Friday, July 18, 2008

Tipping Point States

Fivethirtyeight has a good map of "tipping point" states - those states that will be decisive in the Presidential election.

This shows us where the fight will be: in the rust belt (Ohio/Indiana/Michigan/Pennsylvania), which currently generally leans Obama, and the "new south/west" states of Virginia & North Carolina, and Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana - states that are libertarian with a conservative tradition but influx of ethnic/new technology workers - which at the moment are close but probably with a slight overall edge to McCain.

I think Obama has been doing well in the rust belt with his economic message, and the "anybody but a Republican crook" sentiment of the current economy. If McCain rights his message on the economy, he could start making inroads here, so Obama can't take this for granted: he needs to hammer McCain on the economy daily. The rust belt is likely going to be where he wins or narrowly loses.

The new south/west can also give him the edge to seal the deal. Obama's "unity" message appeals to the new south/west, but I'm afraid that's getting a bit overshadowed in the heat of the partisan nature of the general. It's tricky: Obama needs to hammer McCain but at the same time still appear to be a force of unity and "new politics." His trip to Europe/Iraq is necessary, but could he be going at the wrong time? He needs to be threading this needle and hitting McCain/espousing unity in order to bring the fight to where it counts. He needs something symbolic and dramatic. Like if he could get a Colin Powell endorsement and have Powell join him in Iraq. And come out with an economic stimulus plan endorsed by prominent conservative economists. All this noise Republicans are making about his name and his character is just the sort of thing that will drown out Obama's message. Getting prominent Republicans to break with their party and tell people to actually listen to him is what can counter that. That's the sort of double trump Obama needs now to start taking the fight home in the states the count.

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