of them (including Michigan and Pennsylvania) will be states that the Democrats have carried in years past, swing states that are key to getting to 270 electoral votes.

But putting the McCain camp on its heels and forcing Republicans to actually have to campaign in states like North Carolina, Mississippi, Alaska -- states they haven't seriously fought for in any recent presidential election (and states in which the presence of former Congressman Bob Barr on the ballot as the Libertarian Party nominee could help make Obama's task more than a bit easier) -- almost undoubtedly will make it easier for Obama to succeed this fall (just as Democrats campaigning across the country in 2006, even in very red corners of the nation, increased the possibility of retaking the House and the Senate).

Tags: 2008, 50 State (all tags)

Comments

81 Comments

The organization he showed in the primaries

will be reflected several times fold in the general election. I love it.

by Firewall 2008-06-08 12:16PM | 0 recs
It's a very aggressive strategy

and the Dems should never cede any state or congressional district to the GOP. We should attack attack attack the morally bankrupt and corrupt party at every turn IMO.

by LiberalDebunker 2008-06-08 12:17PM | 0 recs
Make McCain spend $$$ on his home state!

McCain is actually ten points ahead of Obama in his home state, Arizona, and that's not a good position to be in. I'd love for Obama to make McCain spend millions of dollars to keep Arizona in his column.

by slinkerwink 2008-06-08 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's 50-State Campaign

I'm excited.

If we can harness the fundraising efforts that've been so successful for Democrats during the primaries, and put McCain on the defensive in places he should never have to fight in...

by ragekage 2008-06-08 12:22PM | 0 recs
McCain's swing state strategy

I fear that McCain won't call Obama's red-state bluff and instead continue to eat into Obama's precarious standing in swing states like FL and OH.

In the end, it may be that Obama would be in danger of wasting resources in places like AL, GA, and NC, instead of solidly winning the more traditional swing states.

Of course, if Obama is awash in campaign contributions, then he can afford to "waste" money on the reddest states.  But hubris is dangerous, and could be lethal to our efforts to win the White House this year.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 12:24PM | 0 recs
It's not a bluff

Obama is actually going to compete in traditionally red states. The Kerry strategy of betting everything on two or three swing states failed; it's time to try something different.

by Angry White Democrat 2008-06-08 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

The "Kerry strategy" of betting everything on two or three swing states failed because Kerry failed as a candidate.

If he won those swing states, we'd be in a different  universe today, would we?

I just fear that with the hubris that accompanies the rise of Obama can lead us to bite more than we can chew.  Let's face it, the red states are full of people who won't ever, under any circumstance, vote for Obama.  You know what I mean.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 12:31PM | 0 recs
It's also about the local races

If he can have some positive coattails, even if he does not win the state, then it will help with local races.

by parahammer 2008-06-08 12:43PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

I don't think it's hubris to try to win states that the Democratic party has ignored for a long time now. I think it's just good sense.

Yes, lots of people will never vote for Obama. Lots of people will never vote for any Democrat. But even in red states, there are voters who are open to being convinced.

And it's not just about money. One of the points the article makes is that Obama already has an infrastructure of volunteers in most of the states we're talking about because of the primaries. It'd be stupid to just let that lie fallow. I'm glad he's going to be putting it to use instead.

by Angry White Democrat 2008-06-08 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

I'm all for using the local infrastructure in the red states to Obama's advantage.

But I'm not for using any money or real resources in these places.

I can't imagine Obama winning the deep South.  On the other hand, I can see how winning OH will get him over the top easily.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 12:58PM | 0 recs
MS's population is 36% African-American

Suppose that Obama wins them 95-5 and increases their turnout to 40% of the population, which seems reasonable.

Ignoring third-party votes, he only needs 20% of the white vote to win 50% (Kerry got ~14% or so)

If Barr wins 4% there, Obama only needs 17% of the white vote to reach a plurality at 48%

The latest Rasmussen poll has Obama only down 6 there. With some effort, winning MS could be very possible.

by MILiberal 2008-06-08 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: MS's population is 36% African-American

And getting that turnout is dependent upon the groundgame, which in turn is dependent upon investing some resources in those states.

by parahammer 2008-06-08 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: MS's population is 36% African-American

Certainly everything you've outlined is possible, but there are probabilities attached to every outcome, and one must deploy resources wisely to maximize your total chances of winning.

Spending money in MS could be a trap.  I'd rather have Obama blanket Ohio than spend any real resources in the deep South.

Winning Ohio = President Obama.  It's that simple.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: MS's population is 36% African-American

Kerry blanketed Ohio.

by parahammer 2008-06-08 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: MS's population is 36% African-American

Apparently not enough.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: MS's population is 36% African-American

There's only so many advertising dollars you can sink into a state before you reach the point of saturation. After that, more spending on ads doesn't do you much good. In fact, if you have too many ads on the air, people get sick of them and they can start to work against you.

by Angry White Democrat 2008-06-08 07:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Ohio is different this time

    Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, is the new Secretary of State in OH. There is no more Ken Blackwell to try to supress the vote and cause problems like trying to disqualify Voter Reg forms because the weight of the paper is wrong or provide fewer voting machines in Dem precincts compared to GOP areas. She is the Debra Bowen of OH. She will protect the right of people to vote and see that the votes are counted accurately and fairly. Big difference from 2004 in OH!

by Zack from the SFV 2008-06-08 02:44PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 01:11PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Read the article again.  It says:

"A Republican strategist said that, according to party monitoring services, Mr. Obama's campaign had inquired about advertising rates in 25 states, including traditionally Republican states like Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. That would constitute a very large purchase. President Bush, whose 2004 campaign had the most expensive advertising drive in presidential history, usually ran commercials in a maximum of 17 states."

The Obama campaign is thinking of WASTING money in the solid red states!  So it's more than the local infrastructure that they're thinking about.  It's real money that could be spent elsewhere.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 01:13PM | 0 recs
For Crying Out Loud

Let the man run his campaign. It has been great so far and we trust his judgment.

by parahammer 2008-06-08 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: For Crying Out Loud

Yeah, let them do what they want.

Why have little people talk about strategy.  Let's shut MyDD down!

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 01:20PM | 0 recs
One person's waste...

...is another person's wise move.  Just because a state has voted Republican in the past, doesn't mean that things don't change.  Demographics in North Carolina have changed dramatically and it's a pretty decent bundle of electoral votes.  Meanwhile, Florida may have moved in a direction where Obama has no chance.  Which one is the wise investment and which one is the waste of money?

by thurst 2008-06-09 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: GA, MS, and NC

All three states have important Senate races, too.  The Tarheel State also has a governor's race, too, and we're two years from redistricting.

So there is some value to campaigning in these places.  If Democrats can force the RNC to divert scarce resources to their Presidential/Congressional/Senatorial/Gu bernatorial races where they should be winning easily, that means less money for somewhere else.

by Brad G 2008-06-08 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

I don't think you understand.  He's doing this because he'll have so much damn money, he won't know what to do with it all.  Remember how Kerry actually ended his campaign in the black by 10 or 12 million?  Think what that 10 or 12 million could have done.  Obama is not going to make that same mistake.  He'll have tons more money than Kerry ever did.  Also, unlike Kerry, if he loses, he'll go down swinging

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2008-06-08 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

So you don't want Obama to compete in red leaning states?  I am just trying to make sure I understand your argument.  I haven't read anywhere that Obama is not going to compete insanely hard in the traditional swing states, but rather he is going to also compete in states that we normally ignore.  I personally am all for going full court press on the Republicans.

by Xris 2008-06-08 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

If there's unlimited resources, then this discussion becomes moot.

Of course I'd love for Obama to campaign in all 50 states.  But is there really such a thing as "unlimited resources"?

I would argue for strategic deployment of resources.  Sure, campaign in red-leaning states, but please, I hope they don't put serious money on states that haven't voted Democrat since, uhm, reconstruction.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

I get what you are saying, but I still haven't seen any indication that they are going to camp out in a state like Alabama for 2 months.  It seems to me he is playing mind games with McCain while also rewarding those volunteer groups that delivered for him in the primaries.  McCain will have to decide how solid his southern support is.  If he panics and starts spending money and time in the south, then Obama has succeeded.  Now if McCain calls his bluff and just camps in states like Ohio, then we should probably be looking at things from your point of view.

by Xris 2008-06-08 12:53PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

I think the South is as solidly Republican as the Northeast and the West are.

Obama winning most of the South is akin to McCain winning most of the Northeast.  McCain won't win New York, just as Obama won't win Alabama.

It's just nearly impossible in the universe of hypercalibrated electorates.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 01:01PM | 0 recs
Interesting point

The Northeast and the West both used to be very Republican. Look how that's changed now

by MILiberal 2008-06-08 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Obama is not blanketing the south.  He's picking and choosing the states in the South & Mountain West.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2008-06-08 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

"Sure, campaign in red-leaning states, but please, I hope they don't put serious money on states that haven't voted Democrat since, uhm, reconstruction."

Like Deep South states?

Hint - since Reconstruction, Deep South states have mostly voted Democratic.  It's only the last few decades that Republicans have been able to win in the South.  And even since then, Carter swept the Deep South in 1976 and Clinton managed to pick off Georgia.

So by all means, argue your point.  But do it without such false claims.  Not only are they false, but claims that the Democrats couldn't win in the Deep South post-Reconstruction suggests a glaring cluelessness about the politics of the Deep South following Reconstruction, when the area was effectively a one-party state.

by Collideascope 2008-06-08 01:52PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Can you explain the "hubris attached to the rise of Obama" to me?  I don't get it.

Also, while I imagine there is some minority that won't vote for Barack "under any circumstance... you  know what I mean", you must realize that this is a minority.  We will never be able to turn republicans into independents, and independents into democrats if we ignore typically red states.  We can turn these people but first we have to respect them enough to not call them racists.

by CAchemist 2008-06-08 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Oh cmon, if this is how the Obama campaign is to be run, then I'm not too optimistic about our chances of winning the White House.

I'm hoping that this 50-state strategy is more talk than action ... McCain would love, love, love for Obama to spend time in the depths of the South, while he tours retirement homes in Florida and churches in Ohio.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 12:53PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

I trust Obama to make the right choices and fully support the 50 state strategy. Competing in every state sure helped him in the primaries.

by parahammer 2008-06-08 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Primaries are different from the generals, but you know that already.

I don't support a full-gear 50-state strategy for the reasons that I have outlined.  Obama could deploy his infrastructure, of course, to gain a few more percentage points in the deep South, but shouldn't spend more time or resources there.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not like he's going to Texas

I agree that the 50-state strategy has limitations.  In 2000, George W. Bush spent $13 million in CA, and ended up losing the state by double digits.  He also spent a significant amount of time in WA.  Because of this, Bush spent less time in FL, and needed the Supreme Court to get him over the top.

But that just means you don't spend time and money on hopeless places.  TX obviously costs a Democrat too much time and money to win, so Obama obviously won't campaign much there.  It takes too much time to fly to AK (which has an important Senate race as well) and back.

At the same time, many of these places where Obama is campaigning have other important downticket races.  ME, MN, OR, VA, NC, CO, NM, AK, and MS all have important Senate races.  WA, NC, and MO have important governorship races, and redistricting is coming in two years.  Even in WA, Darcy Burner would have a much easier time unseating Dave Reichert if Barack Obama won 55-60% of the district.  We need these seats if we are going to pass health care reform, and get liberals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

by Brad G 2008-06-08 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Kerry failed because he spent money on 32 states while the Republicans targetted like 13-18 states. And that's why Kerry has a personally bias against the Clintons as the Clintons told him that that would fail and it's a waste of resources. Not to say kerry has like tens of millions by the time he lost. That's tens of millions not spent.

We have a financial advantage this year over the Republicans and this is why we should implement the 50 state strategy. The purpose is to drain the republicans off their finances. Even if we fail, at least we make our presence felt in those states and might make those states turn purple in time for the next election.

by stevent 2008-06-08 12:53PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

If Obama, say, spends $50 million in AL, GA, and MS,  and McCain spends nothing ... who do you think will win AL, GA, and MS?

Seriously.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 12:55PM | 0 recs
Don't Panic

numbers are not being floated. The key is not to concede these states. He can spend some big bucks in NC and VA, states that other dem camdiates would have written off.

by parahammer 2008-06-08 12:56PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

More important than money is the time he personally spends campaigning there.

by Carnacki 2008-06-08 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

I actually think Obama has a chance in Georgia.  If Barr picks off 5-6% of McCain support from his home state, then Obama has a real shot.

by CAchemist 2008-06-08 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

If Obama has a real chance in Georgia, then we're all set to win the White House in a landslide.

I'm hoping for this too, but my rational mind can't grasp this possibility yet.  It may be the Democrat's year, but the Republicans are still entrenched in many communities.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 01:07PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

I agree with you.

by anasky123 2008-06-26 01:43AM | 0 recs
Campaigning can have a huge effect

We saw that in states like CA, SC, and SD this primary season

by MILiberal 2008-06-08 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Why are you discussing AL? It wasn't mentioned in the article, so why bring it up? It's like you are purposefully constructing an easier argument to debunk than what is actually proposed. GA was mentioned, and I think there is some merit to it. I live in GA. He has a chance here. Same goes I think for North Carolina and Missouri. Mississippi won't turn blue, but that's fine too. The idea isn't to win ALL of those states, that wouldn't be realistic. The idea is to press Obama's money and organizational advantage over McCain so that he has less resources to battle Obama with in the battle ground states. Your strategy of conservation only makes sense if Obama had less or about the same in terms of resources. Clearly that is not the case this year. Also clearly demonstrated by the primaries is that there is a law of diminishing returns that kicks in after a certain point. Outspending McCain 10 to 1 in a primary isn't twice as advantageous as 5 to 1. I'd bet that voters who haven't flipped by a 5 to 1 ad-buy ratio aren't going to be any more likely to change their position due to an increase in spending; you've already flooded the airwaves enough. You are better off to spend that money elsewhere so that the opponent's campaign must marshal resources and brain power elsewhere so that their resistance isn't as strong nor as focused.

by tessellated 2008-06-08 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Given how cheap the media markets are down there(except for Atlanta), he'd win if he spent $50 million down there.  But seriously, he's choosing states that he his already close in the polls.  That money won't just be spent for advertising.  It will be spent helping get out the vote and all the rest.  Underestimate Obama at your own peril.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2008-06-08 01:59PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Actually, Kerry didn't contest very many states at all. Certainly not 32.

http://img152.imageshack.us/my.php?image =800px2004campaignattentnf1.png

The hands represent candidate visits, and the dollar signs represent advertising money. It's easy to see where the overwhelming focus went.

by Angry White Democrat 2008-06-08 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Very interesting chart.  Thanks.

by prodigal 2008-06-08 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

Right. And Mississippi will never put another Democrat in Congress again, ever.  Not in the white-majority districts, anyhow.
by admiralnaismith 2008-06-08 12:59PM | 0 recs
Yep

We can thank Howard Dean for that one. Whouda thunk that putting a couple of staffers on the ground in red states could yield these results.

by parahammer 2008-06-08 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Yep

And that's just from wandering around Mississippi picking their noses!  (according to one DLC pundit that is)

If the staffers actually did any work, I'll bet we'd rule the planet by now!

by admiralnaismith 2008-06-08 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

I assume you aren't talking about those traditional "red" states that happen to have the largest black populations in the country? It would take an amazingly small percentage of the white vote to win those Southern states with substantial African American turnout. And keep in mind these are the same white voters most wary of voting for the godless heathen and closet liberal, John McCain.

by LandStander 2008-06-08 06:00PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not a bluff

It failed because its a terrible strategy.  It failed with Gore too.  Had he took the fight to a few more states he would have won.

by yitbos96bb 2008-06-08 06:03PM | 0 recs
I hoestly believe that if McCain ignores Obama's

I Really do believe that if McCain ignores Obama's REAL red state threat, Obama will win a few.

by beholderseye 2008-06-08 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: I hoestly believe that if McCain ignores Obama

Not everyone in these red states are as enlightened as we are.

There is a significant segment of their population that won't ever, ever vote for Obama.  This is reality.  I certainly don't want to waste my time in Alabama when there are counties in Ohio that need more campaign resources.

by Sieglinde 2008-06-08 12:46PM | 0 recs
Re: I hoestly believe that if McCain ignores Obama

you don't have to go to AL, there are volunteers there that will not consider it a waste of time.

by parahammer 2008-06-08 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: I hoestly believe that if McCain ignores Obama

You forget the OTHER reason this is important... to help down ticket races.

by yitbos96bb 2008-06-08 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: I hoestly believe that if McCain ignores Obama

Contrariwise, if McAncient DOES find that those states are close, and goes in, race-baiting, to win them--he'll win them, just like the infamous Helms v. Gantt (NC) and Ford v. Corker (TN). But he will also disgust large numbers of voters outside the Confederate states, which will cause him to lose, eg, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada.  Those racist Senators could afford to care only about what people in their own states thought. That doesn't apply nationally.
by admiralnaismith 2008-06-08 01:02PM | 0 recs
Re: I hoestly believe that if McCain ignores Obama

It may well be that race-baiting will no longer automatically win southern states.

by Freespeechzone 2008-06-08 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's swing state strategy

The point is that by forcing an underfunded McCain to defend his states, it decreases his ability to go on offense in states that are up for grabs.  Surely you can understand that strategy.

by rfahey22 2008-06-08 01:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's 50-State Campaign

I don't think it's hubris to try to win states that the Democratic party has ignored for a long time now. I think it's just good sense.

Yes, lots of people will never vote for Obama. Lots of people will never vote for any Democrat. But even in red states, there are voters who are open to being convinced.

And it's not just about money. One of the points the article makes is that Obama already has an infrastructure of volunteers in most of the states we're talking about because of the primaries. It'd be stupid to just let that lie fallow. I'm glad he's going to be putting it to use instead.

by Angry White Democrat 2008-06-08 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's 50-State Campaign
It's also about not conceding these states 5 months before the election.  I was floored when Clinton said that McCain would win NC a couple of months ago.
At least fight for the states, make McCain expend his resources and help downticket races.
by parahammer 2008-06-08 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's 50-State Campaign

This was one of the best selling points for Obama as far as I was concerned and I am glad he is following through on this.

I am particularly keen on seeing what he can accomplish in Florida. I think his numbers are artificially low there for reasons we all are familiar with.

by Benjaminomeara 2008-06-08 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's 50-State Campaign

he's not that far back considering how much negative press he has gotten there.  My feeling on florida is that if McCain loses it, he is done.

by Xris 2008-06-08 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's 50-State Campaign
Yeah. I dont quite understand why everyone seem to take the current polls - which are not that bad anyway - at face value and write FL off for him.
I am looking forward to his numbers after he does a few events and campaigning there. I think FL is the sleeper surprise of the election. We shall see.
by Benjaminomeara 2008-06-08 12:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's 50-State Campaign

It's hard for some to break free from the primary campaign mindset and realize that Hillary's propaganda was self serving rather than truthful.

by Freespeechzone 2008-06-08 01:19PM | 0 recs
RIP

The "Lose 36" strategy should have put out to pasture long ago.

Being smart enough to embrace and build upon Howard Dean's successes is one of Obama's best attributes.

by Freespeechzone 2008-06-08 01:15PM | 0 recs
26 states? 35?


If I were in Obama's shoes, I would campaign as though 26 states were MUST-WINs, and go to the mat, doing whatever it takes to take them.  Those are the 19 states Kerry won, plus NM, IA, MO, OH, VA, CO and NV.  (I think it's odd that MO is mentioned as an example of Obama's boldness--he won the primary, is polling ahead right now, and MO is a bellweather that has gone for the declared winner in every election I can remember. It's winnable by either party, and ANY national candidate who ignores it is a fool. Not the same category as the deep south or Big Sky regions at all).

He doesn't need all of those 26 to win (they add up to 322 EVs), but he should campaign as though he does.

Note that that doesn't mean he has to spend a lot in all of them--the deep blue states are gimmes. But he should give the most attention to those on that list that Kerry or Gore did not win.

THEN he should compete in Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana, as a play to take McCain states away. If by September, he is not yet competitive, he can drop attention from those states, but he must not give McCain byes there.

I want to add Texas to that list, simply because it's too big to ignore. It would be tough, but would it be worthwhile? Some are saying McCain should try for California, which seems to me the same thing. What do you think?

That makes 30 states.  NOW, it seems to me that, with the rest, Obama would be wisest to commit, really COMMIT to one or two of the following four regions:

Deep South: SC, GA, AL, MS, LA

Farm/prairie: ND, SD, NE, KS, OK

Appalachia/border south (his weakest region in the primaries): WV, KY, TN, AR

Libertarian West: MT, WY, ID, AK, AZ, UT

...with maybe a minor GOTV field operation in the regions he does not choose, but not much more than that.  Seems to me, if he tries hard in ALL of those regions, he will lose all four. If he goes for broke in one or two, he has a decent chance.  

Treating those clusters of states as regions makes it more justifiable to allocate resources. The herculean effort required to get North Dakota's 3 meager EVs is hard to justify, and a good part of the reason Democrats haven't bothered there in years. However, a comprehensive "farm belt" strategy, geared toward not only the four prairie states, but toward sealing down the entire midwest as a long term Democratic stronghold, might be very good strategy indeed.

Which of the four regions? That depends on what issues the Obama campaign wants most to emphasize.  A campaign about "getting the government off our backs" would resonate better in the West; economic populism, more in the South; cooperation and character, in the midwest.

Think it over. I like the idea of competing everywhere. I also like the idea of measured, focused competition in key areas, not just swing states but taking the battle to key red states with a clear battle plan in mind.

by admiralnaismith 2008-06-08 01:23PM | 0 recs
You Should Diary This

Its a keeper.

by parahammer 2008-06-08 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: You Should Diary This


Thanks. I put it up on Kos, and it seems to have generated a lot of discussion.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/8/2 13528/2459/445/532481

by admiralnaismith 2008-06-09 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: 26 states? 35?

And Obama will have the money to compete everywhere .. and he won't sit on money .. like Kerry did .. if people are going to donate money .. well .. use it!!

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2008-06-08 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: TX?

I think TX is too expensive and requires too much time to win.  Just think Bush and CA in 2000, and what it cost Bush to compete there.  Yes, there is a Senate race in TX, but there are Senate races in other places.

I think Obama could get much more bang for his time and money in MO, NC, VA, MS, and even IN.  Those places are much cheaper to campaign in, require much less time, and have Senate and/or governorship races this year.

Many small, solid-Republican states also would require too much time to win (AK, ID, MT, UT, OK, KS, NE, ND, SD, AL), and time would be better spent in other places like the ones I've mentioned above.  Other than AK, none of those places have easy Senate or gubernatorial races to win.  You're simply not getting enough bang for the buck in some of those places.

by Brad G 2008-06-08 02:04PM | 0 recs
Mt is doable
You have a Dem Governor and two Senators. There has been talk of Gov. Schweitzer for VP.
by parahammer 2008-06-08 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: It's doable.

But it's only three Electoral College votes, and it takes too much time to access by plane.  MT doesn't border any other competitive state, so it's just visiting there is too much lost time.  Visiting CO, VA, NC, or MO (even GA and MS) gives a much greater bang for the buck.  Plus, in those three states, there is a vulnerable Republican Senate seat at stake, and MO and NC have a gubernatorial races.

by Brad G 2008-06-08 02:43PM | 0 recs
Regions


That's why I talked in terms of REGIONS. It's not just 3 EVs--it's potentially several from many clusters of states that could be hit, the same as if they were one big one.

And even individually, there are exceptional circumstances...MT, for example, because of the late primary, has a ground game already in place to get turnout from the miners, the Missoulans, the reservations, plus two very popular Democrats sharing the statewide ticket, so that's in play.

Alaska is facing a New Hampshire 2006-style GOP meltdown due to Republican scandals from the state legislature to two statewide Congressional incumbents, AND the libertarian candidate will bleed off GOP votes for President. Could be worth at least a visit during the slow season and a TV campaign in the Anchorage market.  

Maybe just the novelty of having a Democrat, you know, actually show up and ask the people for their vote will have an effect.

by admiralnaismith 2008-06-08 05:34PM | 0 recs
Re: It's doable.

I think you are missing the 50 state part of the 50 state strategy.

by yitbos96bb 2008-06-08 06:00PM | 0 recs
Re: TX?

Bush took public financing though... Obama won't have that limitation.

by yitbos96bb 2008-06-08 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: TX?

I agree that Texas is a hard call, at best. But those other states you mention (AK, ID, MT, UT, OK, KS, NE, ND, SD, but not Alabama) all have two things in common...

  1. Small populations. This increases the impact of a small but dedicated volunteer corps.
  2. Cheap media markets. Obama can parlay his massive money advantage into a cheap media saturation in those states that McCain will be hard-pressed to match.

Perhaps a third is that two campaign stops in most of those states could reach a majority of the state's population - not true in larger states that have up to a dozen or more population centers.

I see no reason why he shouldn't go for all of those states - as well as those Southern states with the largest AA populations. I would imagine the Appalachian states are the ones farthest from his reach, and hence the ones he should skip. And also, as you say, Texas.

by LandStander 2008-06-08 06:11PM | 0 recs
Re: 26 states? 35?

Hmm great points... As for the regions, my order would be...

1) Libertarian West - His best chance to gain - Camp future Cabinet member Richardson here.

  1. Deep South... I don't think he will win, but there are MORE EVs here than the the Farm and Prairie states and if he can get the numbers CLOSE (within 10%) he forces McCain to commit resources or risk losing some - Camp Attorney General Edwards here and fight.
  2. Farm - Same as 2, but less EVs.  
  3. Appalachia - His problem area, but I would LOVE to camp Hillary in these states and let her campaign maybe with Bill.  

by yitbos96bb 2008-06-08 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: 26 states? 35?

That's a great point about Edwards! He really shouldn't cross the Mason Dixon from now until November. He is a particularly good Southern emissary for the Obama campaign.

by LandStander 2008-06-08 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Sunshine State and its 27 EL Votes

Benjaminomeara I so agree with you on the Florida thing.  I would love for us to turn Florida blue once again.  It would be the 1st time since 96 that the state went blue.(though we know what happened in 2000 :( The key in Fl is tapping in to the Cuban vote and Pilling up a huge vote tally in the I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa.  Putting HRC on the ticket would give us a shot at reclaiming Fl.

by nzubechukwu 2008-06-08 01:32PM | 0 recs

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