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Obama's "mandate" strategy - will it work?

I read some commentary recently by someone who thinks Obama is making a mistake by trying to win lots of states instead of focusing strategically only on the states he really needs to win.  The fear is Obama's trying to win a "mandate" and not an election - and in doing so, may lose both.  This blogger suggested he "dump" his remaining campaign resources in the 2 states that, in her opinion, Obama really needs to win (then he wins the election even if most of the "conventionally red" states go for McCain).  The election comes down to that strange "electoral vote math" which is a post all to itself... but I digress.

I currently love checking the Yahoo Political Dashboard daily - where most states appear to be leaning blue - even though I know these polls are unreliable, and unless people turn out and VOTE, they mean nothing... I also admit that I like the idea of a "blue mandate" and I like how Obama's supporters seem to be focusing nationwide. 

But the idea that Obama could lose using this strategy frightens me - what happens if Obama supporters are being distracted by the polls, and due to whatever reason -- long voting lines, hateful robocalls, Bradley effect (if that exists) -- for whatever reason, Obama doesn't secure the states that seem to be leaning his way now.  What if, by a slight margin, McCain picks up the usual red states, and Obama doesn't secure states like PA & CO - much less states like OH, FL & NH... This scares me.

What about you?  What do you think?  Do you think Obama is making a tactical blunder?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 24th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
My honest opinion: I'm not sure.

On the one hand I can see an argument being made for Obama concentrating the approximately $250 million he'll spend from the convention to the election on a handful of swing states. It's a fairly traditional strategy, and for Obama to deviate from that strategy could be a mistake.

But let's be real here: between the DNC and Obama's election, they're outspending McCain and the GOP by probably a factor of 4 or 5 overall. And votes in an area are not linear: each additional vote you "buy" through advertising will cost far more than the last vote you "bought."

From what I hear Obama has absolutely saturated advertising in the swing states, with media buys outspending McCain in some states by as much as 100 to 1. (No, not a typo.) Dumping more money to outspend McCain on media buys by 200 to 1 or 300 to 1 would just be pointless.

Because he's saturated the airwaves and maximized his spending (he's spending money just as fast as he's taking it in), he may as well use the extra surplus of cash in other states attempting to expand the base.

There is another danger, and that is by saturating the airwaves to levels never seen before except in the last 72 hours of the election, it is possible that many voters are simply tuning Obama's message out. You see the same ads over and over again, and you start to ignore them. And while the strategy is tuned towards 'early voters', no-one knows what the demographics of early voters are: it is entirely possible that undecideds (the ones who really pick the next President) wait until they make up their minds, and early voters are just the guys who already know who they're voting for.

My own bottom line on Obama's campaign: he has an amazing operation. He has raised an absurd amount of money, and he has a very solid ground game. (He even has operatives in California soliciting money on the streets of Santa Monica.) As a candidate Obama has expertly positioned himself from the far left candidate who won the anti-war left from Clinton to a middle-of-the-road moderate with deftness that I never thought possible in this day of Internet transparency. And he has a huge number of supporters in the media who have run interference effectively for him.

Obama, in other words, has done everything possible to win the Presidency.

But one unseen factor in all of this is the electorate: voters are not mindless sheep who simply need to be led to the slaughter, but cantankerous, ignorant, foolhardy, prejudiced, opinionated, imperfect human beings.

If Obama loses, it's probably not because Obama's campaign made a tactical mistake, but because the voters were simply not going to vote for him, despite Obama doing everything humanly possible to win the election.
Oct. 24th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
Actually I'm in favor of the 50 state deal totally. He's apparently looking towards the future, just like Howard Dean. My belief, he'll win the national vote by over 10% even with funny voting machines. The better news is that people in the states he stuck with (and even lost) will be energized to work towards making more states blue in the future. Look at my state, Georgia. Hopelessly blue just 2 months ago, it looks like Obama/Biden will win and we're hoping it pulls a Democratic Senator with them.
You're doing a good job of posting Leah, Joe Biden must be as proud of you as I am.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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