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September 22, 2008

Obama Abandons the Fifty State Strategy

He's giving up on North Dakota, Georgia, Idaho, and Alaska. Of course, they're making it about race.

The Associated Press reported this evening and an Obama spokeswoman confirmed that the Chicago-based campaign is pulling its 50-some staffers out of the heavily Republican state full of embittered small towns and shipping the workers east to Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the Democrat's prospects seem brighter and closer.

John Kerry did the best of recent Democrats there, getting 36% of the North Dakota vote in 2004 -- 3 percentage points more than Al Gore in 2000.

The abandonment of at least one Midwestern state by Obama comes as a new AP poll indicates that race could play a significant role in deciding a close national election. (See video.) Some experts

estimate the first African American candidate of a major party might be as much as 6 percentage points more ahead if he wasn't black.

Yes, all of that editorializing ("embittered small towns") is in the original.

These four states are indicators of where the contest is going and which dreams (yes, pipe-dreams) the Democrats are giving up on.

Georgia: the Obama campaign had dared to hope that it could pick up some Southern states with large black populations. Georgia was the most promising, but Obama's pulling his TV ads there. As money is needed for more likely prospects, expect a Democratic draw-down throughout the South.

Alaska: for reasons passing understanding the Democrats have been talking up Montana. They seated the Montana delegation front-and-center during the convention, as if to declare their intentions. Obama made a trip out to Billings. But as Alaska goes, so will go Montana and Alaska is going for Palin.

Obama may have felt like he had to spend time in these places because of Howard Dean's Fifty State Strategy. The idea is to whip up Democratic activists in every state. It may not help with the presidential election, but they think it will win them a few down-ticket races.

Obama may also have been trying to force McCain to defend states he already was winning. If so that has been a monumental failure. Obama's pulling out of North Dakota. McCain never had anyone in North Dakota...and still he's winning. The same thing went on in Florida over the summer, where Obama spent millions and McCain spent nothing...and still he's winning.

In any case, as Obama starts to realize that he's got to do better than winning just John Kerry's blue states, he'll target his resources more carefully onto the battlegrounds...other than Florida, of course, which I think he's going to lose quite handily. He's already on the defensive in Michigan and Pennsylvania. He needs to somehow take Ohio or Virginia and preserve his margin in New Mexico and Colorado.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:13 AM

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