In an email to people accepted into their Organizing Fellowship Program, the Obama camp listed the 17 states below as the ones where they need the most resources:
So, Obama will run a 50 state campaign, but it will be layered with a 17 state focus. This isn't a contradiction, at least not as I understand the 50-state strategy. The strategy does not dictate that resources are spent equally across the entire nation, just that some resources are spent everywhere. Certain areas are still more heavily targeted, but no area is ignored.
Overall, I would have ignored Washington, and used those resources on Alaska, Connecticut, Montana and Nebraska-02 instead. (Combined, those three states and one congressional district have roughly the same population as Washington). Given Bob Barr and the large African-American population, Georgia probably makes more sense than an alternate possibility, targeting Indiana and the Dakotas. (Combined, Indiana and the Dakotas have roughly the same population as Georgia).
I look at the list in more detail in the extended entry.
Georgia, huh? This is perhaps the biggest surprise on the list, but the Obama campaign seems ready to make a play for it. One factor might be that Libertarian nominee Bob Barr is from Georgia, and he has won elections here before. As Barr drains votes from McCain, increased African-American turnout could make the state close. Still, even with Barr at 6-8%, McCain still leads here by 10%. I have to believe that Obama has already put Sam Nunn on his short list if he is targeting Georgia, and that makes me very nervous.
Not targeting Arizona. Despite implications, even from the McCain campaign, that Arizona might be in play this year, the Obama campaign isn't shooting for it. That is probably pretty smart. While nominees sometimes lose their home states (Gore, for example), when the state already leans toward that party (Bush won Arizona by 6.32% in 2000, and 10.47% in 2004), it seems highly unlikely. Good call to not heavily target the state.
No West Virginia: While it is a good move to not target West Virginia with organizers in and of itself, hopefully the Obama campaign will still run paid media there, as southeast Ohio shares media markets with West Virginia.
No Maine, Minnesota: Over the past two cycles, Maine and Minnesota were both considered swing states, particularly Minnesota. This time around, the Obama campaign appears to believe they have Minnesota, and Maine's 1st congressional district, in the bag. Avoiding ME-01 because it already leans your way and is only worth one vote makes sense, but what about...
No Minnesota, but Oregon?: It is a bit of a surprise to Oregon on this list, but not Minnesota. Pollster.com shows Obama ahead by identical 50.8%-39.0% amounts in Minnesota and Oregon, and both states will also feature competitive Senate elections. Neither really feel like swing states this time, to tell you the truth. But it gets worse when you see...
Washington? Really? Obama is ahead by a whopping 16.2% in Washington. In fact, according to Pollster.com, my Presidential forecast, and fivethirtyeight.com, Obama's Washington lead is surpassed only by his lead in D.C., Hawaii, Illinois and Vermont. If your 5th best jurisdiction is a swing state, then I'm Elmer Fudd. This really feels unnecessary.
New Jersey and Oregon, but not Connecticut? While I am a little surprised to see New Jersey on the list, it isn't all that surprising. What does surprise me is that the Obama campaign is hitting New Jersey but not Connecticut, given that the two states are extremely similar in this election. Either way, both will probably be closer than, Oregon, a state that has the same number of electoral votes as Connecticut.
Where are the small states? A case could be made for Alaska, the Dakotas, Delaware, Montana, and Nebraska-02 as swing states. While I have no problem avoiding Delaware (it can be reached by PA media and already leans pretty blue anyway), Democrats have been on real winning streaks in the Dakotas and Montana recently, and polls show both Montana and North Dakota in single digits. The calculation must be that these states are simply too small, population wise and electoral vote wise, but with a widely distributed population, for resources to be effectively spent there. Obama avoided South Dakota in the primaries as well.
Alaska would have been great: While polling shows Obama down by 7-9% in Alaska, this year it will feature highly competitive congressional campaigns for both the House and the Senate. Also, Anchorage makes up 40% of the state's population, making the population much easier to target. Further, Bob Barr should do well in Alaska, as the state is more pro-third parties than any other in the nation (except possibly Maine), and also has a real libertarian bent. It is a big disappointment to not see more targeting in Alaska, especially given what strikes me as a waste of resources in Washington.
Lots of tricky decisions, but with the exceptions I listed above the fold I generally agree with them. Run a 50 state campaign, but layer it over the top with seventeen highly targeted states. If Obama wins the seventeen states listed above, plus the remaining Kerry states, he will win 379 electoral votes.