Thursday, September 18, 2008

“Obama Implodes in Georgia”

“Obama Implodes in Georgia”
By Bud White
September 12, 2008
Barack Obama, Bloggers, Florida, Georgia, Howard Dean, Ohio, Pennsylvania, general election

One of the arguments many Obama supporters made against Hillary was that she did not support Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy. Obama embraced the 50-state strategy to garner the support of the netroots and other activists. In a mydd diary posted this January, Obama, with his usual humility, was quoted as saying:

I think that we’re shifting the political paradigm here. And if I’m the nominee, I think I can bring a lot of folks along on my coattails. You know, there’s a reason why in 2006, I made the most appearances for members of Congress. I was the most requested surrogate to come in and campaign for people in districts that were swing districts, Republican districts where they wouldn’t have any other Democrat.

A narrative was developed in the blogosphere that Obama, unlike Hillary, would be able to touch the hearts of red state conservatives and turn them into Democrats. Hillary was too polarizing, it was argued, and she would be fighting for Kerry’s states plus 1.

It was mandatory at dailykos to believe that Obama was a map-changer. A diarist from North Dakota named Ab2kgj, in a post which would be funny if it weren’t so painful, suggested that Obama had a real shot at grabbing that state:

I’ll start with ripping a part of McCain’s base right out from under him. I live in North Dakota, and I have a feeling that we will be more of a swing state than people realize. Up here in nowhereland, the reason that Republicans do so well is because of “family values,” and an automatic 15 point bump in the polls. I gotta tell ya though. I see change in the air, because we also can smell phonies a mile away, and John McCain calling us “his friends” doesn’t seem to cut it for the sensible, middle of the roaders up here.

Regardless of what Ab2kgj sees in the air, Obama is not going to win North Dakota, but that fact didn’t stop the Obama campaign from expending millions in red states.

The Obama campaign has always known that they would have a hard time winning both Ohio and Florida, the recent path to the presidency. Campaign manager Plouffe:

said Ohio and Florida start out very competitive — but he stressed that they are not tougher than other swing states and said Obama will play “extremely hard” for both. But he said the strategy is not reliant on one or two states.

Talk of map-changing was utilized by Obama in the primary campaign as a tactic to hide his real weakness with blue-collar voters. Obama and his team have shown disdain for this core group of the Democratic Party, and Obama’s “hope” message fails to offer them a compelling reason to vote for him. Anglachel explains their hostility this way:

In the minds of the liberal elite, the problems and failures of the progressive agenda could be laid at the feet of bigoted whites, the “Archie Bunkers” of the North, and the “Bubbas” of the South. And there lies the strategic fault line of the Democratic Party, the willingness of a significant portion of the party, and I’m willing to wager the majority of the party power brokers, to see the electoral problem as how to minimize the damage of the Bunkers.

Not only has Obama insulted these Democrats who live in the greater Appalachia region with accusations of being bitter and bigoted, some of his supporters inferred that voters’ resistance to Obama was because of racism. But the real problem is that Obama does not appear to offer solutions to their economic problems. Howard Fineman believes that part of Obama’s troubles now stem from the fact that he does not articulate a clear, concise economic message:

It is not enough to be for change – everybody is, or is trying to be. To make it stick, Obama needed, and needs, to put forth an easy-to-grasp grand proposal, one that would encapsulate what his central message. That tagline? That he is dedicated, body and soul, to advancing the economic interests of hard-working, average Americans. He has the makings of such a proposal – his tax cuts for low and middle-income families. But he has yet to package that, or anything else, in an easy-to-grasp, hard-number plan for voters. Instead, he’s got more of a laundry list than an actual rallying cry.

Turning their backs on the rust-belt, Obama’s team, as recently as June, looked to deep-red states:

“You have a lot of ways to get to 270,” Plouffe said. “Our goal is not to be reliant on one state on November 4th.”

Plouffe has been pitching such a new approach to the electoral map in calls and meetings, according to several people who discussed the conversations on the condition of anonymity because they were meant to be private. Plouffe confirmed the descriptions in the interview.

Plouffe and his aides are weighing where to contest, and where chances are too slim to marshal a large effort. A win in Virginia (13 electoral votes) or Georgia (15 votes) could give Obama a shot if he, like Kerry, loses Ohio or Florida.

Although it appears Virginia is still competitive at this point, Georgia is now off the table. A new poll by InsiderAdvantage says that “Obama Implodes in Georgia,” and:

Poll Position survey of likely registered voters in Georgia indicates a steep decline for the Barack Obama campaign and likely explains why the candidate is moving resources out of Georgia and into other states.

Q. If the election were held today, would you vote for:

John McCain: 56%
Barack Obama: 38%
Other: 2%
Undecided: 4%

Obama’s collapse in Georgia has been sudden and dramatic. McCain is in the process of solidifying his base, but the demographics of this collapse do not bode well for Obama, and we should expect smaller but real shifts towards McCain in the more competitive states; that has always been the danger of over-extending your resources into unwinnable states:

InsiderAdvantage’s Matt Towery: “This is a huge slide from what had been, in our prior surveys, a relatively close race. The reason is simple—Obama lost serious ground in virtually every demographic.

“At first glance it would seem that Obama is headed for no better than the low 40 percentile level achieved by John Kerry in 2004. But let me warn observers that in both our national tracking and surveys in other states, the biggest change has been a near parity between the two candidates among the youngest of voters.

“Should that group return to Obama and the African-American vote end up where we expect it to be, the race could be closer in November. But as of now Georgia is no longer a “leans McCain” state. As of this survey, Georgia is in the McCain column.”

Obama’s shrinking map is not a shock to Hillary supporters, but it’s ironic now that Obama will have to turn to Ohio, Florida, and, particularly, Pennsylvania to attempt to squeak out a victory, places where he performed poorly in the primaries and to the voters he and his campaign have continually insulted.

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