Advice For DEMS On Swing State Strategy

I’m going to give the Democrats some free strategic advice.  Listen up now.

Focus on the Midwestern swing states + 1.  Concentrate campaign resources in Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin plus Nevada, which is a state for real swingers.  According to polling by Real Clear Politics, Obama/Biden could have as many as 221 electoral votes from states that are  currently leaning or likely to vote for the ticket.  There are some 126 electoral votes up for grabs in Swing States that include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.  The 3 state Midwest strategy plus Harry Reid’s wild west Nevada, would yield 50 electoral votes, one vote over the 270 threshold.

Counter voter ID laws in the swing states by getting out information to voters on how to get an ID if they don’t have one.  And do it now, because it may take up to 60 days for some to get the needed documents to get a photo ID or the required ID.  Florida, Michigan, and New Hampshire require photo ID to vote.  Colorado, Ohio and Virginia require some form of ID, but not a photo.  Pennsylvania leans toward Obama/Biden, but does have a photo ID law, so it is important for Quaker Staters to photo up.  Worst case, voters should know that they may be allowed to cast a provisional ballot even if they don’t have a required ID provided they can supply it within a few days after the election.

Florida and North Carolina are close and if Team Obama wins either, it may be all over for Team Romney, but the odds are less favorable to Democrats there than in other places.  I’d make Romney/Ryan work hard in these “right to work” states to divert away some GOP campaign resources from the Midwest.

In all the battleground states, turning out the base is key.  Democrats, please don’t pander to the Independents and let them co-opt the election.  And to the good folks from the great state of Iowa with your 6 electoral votes, I’m sorry, you’ve had your fun, vote as you like, but don’t expect to bask in the glory of swing statedom.  You had your caucus and lots of media attention. And yes, I am impressed that a debate team from Iowa City West High School won the 2012 National High School Debate Tournament of Champions (TOC) which is worth a shout out, and certainly reason for you to support a candidate who supports high school activities like speech, drama, theater and debate…but Iowa, the elections will be won or lost in states around you.

Same goes for you New Hampshire with your 6.  You had your caucus.  You may be Independent, but you remember Mitt – you do!


Edge to Obama In Close 1st Debate

McCain may not have wanted to debate, but he didn’t perform as poorly as I thought he would.  That said, he didn’t win the debate.  Nor was he masterful, as Bill Bennett claimed.   McCain sounded annoyed most of the time.  His best moment came when he criticized Obama’s support for earmarks.  Obama countered that 18 billion in total earmark spending in the federal budget is insignificant compared to McCain’s 300 billion tax relief plan for the wealthy.  He never denied the 900 million earmarked for the state of Illinois, though he did mention that some of the dedicated funds went to fund Senior Centers.  As if ashamed, he said he no longer requested earmarks.  McCain rejoined that Obama only stopped his requests for earmarks after he declared his candidacy.  I don’t know why Obama didn’t go after Palin’s record of earmarks, but he dropped the point and lost the argument.  McCain used the refrain “Senator Obama doesn’t understand”, a number of times, but far from making Obama appear inexperienced, this rhetorical device simply made McCain sound cranky.

Obama on the other hand, did try to find common ground with McCain and did say a few times that Senator McCain is “right” and that he agrees with John, but he also said that McCain was wrong several times during the debate. One of Obama’s better points came when he questioned McCain’s judgement on his initial support for the Iraq War and the prediction that it would be a cake walk.  Obama also argued effectively that McCain’s emphasis on Iraq was taking away from the effort in Afghanistan.  I also think his defense of dialogue with Iran, (at whatever level, not necessarily at the Presidential level) which five other Secretaries of State have supported, including Henry Kissinger, McCain’s advisor, deflated McCain’s position that such an approach would be dangerous.  Though Kissinger denied saying he favored top level discussions with Iran, Obama never said that only the President should talk directly with Ahmadinejad.  What Obama said was that dialogue can be constructive at any level.  Conditionalizing talks means diplomacy is not an option.  If diplomatic solutions are not desired, anything can happen, and in my judgement, this is when the situation becomes dangerous.  Maybe the single best moment for Obama came when he pointed out that corporations take advantage of tax loopholes to avoid paying the 35% tax rate McCain claims should be significantly lowered.  Obama argued that he’d close those loopholes to raise revenues to pay for programs like Health Care.

McCain mentioned his hero again, Ronald Reagan.  He admires a former President I believe was one of the worst of the 20th century.  Obama should have pounced on the reference, but let it go.  See my previous post  Reagan – McCain’s Hero, No Hero of Mine

And what was the deal with McCain’s reference to an old pen?  He said “I’ve got a pen, (and he held up what looked to be a sharpie) this one’s kind of old”. I think the idea of using a sharpie or a dry erase pen to veto spending bills amused McCain and he had a sort of, well, not senior moment, that would be unfair, but let’s just say a private joke, that only he understood.  Bizarre, but he won a point with me for humor.

I don’t think there was a clear winner in this one.  McCain performed well, but did not deliver a damaging blow.  Obama performed well, but not well enough to persuade undecided voters.   I give Obama a slight edge.

Obama: B

McCain: B-

A CNN/Opinion Poll showed that 51% of viewers surveyed thought Obama did the better job.  Among women polled, 59% gave Round 1 to Obama.  Read the 1st Presidential Debate Transcript and judge for yourself.

10 Reasons McCain Wants to Delay Debate

ONE, McCain may not feel prepared for Friday’s debate. Using the economic crisis as a front, McCain could be trying to buy extra time to rehearse.

TWO, by not showing up at all for the debate, he can argue that it was better to be a no-show at the debate than a no-show in Washington. He has had his fair share of missed votes in Washington (more than any other Senator by far) and does not want to sit this one out.

THREE, he will argue that he put Country First by suspending his campaign and question Obama’s resolve, leadership and patriotism for not suspending his. Update: My prediction was true: in an interview today with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News, he actually said that if he did not attend the debate it would be because he was “putting Country First”, implying that Obama is being selfish by sticking to the original debate terms.

FOUR, if the bailout plan is approved, he will take credit for having led the way.

FIVE, McCain is a B- debater (see Mark Halperin’s review in Time magazine of the 1st Republican Debate) and will not fair well against a more polished Obama. McCain has more to lose than gain from a debate.

SIX, McCain’s campaign is losing steam. According to a Poll of Polls, Obama now leads in the critical battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Colorado and is gaining ground in key states like Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Arkansas. He needs to stop Obama’s momentum by diverting attention away from Obama’s message, forcing Obama instead to react to his agenda.

SEVEN, why risk losing ground in Mississippi, a state in which he has a convincing lead?

EIGHT, Bill Clinton defends debate delay.

NINE, McCain is desperate.

TEN, If he debates Obama on Friday, it’s all over!