by Jonathan Singer, Thu Jul 10, 2008 at 03:37:18 AM EDT
Missouri is one of those states -- kind of like Florida -- I have generally tried not to get my hopes up about to too great a degree. Missouri seems to be the type of state that would provide electoral votes 300 through 311 for Barack Obama if he carried it rather than 259 to 270 (i.e. it would be gravy to carry rather than the one to put him over the top). But inasmuch as this election is not just about putting together the states to get to 270 but also a broader chess game to force the opposing candidate to go on defense in states he should be able to feel safe in, thus decreasing the opponent's ability to reach 270, Missouri is an important state for the Obama campaign. You can see as much in the latest polling from the state. Here's Rasmussen Reports:
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in Missouri shows John McCain attracting 47% of the vote while Barack Obama earns 42%. A month ago, the candidates were essentially even. That survey was conducted the night that Obama clinched the Democratic Presidential nomination. McCain had the advantage in earlier surveys.
When leaners are included in the current survey, McCain leads Obama 50% to 45%. Leaners are survey participants who initially indicate no preference for either major candidate but indicate that they are leaning towards either McCain or Obama.
And here's Public Policy Polling:
John McCain 47
Barack Obama 44
Both surveys show John McCain holding his party base better than Obama -- though that's largely a function of the fact that disgruntled Republicans have left the party to become independents, making those still self-identifying with the party a more loyal bunch by comparison.
But the more exciting development out of the state, which now only leans about 2 points towards McCain according to the Pollster.com trend estimate, is this: Obama may have 10 times more organizers on the ground in the state than McCain, according to The Kansas City Star.
The Democrat's campaign said Tuesday it is tripling its paid staff -- to an unprecedented 150 workers, who will fan out from 30 field offices across the state, from West Plains to Maryville.
"It's unheard of," veteran Democratic worker Woody Overton of Kansas City said of the effort and expenditure.
"Desperate" is the adjective John McCain's camp uses.
"When you feel like you have to put that many people in the state to cover it, means you think you're in trouble and you have to have a surge," said Jack Jackson, McCain's Missouri co-chairman.
Recent polls indicate the race in Missouri is close.
McCain's operation expects to have 12 to 14 full-time workers and 10 offices. The Arizona Republican now has four people on the ground.
You have got to respect the chutzpah of the McCain campaign in trying to spin away their remarkable organizing disadvantage as a sign of strength by saying that the Obama campaign is only putting staff in Missouri because they think their candidate is weak there. I guess that means that McCain trailing in the polls nationally must be a good thing for his campaign, too...
Regardless of the McCain spin, this is a really exciting development. Do I think that Missouri will necessarily be in the Obama column come November 4? No. But that's not what's truly important. With a field organization like this, on top of polling showing this to be about a 2-point race, there's a strong likelihood that Obama won't be pulling up the stakes in Missouri in September -- a move that has occurred in the past, allowing the Republicans to divert money they would spend to defend the state to other states. And in the three-dimensional chess game that is the race to the White House, keeping one's opponent on his heels is a definite key to victory.