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Tilting at Windmills

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October 2, 2008

MCCAIN GIVING UP ON MICHIGAN?.... With about a month until Election Day, the McCain campaign has found itself with some unwelcome and uncomfortable questions to consider. The Obama campaign is stretching the map, and putting plenty of "red" states -- Ohio, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Virginia, Nevada, North Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri -- in play. McCain would love to play offensive, but with Obama's poll numbers looking stronger, he has to start giving up on some "blue" targets.

And according to the Politico's Jonathan Martin, McCain will no longer try to win Michigan.

John McCain is pulling out of Michigan, according to two Republicans, a stunning move a month away from Election Day that indicates the difficulty Republicans are having in finding blue states to put in play.

McCain will go off TV in Michigan, stop dropping mail there and send most of his staff to more competitive states, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. Wisconsin went for Kerry in 2004, Ohio and Florida for Bush.

McCain's campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Republicans had been bullish on Michigan, hopeful that McCain's past success in the state in the 2000 primary combined with voter dissatisfaction with Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and skepticism among blue-collar voters about Barack Obama could make it competitive.... But recent polls there have shown Obama extending what had been a small lead, with the economic crisis damaging an already sagging GOP brand in a state whose economy is in tatters.

A McCain event planned for next week in Plymouth, Michigan, has been canceled.

I'm sure the McCain campaign didn't want to do this. They saw Michigan as a key pick-up opportunity, or at a minimum, a state they'd force Obama to work hard to keep Democratic. But Michigan wasn't getting any better for McCain, and all of a sudden, he has to start thinking about those "red" states where Obama is surging.

In this sense, it's a smart move for McCain to make. He's wasted some time and money there, but he's not in a strong enough position to keep fighting for a state he's likely to lose, especially when states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina are moving quickly in Obama's direction.

I suppose the next question is, how long until McCain gives up on Pennsylvania, too?

Steve Benen 2:53 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (60)

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Comments

Iowa, bitches!!! -John McCain

Posted by: anonymous on October 2, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't one key reason for Michigan in play for McPain all along the oft-repeated "white union members just can't bring themselves to vote for Obama" meme? Is that no longer a given? Or, was it all BS in the first place?

Posted by: barrisj on October 2, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

..no longer try to win Michigan.

NOW that's Change We Can Believe In!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 2, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone consider Iowa and New Mexico in play any more? Those look like safe Obama states to me. McCain's position is getting bad very quickly.

Posted by: g. powell on October 2, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I smell blood.

It's a simple concept behind the 50 state strategy.
Commit forces to even unlikely targets to force the opponent to spend at least SOME resources defending previously "safe" territory.

McCain may be executing the same mistake Democrats made before. Ceding territory so that Democrats may now redeploy forces from Michigan to places like North Carolina that are in striking distance but currently unlikely.

Giving up on Michigan may mean losing North Carolina. The dominoes start to fall.

Send you thanks to Howard Dean.

On another note....
Is this the lack of funds we're seeing that I thought were at the heart of McCain "suspending" his campaign? Perhaps he was told to create some cover for a spending freeze so he could save a little for the crunch later on....

Insterad of cutting off everyplacve temporarily, they've opted to cut off Michigan for teh duration.

Either way, we've seen a body blow that is sending McCain towards the ropes.

He's not on 'em yet, but it's a good sign Obama's forces can hope to follow up on.

On to North Carolina! And Florida! And Colorado! And Nevada! Yeeeeeeargh!

Feels good, y'know?


Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 2, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Prediction: McCain will claim this report is not true ("We'll fight in every state across the country") but in reality they really will give up on Michigan.

Posted by: Speed on October 2, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

HAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAA!

Posted by: shortstop, age 12 on October 2, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

McCain knows Michigan is safe. That's why he has made this strategic move.

There are a lot of hunters in Michigan, and Palin has won them all for the GOP.

Posted by: Al on October 2, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

So let's get this straight: if McCain pulls out of Michigan and Pennsylvania, how can he possibly hope to with the election? By my calculations, while there are some roads to McCain at 270 if he loses Michgan and Pennsylvania, there are not many credible ones. Even if McCain does win FL and OH, Obama only needs to keep Kerry states (minus NH), win IA where he is dominating, and then pick up either VA, NC, MO, or IN for the win, CO for the tie, and that in combination with NV or ANYTHING else for the win. So my question is can McCain win by only playing defense? Does this mean the race is really over but for the shouting?

Posted by: ReallyFedUp on October 2, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Does Obama subtly shift his resources elsewhere also? Blunting any increased monies McCain sends to Ohio and Florida? Seems once this starts it could cascade badly for McCain in short order.

Posted by: ateve duncan on October 2, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

McCain would love to play offensive

They have been playing offensively for some time now. What they would like to be doing is playing offense.

Posted by: The Kenosha Kid on October 2, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Er, aren't most of the states you list actually *purple*? Like Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, and Missouri? The only true "red states" on your list are Florida, Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Posted by: David in Nashville on October 2, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone consider Iowa and New Mexico in play any more? Those look like safe Obama states to me. McCain's position is getting bad very quickly. Posted by: g. powell

Iowa? That's been Obama's for weeks now.

As far as states with big EC tallies, it seems it is down to Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Most polls show Obama leading in all three as of this week. That pretty much leaves McCain the reddest of red states, which combined don't amount to much in popular or EC votes.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 2, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

He'll stay in Pennsylvania maybe through the second debate, but in reality he's playing to keep the Bush04 states minus New Mexico and Iowa. He has to go all in in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and maybe N.H. (assuming he loses Colorado), and if he spends too much elsewhere he won't have the resources to defend those adequately.

Posted by: matt on October 2, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the democrats I've seen commenting on lefty blogs have for months been saying MI was never going Republican this year. As a MI expatriate, I was inclined to agree. My brother, who lives in the northern lower peninsula, was concerned, however, about the sheer racial factor in the state. Looks good now, though, as I and others had thought.

Posted by: David in NY on October 2, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Now I don't think you can blame Michigan, which is just across the water like this from Wisconsin that is still in play, for phoning it in on the Exxonomic Assist Plan with Festoons that the Senate phoned in yesterday.

I think the Palin/McCain will be obvious tonight when Ms. Awfill asks me why Senator Liberals is not as popular at the rallies as regular folks who are on the ticket are, Charli . . . uh . . . I mean . . . g.powell, anonymous, and the resta ya'.

Posted by: Paris Sailin on October 2, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Give it a few more days - pretty soon we're going to see McCain beating a hasty retreat from Asia to Australia where all he can do is hole up and collect his extra two armies per turn!

(whereas Obama has obviously solidified North and South America, fortified his Alaskan border with Kamchatka and is now moving his armies from Brazil into West Africa in a westward sweep of Global Domination!)

(alright, clearly I need a more interesting job ;)

Posted by: neilt on October 2, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget, you can see Canada from Michigan, so lots of Michiganders have absorbed Canadian socialism by osmosis....

Posted by: Stefan on October 2, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Compare and contrast:

Obama pulls out of Georgia.

McCain pulls out of Michigan.

My response: what shortstop said.

Posted by: Gregory on October 2, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

So unless McCain continues trying to flip WI, MN, and PA - all of which seems quite improbable, and always has, and IA and NM solidly Obama, that means McCain will be aiming for Bush's map in 2000. But how much money has he wasted in those blue states in the meantime?

Posted by: arbitrista on October 2, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, al-bot, Michigan is safe.

If al-bot is now parody, the parody is lacking. If we're back to the original al-bot, good grief, it must be slitting it's digital wrists as it watches McCain spiral down the drain.

Posted by: An Anonymous American Patriot on October 2, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Love the Risk analogy, neilt. Totally made my day. Thank you.

Posted by: ReallyFedUp on October 2, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose the next question is, how long until McCain gives up on Pennsylvania, too?

Or Virginia, for that matter. I'm only half-joking. Obama is the definite frontrunner in VA at the moment, and there's no reason to think that will change any time soon.

Hell, the most recent polls I've seen show McCain's lead down to single digits in Mississippi, Georgia and Texas, for crying out loud. McCain needs a game-changer, and soon, if he's going to have any hope at all.

Maybe he could name a young, energetic unknown as his VP, someone who will help solidify his base. Or maybe he could 'suspend' his campaign in the name of addressing the meltdown in the financial markets. Or maybe . . . .

Yeah. He's rapidly running out of bullets.

Posted by: David Bailey on October 2, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

That action means more than all the punditry in the country does.

That's Just What I Said

Posted by: Dale on October 2, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

David in NY: I'm also a MI expat, and went back over Labor Day for the UM football game (Utah won 25 - 23!). My generation, and the next older, were all still firmly in the Rethug court (I don't even bother any more to ask them to explain their thinking), but the younger generation were all planning on voting for Obama. When I asked, they couldn't think of anyone their age who would vote for McCain. MI was never going to go that way (although I was worried about racial bias also until I talked to the youngsters--thank God for them!).

Posted by: Michigoose on October 2, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

And this year, the governor of Ohio is a Democrat. There's less chance of Republican state-sponsored shennanigans.

Conversely, Florida will be welcome but I presume the Republicans will cheat again.

Posted by: Gregory on October 2, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Prediction: McCain will claim this report is not true ("We'll fight in every state across the country") but in reality they really will give up on Michigan.
Posted by: Speed

I agree. If McCain can claim to suspend without suspending then he can claim to not suspend while suspending.

That's Just What I Said

Posted by: Dale on October 2, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

When will he give up on the campaign all together?

Posted by: Naz on October 2, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

None of the upper-Midwest states (Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin) is or was in play. Maybe the numbers looked mushy from time to time, but McCain had no shot at any of them and I said so here and elsewhere.

Why?

Because voters in all of those states are 'pragmatic' voters. They tend to be less ideological (compared with, say, the Bible belt) and less driven by rhetoric than results. Given the non-results (anti-results?) of the past eight years, the odds of them voting for ANY GOP candidate were long. Given McCain's ties to Bush and his non-record on the economy, forget it.

If McCain wants to concentrate on states he needs to win, he should be spending all of his time in OH, CO, NM and NV.

And by the way, where's the story about how John McCain doesn't seem to have any pull in those key western states?

Posted by: The Phantom on October 2, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

The real worry is that voter purges and suppression is going on all over the country, the Sec of State in Colorado is busy stealing the election for McCain, this is the only way that we will lose this election. If anyone knows how to contact the Obama people I hope they are doing it. We have to try to stop it.

Posted by: JS on October 2, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

And the Ohio Dem governor is enormously popular. And a gay marriage referendum hasn't been snuck on the ballot at the last minute this year. And we're tired of Republican scandal plaguing our state. And we're tired of losing our jobs. And I feel like this early voting stuff is really going to help.

And well, I just really want my state to go blue. I'm really feeling it...

Posted by: Suburban Paradise on October 2, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

NAFTA: Was and is the problem for the auto workers. CLINTON pushed and signed NAFTA. The blue collar workers should remember this and not vote because of race...think of your selves and jobs first when you vote.....Same goes for all the jobs lost to NAFTA In Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.....A certain person already told Canada not to worry, no one thinks the promises will be kept, per the primary news....Hillary brought this out in the news....one of the better things she did.

Posted by: eddie on October 2, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bring on the swift-boating! Really, can this be far behind? McCain is getting desperate and when a repub gets desperate - the knives come out. Hopefully, people will see the desperation for what it is. This is going to get a whole lot uglier before it is over.

Posted by: Lori on October 2, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

NAFTA: Was and is the problem for the auto workers.

Well, and the fact that the geniuses making gazillion-dollar bonuses in the big offices, when they weren't offshoring jobs to China, were building bunches of gas guzzlers that they can't give away now.

NAFTA has nothing whatever to do with the fact that the Big Three automakers have been losing muney by the bucketful for years, and accountability-free golden handshakes for the suits is the Republican hallmark, not the Dems'.

Posted by: Gregory on October 2, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Bring on the swift-boating!

Already been tried.

Epic fail.

Posted by: Gregory on October 2, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

NAFTA: Was and is the problem for the auto workers. Posted by: eddie

Not really. The American auto industry has been on the defensive for thirty years against better quality Japanese and, until recently, European cars. The only thing that postponed the inevitable death or at least extreme contraction of the U.S. automobile industry was relatively cheap gas through the 80s and 90s and a pliant Congress willing to let the industry pretty much write meaningless CAFE standards.

By the time NAFTA had been signed, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and BMW had assembly plants in the U.S. and contracts with domestic suppliers.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 2, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Lori,

You're absolutely correct, things are going to get VILE in the next 5 weeks.

starting with tonight. There is going to be some sneering viciousness emanating from Palin's tattoo'd lips in St Louis. It's the only thing she can do well.

that being said, I'm going to be watching with my case of PBR (a fitting choice of bevrage during economic hard times wouldn't you say?) and my Palin Bingo cards!

http://www.palinbingo.com/

:D

Posted by: neilt on October 2, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

The debate tonite might not last the whole 90 minutes….if Palin starts rambling all over again, this might be the 1st Apollo type vice presidential debate where the members of audience starts booing and the dude with the broom shows up from behind the curtains.

Posted by: Akinola on October 2, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

reality check. the election ain't until november. nice trends certainly, but let's not celebrate until obama officially gets his ec majority.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on October 2, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

reality check. the election ain't until november.

Point taken.

nice trends certainly, but let's not celebrate until obama officially gets his ec majority.

And when it tops 300, we'll party like it's 1999!

Posted by: Gregory on October 2, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

I guess that idea of challenging the votes of people who lost their houses didn't pay off the way they planned in MI.

Posted by: markg8 on October 2, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop is clearly more mature than I am because her Simpsons' Nelsonesque "Haa, haa" captures my response perfectly and I'm a hell of a lot older than 12 [sigh].

And this year, the governor of Ohio is a Democrat. There's less chance of Republican state-sponsored shennanigans.

Ah yes, but what about the Secretary of State? Wasn't he the one that guaranteed a Bush victory in '04?

OT: How come the poster's name is no longer in the lovely reddish font?

Posted by: ckelly on October 2, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's official: McCain has pulled out of Michigan.

And re: the Detroit automakers, most of the fault lies w/their management being so mind-bendingly stupid. They assumed that gas would be cheap forever, so they kept cranking out SUVs (that's short for 'Silly Useless Vehicle,' incidentally), with no provision to build anything else. This is almost a perfect repeat of the '70s, when GM's idea of a small car was the Nova (or, as I prefer to call it, the 'No Va'). For those of you who don't remeber the mid-'70s Nova, it was a land boat, hardly a compact, in a time when people wanted gas-sippers.

Fast foward 30 years, + Detroit's doing the same thing: making gas-guzzlers when people don't want them. Their response, naturally, has been to cut prices and sell said gas-guzzlers at a loss, while closing factories rather than retooling to make the small cars + hybrids that people want.

Classic MBA management: do what benefits you this week, who cares if it kills you next week. Their management deserves what's coming to them; the problem is, it's the factory workers who pay the price, not the moron MBAs who got them into the problem in the first place.

Sound familiar?
-Z

Posted by: Zorro on October 2, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I really think the talking heads are going to smell blood and make this their Topic de Jour. (not that I'm complaining about this one). They love to have some new tennis ball to batter about for hours on end. Next up from gramps..." Well they declared my campaign dead last summer and I came back " Yeh but that's before you picked a Moose fore a running mate and the press still believed your Maverickity horseshit.

Posted by: John R on October 2, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

that's before you picked a Moose fore a running mate

C'mon, now, don't insult the noble moose!

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on October 2, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Zorro,

Have you noticed how they've stopped calling 'em SUVs? Now they're "Crossovers"...whatever the hell THAT means!

cheers!

p.s. to Eddie - I'm pretty sure NAFTA is not the problem with the Auto Industry. After all there are A LOT* of Canadian autoworkers who are also hurting big time.

* See mr. grammarfuhrer? I spelt it write!

Posted by: neilt on October 2, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

we'll party like it's 1999! -gregory

Ah the salad days, when all we worried about was Y2K and Bubba's BJ's.

I think I'll watch the debate in closed caption; I'm afraid my eardrums will burst otherwise.

Question I would ask Sarah Palin:

"Boxers or briefs?"

Posted by: Helpful Heloise on October 2, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Zorro - You are absolutly right - how demeaning to the Moose population , who are obviously more articulate and have a better grasp of Washington Politics

Posted by: John R on October 2, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Classic MBA management: do what benefits you this week, who cares if it kills you next week.Posted by: Zorro

OT, but when are people going to quit thinking that MBAs and JDs make people better at running business and banking? If MBAs are all so fucking smart, why does Shrub have one from the HBS and why are we in the mess we are financially?

I now return you to your regular gloating and tirades.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 2, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

If MBAs are all so fucking smart, why does Shrub have one from the HBS and why are we in the mess we are financially?

In fairness to MBAs (and there's a phrase you won't see me use often), Shrub isn't terribly typical of them, since he owes his entire career to his daddy's address book.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on October 2, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

C Kelly, @ 15:56,
I think Ohio has new Sec of State too, this time around. Also a Dem.

Posted by: exlibra on October 2, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think Ohio has new Sec of State too, this time around. Also a Dem.

So is the Attorney General. She's a replacement for the previous one, who resigned due to scandal.

Posted by: Gregory on October 2, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Question I would ask Sarah Palin: "Boxers or briefs?"

Palin's response would inevitably involve hockey moms, lipstick on a pitbull, + the Bridge to Nowhere.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on October 2, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

This morning, as I was in the Fairfax government center changing my voter registration from California to Virginia, I got to talking to the other folks also doing last minute registrations.

Lots of us, it seems, are rushing to register in a battleground state from safely blue states. We all mentioned watching the polls and deciding that we can do more for America by tipping Virginia to Obama than by giving him a crushing victory in Maryland, Massachusetts and California.

I'd love to see if my experience is more than an interesting anecdote.

Posted by: Auto on October 2, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Please don't call Iowa a red state. I'm sensitive about it, being from there. But look it up - it's had only one bad cycle in recent memory.

Posted by: BJ on October 2, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Holy crap. This is the first time I'm starting to think in the back of my mind that Obama might, just might, win.

Posted by: True on October 2, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK
Have you noticed how they've stopped calling 'em SUVs? Now they're "Crossovers"...whatever the hell THAT means!

"Crossovers" (also, XUVs, CUVs) are generally car-framed vehicles that have some similarity to an SUV or minivan. They are usually smaller than typical SUVs, though (as "SUV" seems to have become a bit of toxic marketing term, and "crossover", because of its connection with smaller vehicles, is more acceptable) that's blurring as "crossover" is being used for more typical SUVs.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 2, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Michigan... now it will disappear into the black hole that other, non-competitive states (such as my home state of Washington State) exist in prior to the election.

I am so tired of the fact that the same 6 or so states decide the fate of the nation every 4 years.

Posted by: Brian on October 2, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

I am so tired of the fact that the same 6 or so states decide the fate of the nation every 4 years.
Posted by: Brian

Yup. Until we get rid of the Electoral College and establish federal control of the primaries, this will always be the case.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 2, 2008 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Until we get rid of the Electoral College and establish federal control of the primaries, this will always be the case.

That will require a Constitutional amendment. And, given how many small (in population) states would lose out on this, it's very unlikely that such an amendment would meet the requirement of 2/3 of states ratifying it.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on October 2, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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