Pushing into the Red States

Cross-posted at Clintonistas for Obama

Mark Halperin has a brief article up at The Page questioning Obama's strategy of targeting traditionally red states with staff and spending:

But every dollar and every hour spent in places like deeply Republican Georgia divert resources from must win battlegrounds like Michigan. Some strategists wonder, then, if Obama's campaign risks trying to win by a landslide and possibly losing by a hair.

Thanks for your hand-wringing concern, Mr. Halperin, but you couldn't be more wrong. Progressives can't gain ground by playing it safe, and neither can the Democratic party.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton increased turnout in the primaries to never before seen levels, and that includes those red states where Mark Halperin believes Obama is now wasting our money.

We have to expand the electorate, and we don't do that by singing to the choir.  This is a mistake that Democrats have been making for years, and finally, we have a candidate who sees that flawed strategy for what it is.  Howard Dean's 50 state strategy is a good one, and it's the model of future Democratic politics.  We don't cede half of the country to the Republicans, we fight them on their own turf.

John Kerry followed the "battleground states" approach in 2004, and we see how that turned out.  One of the worst mistakes he made was pulling out of Missouri when he did.

I don't know if Obama is going to actually win Georgia or not, but he's going to make John McCain spend some money here.  Obama is going to get more Democrats  and Obamacans out to the polls in Georgia, and that might be enough to slide Jim Martin into office. The down-ticket races matter.

Here's a bit of gleeful nonsense from the Washington Times:

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign laid out a list of 18 battleground states earlier this summer, and spent money advertising in each.

But the new Obama ad released just now will only run in 16 states. Seems red states Georgia and Indiana have been dropped from the list.

The fact is, Obama is aggressively pursuing voters in red states, much more so than John Kerry ever considered.  John Kerry fought in basically two states - Florida and Ohio, and ignored the rest of the country.

And let's not forget, that Obama outreach seems to working in Alaska.

Obama - strong    138/400    35%
Obama - not so strong    28/400    7%
Undecided - lean Obama    15/400    4%
Total Obama    181/400    45%

McCain - strong    127/400    32%
McCain - not so strong    26/400    7%
Undecided - lean McCain    8/400    2%
Total McCain    161/400    40%

This is how it's done, folks.  This is how you get a mandate - a real mandate, not the imaginary mandate Bush claimed in 2004. If we want universal health care, expanded FMLA and a constitution that's actually intact, we push into the red. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Tags: 50 state strategy, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, John McCain, Red States (all tags)



Tips for expanding the elctorate!

by Denny Crane 2008-08-13 07:36PM | 0 recs

It's about time Democrats stop giving Rethuglicans the upper hand EVERY FOUR YEARS. The "Play It Safe" strategy is why Kerry LOST in 2004. It's about time Obama take the fight to what was GOP territory... AND WIN! :-)

by atdleft 2008-08-13 08:00PM | 0 recs
More than that...

the Republicans are by their authoritarian nature more likely to enjoy centralized races where only a few states are in play (err... like gazillions of people shoiwing up to help Lieberman).

Democrats work better as a decentralized, we can strike anywhere, guerilla army.

So why not play to our strengths?

[note that places like Virginia are places where we can pool our efforts from nearby states. Ditto for Nevada. If it's an easy drive, then you get more people in the crucial final weeks.]

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-08-14 05:38AM | 0 recs
Great diary, Denny!

I think we have a real shot at changing the map this year!

by sricki 2008-08-13 08:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Tips for expanding the elctorate!

Mojo out the gogo go on that one,Denny!

by ReillyDiefenbach 2008-08-13 08:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

A different candidate wouldn't be able to pull off the 50-state strategy quite like this.  But when you have crazy amounts of fundraising, it would sure be a crime to blow off all the other red states so you can run 12 ads per hour in Ohio.  There's something called diminishing returns when you choose to focus all your funds on one or two or three states.

Something Obama understands really really well is the concept of the ask.  If you don't get out there and compete and ask every last person for their vote, then you're not going to get it.  The more we compete in the red states and try to present the Democratic Party as a viable option where people might not have looked it that way previously, the more ground we're going to gain in the long run.

by Steve M 2008-08-13 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

I agree with Steve. I want to see Obama fighting for every vote.

by Politicalslave 2008-08-13 08:04PM | 0 recs
Nicely said, Steve...

And I'm glad you mentioned the law of diminishing returns. One of Kerry's problems from 2004 is that he sapped out all he could get out of his selected "swing states" spending more than he needed to... While he missed real opportunities to flip red states like Virginia, Missouri, & Colorado blue. Instead, he put all his eggs into the "Florida & Ohio" basket... And they never hatched.

by atdleft 2008-08-13 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

Exactly.  John Kerry couldn't have run this campaign the same way - he just didn't have the resources.  But he could have reallocated the resources he had more wisely, and Obama would be a fool not to use the money to try and expand the map.

by Denny Crane 2008-08-13 09:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

And that's why Obama declined taxpayer financing for the election.

by politicsmatters 2008-08-14 05:43AM | 0 recs

rec a denny crane diary!

by canadian gal 2008-08-13 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States
Obama has the money, people, and the strategy.
Really love this diary and the specific points you made!  REC
by Politicalslave 2008-08-13 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

Denny wins the GOLD!

by QTG 2008-08-13 08:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

Regarding Indiana:

Here's one reason Indiana wasn't on the list of states getting the new Obama ad earlier - Hoosiers are getting their own ad slamming Sen. John McCain for saying in January he doesn't think the nation is headed into a recession.

The spot stars residents of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana disagreeing with a 7-month-old quote from McCain.

http://www.washtimes.com/weblogs/bellant oni/2008/Aug/13/indiana-gets-its-own-ant i-mccain-ad/

You can follow the link to see the Indiana-specific ad.

by rfahey22 2008-08-13 08:18PM | 0 recs
I'm liking the targeted "breadNbutter"

show the people you speak their language, speak to their concerns.

It's canvassing technique, writ large.

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-08-14 05:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

Don't so called experts in the media realize that this year's election defies conventional wisdoms?  You would think that the nomination of an African-American named Barrack Hussein Obama as the democratic presidential nominee would have clued them into that fact.  But, apparently not.  

by ProfessorReo 2008-08-13 08:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

I think that the commentariat have made it clear this year that they don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

by psychodrew 2008-08-13 08:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

I tend to agree, but I have a "go for the kill" mentality.  Virginia, Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Iowa...they make Ohio or Florida not so important as must have states.  

By all means, we should be contesting every state where we have even a 1 in 4 shot, because if you pull off a few of those, not only do we have a better chance to win '08 but we'll have the basis to continue party building for years to come.

by freedom78 2008-08-13 08:38PM | 0 recs
Nice diary Denny..

..this one's for you...Guess who

''Alberto appointed me to carry the ball for Team USA. The greatest lawyer in the world representing the greatest country in the world. A match made in heaven.''

by hootie4170 2008-08-13 08:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Nice diary Denny..

I recognize that!  And I'd like to thank the academy for my Emmy nomination...

by Denny Crane 2008-08-13 09:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Pushing into the Red States

I think again the pundits and the media, who have decided that the only thing that matters is advertising dollars spent, are missing where I hope Obama/Axelrod are pulling the slight of hand:

Spend the money on offices, staff in those states to organize Registration and GOTV teams.

Any new registration is a win for Obama, a win down ticket, and a win for the future.

A lot of these states, as both the demographics change with age and immigration are shifting, we need to plan for the future.

Nixon's southern strategy, which road Reagan et all into power is running out of steam.

This about this election, but also about the future.

It's not like Obama is ignoring Michigan, as someone pointed out, he has the funds to play there as well in the south.

by WashStateBlue 2008-08-14 08:08AM | 0 recs


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