Wherein I Get So Dizzy I Change My Mind

I’m sorry, I know, this was all expected and I should just be taking everything with a grain of salt, but at the same time my anti-inanity detection and deterrent system refuses to let me pass this up.

My Republican stepdad called me this morning and we did what we always do; talked politics. We managed to cover a pretty broad range of topics, but the one thing that struck me was that he said he had gained a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton in this election cycle.

I was pretty well shocked, but he did point out something very valid; Clinton really is a helluva fighter. As much as my CDS makes me loath to admit it, this is true, and you have to hand it to Mrs. Clinton; she’s shown a great amount of heart and temerity.

Even if the fight in her may have been sometimes clumsy and misdirected.

Which is about where I am in regards to the Clinton campaign. As I’ve said in the past, I’m past judging them or hating them, and looking at this whole incident through the rearview mirror, I can respect what she has accomplished, and I can be grateful for how she has toughened up my candidate.

But there are still instances that really kind of take me aback, such as this memo released by the Clinton campaign:

To: Interested Parties
From: Clinton Campaign
Date: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Re: Why West Virginia Matters

With a record turnout expected in today’s primary, West Virginia Democrats will make clear who they believe is the strongest candidate to take on Sen. McCain in the Fall.

The Mountain State is used to picking winners. Every nominee has carried the state’s primary since 1976, and no Democrat has won the White House without winning West Virginia since 1916.

Democrats carried West Virginia in 1992 and 1996, but lost the state-and the White House–in 2000 and 2004. Hillary has predicted victory against Sen. McCain in West Virginia based on the strength of her economic message.
Given the attempts by our opponent and some in the media to declare this race over, any significant increase in voter turnout, coupled with a decisive Clinton victory, would send a strong message that Democrats remain excited and energized by Hillary’s candidacy.

In the face of grim poll numbers, the Obama campaign has attempted to dismiss today’s outcome despite the fact that Sen. Obama has outspent us on advertising, has more staff in the state, and more than double the number of offices.

He has also benefited from the support of the most high-profile endorsers in West Virginia-Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Congressman Nick Rahall. By every measure, the Obama campaign has waged an aggressive campaign in the Mountain State.

Despite being the so-called “presumptive nominee” and benefiting from these advantages, Sen. Obama has been unable to close a significant gap in the polls.

Sen. Clinton has already won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan. With a win in West Virginia, Sen. Clinton will have once again proven her greater ability to win in the key swing states.

Dear Lord, I never thought about it that way. Obama can’t win West Virginia, thus we have been backing the wrong horse the entire time! That’s it, I’m changing my allegiance to Hillary Clinton because only she can deliver West Virginia in the fall, and all FIVE of its electoral votes.

*sigh*

Interestingly, the case, I believe, for Senator Obama remains in the very act of Clinton’s attempt to make it appear that he played for West Virginia, despite the very minimal appearance that he made in the state (to the best of my knowledge he’s held exactly one campaign event there recently).

Why, might you ask, do I think it is important that Obama have a bigger operation in a state he is doomed to lose? Because it points yet again to a fifty state strategy which is what I believe will be the right strategy to use in the fall, especially against McCain.

Let’s remember, McCain has a high potential for crossover and independent support, or at least, that’s what the punditry says, which means that you can’t afford to carve up the electoral map and pray. You’ve got to play for every state and make McCain work to keep his own states in his column and weaken his ability to play in swing states. That’s what a fifty state strategy does for you.

Think about it this way. How easy would it have been for Clinton to pile up a major victory in West Virginia if Obama had no organization on the ground there? Probably a lot easier, right? As it stands, in order for Clinton to get what she gets in West Virginia, it will largely be a function of how much time and effort she has put in the state. By putting an organization on the ground in West Virginia, Obama is forcing Clinton to campaign there when she could have given a cursory nod to West Virginia and moved on to Oregon to try and cut into Obama’s lead there.

We’re talking about this all in the hypothetical, of course, but it is what it is. Just because you compete in a state doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing if you lose in a state, not if you are picking up ground elsewhere to compensate. That he’s willing to put down a significant organization in a state that he will lose now means that he will do the exact same thing come the fall where laying down organizations in red states will force McCain to waste resources in those states and draw his attention away from purple states that Obama would be well positioned to win.

I’m not condemning Team Clinton for this; she’s decided to stick it out, and good for her. But this is strategy now, and it’s time to talk about how to beat McCain, and there are a lot of people that are going to call West Virginia a problem for Obama, but I see things a little differently.

Obama won’t win West Virginia in the general election, and those five electoral votes will be missed. But I guarantee you this much, he’s going to have a campaign presence there, and if McCain really wants the state, he’s going to have to at least put some effort into it, even if only a little. It doesn’t matter, one day and one dollar McCain has to burn in West Virginia is a day and a dollar he can’t spend in Florida or Pennsylvania.

I’m just saying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook