The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Obama strategy appears to be paying dividends

Posted by Bill Nance on October 3, 2008

Barack Obama’s campaign strategy, from the primaries through today, has been to cover all the bases. He has spent millions on a ground game that’s covered virtually every state, including many which would normally be given up as completely unwinnable by any almost Democrat.

He’s also been able to raise and spend significantly more money than his opponent.

This “cover every base” strategy sounded like a loser to me. It’s hugely expensive and takes a lot of very good people away from winnable states and puts them in places he has little chance of actually winning.

But have a look at this map from and you’ll see some interesting trends:

Notice the following states: Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota. These are all nearing the toss-up category, and indeed in daily tracking polls, several have been vacillating between pink and white (barely GOP to toss-up) for about a week.

In most years, barring an incredibly popular candidate, Democrats can kiss these states goodbye. In both 2000 and 2004, Bush won these states by very wide margins. Even in the 1996 blowout of Republican Bob Dole, all but Missouri went Republican and even there had Ross Perot not taken 10% of the vote, Dole would have probably taken the state.

The economy is hurting John McCain badly this year and the meltdown of the last couple of weeks have made this worse. But another factor is the Obama ground game. He has invested huge resources in all but one  these states (North Dakota).

The result of all this is that it’s making McCain spend limited money in states he should have been able to count on with minimal effort. When these states start to become plausible for an Obama win, McCain has to invest time and money to keep them. Not huge amounts, but spread over several places, it adds up quickly. This weakens him substantially in areas which really ARE toss-ups. where Obama can out-spend him by huge margins. With Florida going from red to light blue, McCain has yet another place he has to spend big money and lots of time.

It’s starting to look like the Obama strategy of “strong everywhere” is going to work, if nothing else, because he can outspend McCain. In the end, it may all work out to a fired up base, tons of student volunteers and of course, lots and lots of money.


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