GE Strategy: Location of "Vote for Change" Ralleys
by such sweet thunder, Sun May 25, 2008 at 03:41:11 AM EDT
Few of us are privy to the Obama campaign's overarching strategy. (At least few of us who are willing to share.) So, I have spent some time reading the Obama Campaign's tea leaves.
As most of you know, on May 10, Obama launched "Vote for Change," a national voter registration drive with 101 events nationwide on the launch date. While each state had at least one meeting site, many had more. In this blog, I'll run a quick analysis of what we can learn from the locations of the rallies, looking for clues, albeit imperfect ones, about the likely Republican and Democratic veep selections, what is the expected impact of the third party candidates, and ultimately, what states are actually in play.
To begin with a disclaimer: the number of events likely reflect a number of factors, not just campaign strategy. I.e. favors to Superdelegates, amount of registration work that has already been completed, down ticket priorities, etc. The events, however, do provide a very rough, but fun, estimate of where the campaign is directing its attack.
Who will be the Democratic VP?:
Al Gore is the front runner for veep, judging by the location of the voter registration events. There were four separate registration drives in Tennessee (Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, & Knoxville), an unprecedented number for a state that is likely out of play without Gore as veep.
Any other possibilities?
Obama appears to be aiming for Kansas, which leads me to believe that Kathleen Sibelius may be an option. Obama held three registration events in the red state. Of course, he could just be rewarding the popular Governor, or some of the other state politicians, for their work on his campaign. I wouldn't be surprised if Sibelius is an option in the contingency that Clinton takes the nomination battle to the convention and a woman veep is the strongest way to unite the party.
Who won't be the Democratic VP?
Tim Kaine, Jim Webb, and Mark Warner look like they have slim chances. Obama only held one event in Virginia on May 10, in what would be a crucial state if one of the the trio were selected as running mate.
Any other surprises?
There were only two events held in Ohio, Cincinnati and Columbus. This figure is not particularly telling because much of the registration ground work was completed in the long primary ramp up. To put this in context, there was only one event held in Pennsylvania. But I am a little surprised by the locations of events. I would have expected an event in Akron (Oh-13), Sherrod Brown's old congressional district, if he was going to be the selection.
Others who may be disappointed?
Obama only held two events in Texas. This doesn't bode well for a Bill Richardson selection. Texas is probably not in play no matter who is the veep, given the strong Republican machine in the state. But one of the attractive points about a Richardson selection would be the fact that McCain would have to spend in the seven media markets there to retain the state. If Obama was leaning Richardson, he probably would have given more attention to the state.
How about the bell-weather?
My notes on Missouri aren't good, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like Obama only held one rally there: in St. Louis. Again, this could be traced to the fact that Obama spent heavily in Missiouri before Super Tuesday. Still, it's a little surprising given that the state is in play and that Clair McCaskil is judged by many to be a legitimate veep possibility.
Who will likely be the Republican Veep?
The number of events ostensibly point towards Tim Pawlenty, the Republican Governor of Minnesota. Obama held three separate events on May 10 in the great state from up North, Deluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis. The fact that the twin cities held two is especially interesting. Obama also held three events in Wisconsin. Pawlenty is a strong choice given the electoral map.
It seems to me that Obama will probably win Kerry's states, with the exception of New Hampshire. I am also ready to give Obama Colorado (3 events), Iowa(1 event) and New Mexico(1 event) -- since the demos favor him, he is polling well, and all three have Democratic Governors. That means that Obama only has to win one of the following states: NH(1 event), OH(2 events) , NV(2 events) , VA(1 event), AK(1 event) , or GA(3 events). Basically, the electoral math looks bleak for McCain unless he can reclaim some of Kerry's states. Pawlenty is the only Republican governor from a Kerry state.
What about Bob Barr?
Obama held three registration events in Georgia. This was striking to me, until I read that Rasmussen polled Barr at 8% of the vote in his home state last week. (I've already written two diaries about this, so I'll try to not to harp, but the minute Bob Barr wins the Libertarian Party nomination, we should all donate to his campaign. Nothing will put Georgia and Alaska in play except a semi-viable -- read: not completely nuts -- third party candidate.)
Is Obama going after Nebraska Electoral Votes?
As many of you know, Nebraska splits its electoral votes along Congressional district lines. Obama could be shooting for the First and Second Districts. Obama held events in Lincoln(NE-2) and Omaha (NE-1).
How did Obama entice the Cardoza 40 California Supers to switch?
Various outlets have reported that a group of 40 Superdelegates, lead by US Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-California), will be switching from Clinton to Obama so that the Democrats can successfully seat all of the Michigan and Florida delegates. Obama held literally twenty Vote for Change events in California. Their may be a correlation between the emphasis on California and the shift in delegates -- perhaps it was a sweetener? Another explanations for the huge California number is that Obama may use the events to encourage donations. I'm sure a large portion of his donors are based in California.
One final outside possibility -- which is slightly scary -- is that the huge Obama registration effort may be to directly battle the GOP. As I mentioned above, despite any popular vote trends, the electoral map looks bleak for McCain. In all likelihood, he is going to have to pull at least two of Kerry's states to win. McCain may believe that Ohio is out of reach, considering the huge voter mobilization during the long primary season, a strong Governor in Ted Strickland, and a potential veep selection in Brown. If he reaches that conclusion the best hail-mary option may be going after California. There is a strong Republican Governor to help turn out the vote, and if McCain selected Dumcan Hunter he could put a local on the ticket. The gay marriage constitutional issue will also probably provide some drag on Obama in Novermber. California could be a battleground.
(Cross-posted at the Giant Orange Monster.)