How He’ll Do It

Jerome Armstrong of MYDD asks a simple and fair question; what’s Obama’s strategy on winning a General Election?  Hillary’s already got a plan, supposedly, holding Kerry’s states, and adding Nevada, New Mexico, Florida, and Arizona (right).  How will Obama beat John McCain?

He’s going to take them all.

Okay, not really, but bear with me a second.  First off, one of the major themes that has clarified in this campaign is that Obama is doing particularly well in the red states and engineering commanding turnouts in typically Republican strongholds in the south and midwest.  Now, only a fool would believe that he’s going to win all of these states, but that doesn’t mean his ability to play significantly here won’t have an impact on a general election.

Let’s remember first that Obama is going to go into the General Election with significantly more funding than John McCain could ever hope to have and it’s reasonable to assume that the impressive organizations that he has built in the red states isn’t going away any time soon.  Now, let’s apply a heavy blitz in those states with a well funded series of ad buys.  In states like Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Kansas, he’s going to put some serious strain on McCain to hold these deep red states.

I’m not saying he’s going to win those states, but especially given McCain’s weak footing with the conservative base, he’s going to make bury resources in what is often seen as safe Republican territory.  McCain’s going to have to burn cash in the Gulf States and along the South Eastern seaboard just to stay afloat in those states, and that alone is going to significantly hamper McCain’s ability to challenge Obama in the swing states.

Also, I think it’s foolish to think that Obama is going to up and lose any of the states that Kerry won, nor is he likely to get a significantly lesser chunk of at least the woman vote going into the General Election compared to Hillary.  If we accept this, and then take a look at the electoral map from 2004, we see that Obama only has to make up 18 electoral votes.  I can name that tune in two moves.

Move one: Virginia.  Bush eventually won Virginia by ten points in the 2004 election, but since then Virginia has been trending significantly blue.  We’ve seen the second Democrat in a row elected as Governor, Tim Kaine, who has also been part of the Obama campaign almost from the very start.  Kaine’s still a pretty popular figure around these parts, and he’ll most definitely push the envelope in getting Obama elected.  But on top of Kaine, you’ll also have Jim Webb who is serving his first term in the Senate, and Mark Warner who is running and favored by a ridiculous margin to win John Warner’s seat.  These three figures alone result in a significant amount of clout with both Kaine and Webb having Obama to thank for campaigning on their behalf.

Can Hillary turn Virginia blue?  Possibly, but thanks primarily to Tim Kaine, Obama has a more significant shot.  Ring up 13 electoral votes.

Move two: Iowa or New Mexico.  Both states went to Bush by a one point margin, leaving them to be decided by independent voters, and it is here where Hillary Clinton’s weakness is most apparent.  Hillary simply does not have the crossover appeal that Obama does, and she’s not proving that she’s at least improving on this demographic.  Conversely, Obama’s ability to turn out the young vote like no one else as well as appeal to moderate Republicans and independent voters is going to put McCain in a tough position in either of these states.  Again, McCain’s going to suffer from a minimilized base, and he’s going to have to fight in his strong area, swing voters, with someone who is just as strong if not stronger.

Thus, it is reasonable to project that those states that are red by a one point margin should turn pretty easily blue for Obama.  Iowa-6 electoral votes, New Mexico 5, bringing our additional electoral votes up to 18 or 19 respectively, or 24 if he wins both.  We now have President Elect Barack Obama.

Two states flipped, and it’s game over.

But that’s not the big deal.  The big deal is that Obama’s going to run a fifty state campaign.  At least he will if his primary campaigning has been any indicator.  He’ll have the resources to do so, and he’ll be largely successful, and as I point out above, running a fifty state campaign is going to keep McCain strategically on his heels.  We may also see some shockers come out as well, for instance, Kansas under Kathleen Sebelius’ stewardship may play Obama as Kansas’ favorite son, and give him the 6 electoral votes there.  Or Alaska for I’ve heard that they are really not amped on McCain.

But as I’ve said, I think Obama’s shown every indication that he’s going to run a fifty state campaign just by his performance in this primary.

Let’s compare the two.

With the exception of Super Tuesday, Obama has played in every state going with the exception of Michigan and Florida where he honored in full his pledge not to campaign there (a pledge Hillary seemed not so prone to honor herself).  By contrast, Hillary had established a pattern of abandoning states Obama was likely to win as early as South Carolina where she didn’t even bother to campaign in until the last second.  She has since not bothered to campaign in the smaller states to the same extent as Obama ostensibly so that when Obama came away with the win, she could play the game of lower expectations by saying she didn’t really try.

Indeed, we’re about to see it again.  It’s been made clear by most of the political intelligencia that Hillary’s big firewalls are Ohio and Texas on March 4thSo instead of actually trying to make a contest of Wisconsin and Hawaii, she’s moving straight on to Texas, ignoring Wisconsin until Saturday.  Conversely, Obama’s heading out to Wisconsin tomorrow.

The point is, Hillary is all too ready to cede ground, and I understand the conventional wisdom.  You cut your losses in impossible states and you focus on the states you can win.  Unfortunately, conventional wisdom has earned us scarce few victories in presidential politics over the past few decades, and with a Republican like John McCain, there’s no time to change course like the present.

A fifty state strategy would obliterate a McCain candidacy for two simple reasons.  Conservatives hate him.  He’s coming out the gate at a disadvantage simply because his own base has a hard time energizing for him.  Yes, party stalwarts will eventually get over themselves and support him, but one thing Huckabee has taught us this election cycle is that the foot soldiers don’t always follow their leaders.

Hannity, Limbaugh, and even She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named will eventually come around and sing McCain’s praises, but that doesn’t mean that all the dittoheads will as well.

The second reason is resources.  As I’ve outlined above, because of McCain’s weakness with his own base, he’s going to have to spend money just to protect his own.  Obama, on the other hand, has proven to be a juggernaut when it comes to fund raising.  Now, both Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have proven that a lot of money isn’t going to necessarily win you anything, but Obama will have the resources to keep McCain playing defense in the Red States, and barely able to compete in swing states.  Forget McCain even making a go of encroaching on blue territory.

With a well funded fifty state strategy lead by Obama, you not only put the narrow states in the blue column, and have the potential for shocker upsets, but I think with McCain you put every state within a five to ten point deficit in significant play.  That means; NV, CO, MO, AR, FL, NC (tentatively), and OH.

All of these states would be difficult for McCain to hold on to, and add up to 93 electoral votes.  Add that to the 24 mentioned above, and we’re looking at the potential to pick up as many as 117 electoral votes on top of the 252 we had in 2004.

That, boys and girls, is what is called a landslide.

One Response to “How He’ll Do It”

  1. xranger says:

    Much too early to predict the national election – Hillary’s still in it.

    When the summer roles around, look for these questions to arise:

    Can McCain win over the south, which has rejected him thus far?

    Is Obama mainly winning the states that would vote Republican anyway?

    Since Mccain is running as a conservative only with regards to a strng military, will this attract independants?

    The big question: will whites vote for Obama, or will they go to McCain?

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