Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 17, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

VIRGINIA....A couple of weeks ago a friend in Virginia emailed to complain that Barack Obama didn't seem to be taking his home state very seriously. There wasn't even an Obama office in Richmond yet! Then, a couple of days ago, he emailed to tell me that Richmond finally had its office. Hooray! I thought of him this morning when I read this in the Washington Post:

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign announced Wednesday that it is adding 20 offices across Virginia, an unprecedented effort by a presidential candidate and another sign that he plans to compete vigorously in a state that has been on the sidelines during past presidential contests.

....The offices, partially funded by the Democratic National Committee, are the latest signal that Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, considers Virginia to be a crucial component of his strategy for securing the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Virginia has 13 electoral votes.

Plus there's the news that Obama raised $52 million in June, a record number that seems even more dramatic than it is because the Obama campaign's delay in announcing their totals had started fueling rumors that his fundraising was in trouble. If that was deliberate, it's very shrewd showmanship indeed.

Anyway, Virginia is in play big time. That's very bad news indeed for John McCain.

Kevin Drum 10:38 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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Comments

If you have moved to Virginia recently, you must register within 29 days of the election in order to vote. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Everyman on July 17, 2008 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

We so much for the 4th Amendment? Jeebus.

Posted by: Me_again on July 17, 2008 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

For about three weeks now, Chuck Todd has been on various MSNBC shows relentlessly flogging the story that Obama has a "cash problem." I wonder what he'll say if, in fact, he looks at the official number for June.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on July 17, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

'That's very bad news indeed for John McCain.'

Kevin, haven't you learned that EVERYTHING is good news for John McCain? In this particular case, I'm sure the fact that Obama and the DNC are investing so much money in Virginia can only mean that they've given up competing in traditional swing states like Ohio and Florida.

Very bad news indeed for Obama.

Posted by: David Bailey on July 17, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

How come nobody is talking about this?

Jib Jab vs New Yorker so isn't strange that the Jib Jab satire isn't getting any criticism or hostility unlike the New Yorker Mag satire, even as it shows McCain pokeing his swollen gland right before McCain kills over.

Somebody should ask Ms. Modo why this seems to be the case.

Posted by: Me_again on July 17, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

If Virginia is actually in play, then Obama wouldn't even need to campaign there- the election is already over. I think the money and effort is better used in Ohio, Florida, and Missouri.

Now, from a post-election point of view, using the money in VA to support other Democrats running for office might make sense. No reason not to gather favors for later use.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 17, 2008 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Very bad news for McCaint, yessir, but most importantly very, very bad news for the rapidly dessiccating Republicants. Thanks to Obama, and Dean before him, there will be far fewer tight races stolen with third-world electoral thuggery, never mind the capture of young voters for generations. It's going to be extremely gratifying to watch the putrid stew known as modern conservatism wither back to its essential base of twisted cranks and whiny misanthropes. Obama's organizing prowess continues to be, for me, his most powerful asset as a politician.

Posted by: Conrad's Ghost on July 17, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Plus there's the news that Obama raised $52 million in June, a record number that seems even more dramatic than it is because the Obama campaign's delay in announcing their totals had started fueling rumors that his fundraising was in trouble. If that was deliberate, it's very shrewd showmanship indeed.

And makes dead-ender Clintonites and McCainiacs who've been repeatedly posting fervent (and, more often than not, barely literate) hopes for his campaign's financial downfall look pretty stupid. But why should this week be any different for them?

Posted by: shortstop on July 17, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

when the virginia returns start coming in on election night, watch Loudon county. That's where Jim Webb pushed it over the edge.

Posted by: lina on July 17, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

$52 million should stifle the anonymous Obama basher and make McDodo soil his diaper.

Posted by: Brojo on July 17, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Yes indeed Virginia is in play. But I suspect a winning margin in VA for Obama will be different than the win for Gov Tim Kaine and Senator Jim Webb and even Mark Warner's current senate race. These three candidate were able to snag enough white voters from the smallish independent cities in the mountain regions and southside (think Charlottesville, Roanoke, Danville...) that the huge margins in NOVA, inner city Richmond and Hampton Roads put them over the top.

Obama will not get many rural votes -- these folks remain convinced of every false whisper making the rounds out there. Sadly I found this to be the case talking amongst some acquaintances in Clarke County just west of the Blue Ridge Mts about 1 1/2 hours Northeast of DC. So his best hope for victory is superlative GOTV in NOVA, Richmond, Tidewater and every college town (think Blacksburg...), the obvious focus being on African American voters, college students and suburbanites.

Posted by: HokieAnnie on July 17, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward wrote: I think the money and effort is better used in Ohio, Florida, and Missouri.

Since we all know how much you're rooting -- in a ruggedly individualist way, of course! -- for a Democratic win come November, Yancey, we'll take that advice for what it's worth.

Meanwhile, those among us who aren't dishonest idiots know that a) the Obama campaign is devoting parts of its considerable resource advantages to traditional battleground states like Ohio and Florida, b) Obama's 50-state strategy could well result in an electoral vote win without thse states, and most importantly, c) that the 50-state strategy, along with the piss-poor reputation of the Republican Party, forces McCain to spend its own scarce resource defending formerly safe seats.

This election, all across this great nation, Democrats are playing on Republican turf as even voters in red states eagerly await their chance to reject the failure, mendacity and incompetence of the Republican Party.

The 50-state strategy paid off for the Democrats in 2006. I think it'll take more than some loony libertarian's concern trolling to change anyone's minds on that score.

Posted by: Gregory on July 17, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know if Obama will win this thing but I just love the fact that he has adopted Dean's 50 state strategy. Why the rest of the party leadership hasn't been for it is a mystery to me and explains their complete incompetence.

Posted by: Lew on July 17, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

My elderly mom, who lives in Maryland but is part of the the DC tv market which covers Northern Virginia (including Loudon Co), and who is a big Obama supporter, tells me she's already tired of Obama ads which she says run every 1/2 hour on local tv. When I told her this was a good thing because it meant that Obama thought he could win Virgina by targeting NoVA, she said she'd suck it up and stop complaining about the ads. But she did ask if she could 'mute' the TV and do something else while they were on. Knock yourself out, Mom.

Posted by: clarice on July 17, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

From the ever clueless Gregory:

Obama's 50-state strategy could well result in an electoral vote win without these states

The above quote alone shows what an idiot you are, and how completely you misunderstand presidential politics. Here is the reality- if Obama loses Ohio, Florida, and Missouri, he will lose the election with a nearly 100% certainty.

If McCain were in the lead, and was encouraged to spend money in California or New York because they were suddenly "in play", I would write the same damned thing I wrote in the first comment- the money would be better spent on those states that can guarantee a victory. In Obama's case, winning Ohio or Florida makes it 100% certain that he wins the election. By spending resources in states he is not likely win (and VA is still a state he is unlikely to win in a two way race), he dilutes his effort and gives McCain a chance to pull out a narrow Electoral College win.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 17, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Virginia is hugely in play.

Unlike some other campaigns, the coattails will belong to the state-level candidates.

Obama gets to run with the hugely popular Warner. McCain gets to run with the widely disparaged Gilmore.

Gilmore's the best the Republicans can field as they retreat into a dead-end reliance on declining rural areas that drives smart politicians like Davis out of the party.

Urban areas are as angry as they can be at rural Republicans' lock on road-spending and total disrespect for the state's urban economic engines.

Republicans are going to be soundly spanked this year in Virginia. Republicans will probably hold onto their majority in the House of Delegates, but all state-wide votes are going to break decisively for the Democrats.

Posted by: Jon on July 17, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Jon wrote:
"Republicans will probably hold onto their majority in the House of Delegates, but all state-wide votes are going to break decisively for the Democrats."

Well yeah -- the next GA elections are the year *following* the presidental election. But all bets are off in 2009 -- they are royalling pissing off NOVA.

Posted by: HokieAnnie on July 17, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

An Obama office has just been opened within walking distance of me, in Newport News. Yes they are taking VA very seriously. BTW I will likely start working to register voters, for an outfit called The Fund for the Public Interest at http://www.fundforthepublicinterest.org/, and maybe other campaign activities.

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 17, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

They have even opened an Obama office in Lynchburg.

Posted by: Brian on July 17, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey, your resorting to your typical argumet-by-assertion is no more convincing than your transparently insincere concern trolling, especially when you fail to address -- dishonestly, no doubt -- my points about Obama's edge in campaign resources, polls trending his way even in Red states, and forcing McCain to spend resources he lacks defending his own turf.

The above quote alone shows what an idiot you are, and how completely you misunderstand presidential politics. Here is the reality- if Obama loses Ohio, Florida, and Missouri, he will lose the election with a nearly 100% certainty.

Yancey, that's just bullshit. According to Electoralvote.com, if the election were heald on today's map and you give McCain all the ties -- 14 EV, including Missouri, plus Ohio's 20 EV (he's ahead in Florida at the moment), Obama still wins 300 to 238. By the way, Obama's lead in Virginia would count for that.

I guess it isn't ruggedly individualist of me to provide actual facts as opposed to arguing by assertion.

By spending resources in states he is not likely win (and VA is still a state he is unlikely to win in a two way race), he dilutes his effort and gives McCain a chance to pull out a narrow Electoral College win.

Except that Obama outraised McCain by -- what? -- 20 million dollars this quarter, so he has an abundance of resources to spend in states that he isn't likely to win. Which, of course, forces McCain to spend resources he can ill afford defending those states, especially with an electoral landslide rejection of the Republican brand looming, and also cedes the intiative to Obama.

But more than that, your mere assertion that Obama isn't likely to win Virginia -- which elected a Democratic Governor and Senator recently -- is far from convincing. I note again that Electoral-vote.com shows a slight tilt toward Obama right now -- more resources spent there by the Donks could make it a sure thing, or prevent McSame from snagging toss-ups like missouri or North Dakota.

Obama enjoys an advantage in resources and enthusiasm, Yancey. He can well afford to outspend McCain in must-win states and play on his turf. People are eager to volunteer for Obama despite the so-called "liberal media"'s best efforts.

McCain, not so much.

Really, Yancey, that you miss such an obvious point after I pointed it out to you only reveals how clueless you are, and how desperate you are to cling to the fantasy that McCain has a prayer this November. The issue isn't whether your precious Republican Party is going to get whipped this November, it's how badly.

It all comes down to the fact that the entire nation is rejecting the Rebpublicans you backed over the last eight years and still support with your dishonesty here. I know it must sting, but your pose of rugged individualism is rapidly being revealed as a fool clinging to a dishonored and dishonorable brand.

But, oh, yes, the Democrats will raise your taxes, while you can, and do, dishonestly ignore the debts the Repukes have piled up to give you your sweet, sweet tax cuts. Well, that's enough for you, then -- carry on.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on July 17, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I wish Obama and the DNC would take his own homestate a little more seriously. I'm volunteering for a suburban Chicago House candidate Scott Harper (IL-13) and we're working with old voter files and waste a lot of time phonebanking culling defunct wrong numbers. There's a logjam at the state level I hear Durbin is working to rectify but we've been promised the new DNC VAN "any day now" since April.

I know Illinois isn't a top priority, McCain doesn't stand a chance here. But we have four more House races here in the collar counties we can win this fall just like we helped Bill Foster take Denny Hastert's seat in March.

And that's no pipedream either. Harper outraised 10 year incumbent Judy Biggert in the second quarter. We organized the biggest canvassing event Sunday this district has ever seen, in July no less. In March Harper's staff sent 100 volunteers to help Foster in the special election. We're doing the groundwork and fundraising but it'd be less of a slog with that voter file.

Posted by: markg8 on July 17, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

They're holding an open house in Woodbridge, and I'm making loads of chocolate chip cookies for the event.

Posted by: pol on July 17, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain is going to get annihilated in November.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 17, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Obama shouldn't expect to carry the inner DC suburbs of Northern Virginia by vastly larger margins than Kerry did in 2004; he will outperform Kerry in exurban counties such as Louduon and Prince William, but that won't be enough to carry the state.

Those gains could well be offset by military retirees in both NOVA and Hampton Roads (Norfolk and environs) flocking to McCain.

The tipping-point constituencies will be:

1. 30- and 40something yuppies and dinks in and around upscale downstate college towns (Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg, Blacksburg, Harrisonburg) and the inner suburbs of Richmond, Roanoke and Hampton Roads. If McCain polls 53% or less in these suburbs, Obama wins, assuming he also sweeps...

2. Young and minority voters, mobilized effectively by the Obama campaign in the Feb. 12 primary but requiring constant TLC lest they tune out by Nov. 4. That's one reason Obama is staffing the state so heavily. Another is that a conceivably pivotal share of the black vote is in small rural counties in eastern and southern Virginia, which may be logistically unprepared for a big uptick in turnout. If Virginia becomes the Florida of 2008, it will be because of turnout crushes and slow vote counts in counties named King & Queen, Isle of Wight, Fluvanna, Nottoway and Lunenburg. (Mike Allen, the only bigfoot political journalist who could find these places without resorting to MapQuest, will be the Nov. 5 expert du jour.)

Cautionary notes:

Do not expect the successes of Mark Warner in 2001, Tim Kaine in 2005 or even Jim Webb in 2006 to be replicated by Obama. Many Virginia voters reflexively support GOP presidential candidates while voting for Democrats at the state and congressional levels.

The Virginia GOP is notorious for fighting dirty. The party machine is controlled by people who worried that Jim Gilmore wasn't far-right enough (!) to be its Senate nominee. The Obama campaign should expect the full panoply of whispering campaigns, voter-suppression drives and other slash-and-burn tactics. It will need rapid-response at the precinct level.

Posted by: allbetsareoff on July 17, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

I was considering moving to Maryland, but it's far more interesting living in a purple state than a blue one.

Haven't seen much of Warner in NOVA because he probably figures it's a slam dunk. If Obama does manage to win Virginia, it will be on Warner's coattails. His toughest sell will be military country in the southeast, and the rurals/border-Appalaichians in the west. Somebody needs to do a census analysis. My rough guess is the north has maybe 75% of the college degrees, but less than 50% of the population. Could be tricky. I think the investment in VA is well worth it.

Posted by: kudzu on July 17, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

My elderly mom, who lives in Maryland but is part of the the DC tv market which covers Northern Virginia (including Loudon Co), and who is a big Obama supporter, tells me she's already tired of Obama ads which she says run every 1/2 hour on local tv.

Posted by: clarice on July 17, 2008 at 1:12 PM

This has been the basis for my belief from the Pennsylvania primary that Obama is a paper tiger who will fade as Election Day draws closer and closer. Once McCain gets into a tie or even overtakes him in the polls, say around late September or October and Obama responds by pouring his money into massive air buys in the swing states, the number of people like your mother who get sick of his ads and will tune him out with only increase.

Posted by: Chicounsel on July 17, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Once McCain gets into a tie or even overtakes him in the polls, say around late September or October

and you base this assertion on what exactly? Oh right, you got nothin'. I can just as easily say that Obama will widen his lead in September and October, especially after debates where everyone can see and hear what a clueless and shitty speaker McCain is. Actually, Obama's lead will probably widen even sooner than that, after everyone can compare his performance at the convention to McCain.
You're gonna lose, deal with it.

Posted by: haha on July 17, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and I forgot to mention the ridiculous notion that too many ads or too much money will actually hurt Obama. That's a new one. I guess in conservatard fantasyland, the voters will tune out Obama's ads and tune in to McCain's--although there are a lot of McCain ads running here in Pennsylvania already, so his won't work come the fall either and you're still gonna lose. I love it!

Posted by: haha on July 17, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Two points about Virginia as a Northern Virginian--

1. In 2004, there was a single coordinated campaign office in Merrifield (Fairfax) to serve everything in NoVa other than Alexandria/Arlington (handled ably by the Jim Moran campaign). And Kerry largely abandoned it around October 1. There are at least 3 this time, plus the Moran operation. The Tom Davis seat is up for grabs and Frank Wolf will have to fight to keep his against a strong challenger, Judy Feder. Looking good in NoVa.

2. The establishment GOP isn't making much of an effort to support Gilmore against Mark Warner. The business side of the party is trying to stay friends with Warner, even raising money for him. Who knows the effect on the McCain campaign, but Gilmore has to be a drag.

Posted by: Tommy Corn on July 17, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

After the General Assembly again frustrated Northern Virginia in its recent special transportation session, getting absolutely nothing done (including dedicated Metro funding) and threatening the future of Metro's Silver line to Tysons Corner, Dulles Airport and eastern Loudoun County (note the correct spelling, folks), this part of the state is royally pissed, and Obama can take advantage of the anger.

If more of the same continues in Richmond in '09 -- thanks largely to downstate House of Delegates Republicans -- expect to hear more and more talk about secession, to form the state of North Virginia (from Loudoun eastward and Prince William northward, with Fauquier, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg City joining in if they so desire) and get away from these backward southerners. Perhaps West Virginia had the right idea 145 years ago.

Posted by: Vincent on July 18, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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