lessons from America

Michiganders stick 2 fingers up at McCain

If you don’t live in a swing state, you can become accustomed to not getting much attention from the presidential campaigns.  Maybe there a number of state-wide or prominent local races that are very close and keep you interested.  Or maybe you just are resigned to casting a vote that doesn’t matter; or even not bothering to turn up and vote at all. 

But when you live in a swing state and are used to being courted and treated special, then one candidate makes the decision to ‘pull out’ – to drastically cut staff, advertising and campaigning of all kinds and move these resources to other more places they consider better bets – what is your reaction?  You’d likely be p***ed at the guy who jilted you, who tells you you no longer matter. 

And hey, that’s what we seem to have in Michigan.  Last week the McCain campaign announced they were no longer treating Michigan as one of their battleground, target states.  And now, as reported by 538, 

Rasmussen has the first polling out of the state since that announcement, and it gives Barack Obama a 16 point lead. This is a state that, as recently as a month ago, looked like it might be the most important swing state in the nation. Voters really, really don’t like it when you blow off their state. That’s why Hillary Clinton romped to such huge margins in West Virginia and Kentucky in the Democratic primaries, where Obama essentially refused to campaign. It’s why Obama won by more than expected in Wisconsin and South Carolina, which Clinton pulled out of early. It’s why Rudy Giuliani’s decision to ignore every state that didn’t begin with an ‘F’, end with an ‘a’, and have ‘lorid’ in the middle was a catastrophic failure. … If you act like you don’t care about somebody’s vote, you aren’t going to get it.

And before something says it’s just a reflection on the national trend. Well, yes Obama has been increasing his support in most states these past 2-3 weeks.  But the gains in Michigan not only outstrip those of the national tracking polls, but also the average gain in most other places.


October 10, 2008 Posted by | 50 State strategy | , , , | 1 Comment

The TV battleground

I haven’t yet written as much as I’d hoped about the progress and practical realisation of the 50 State strategy.  But seeing this table of recent TV ad spending by the campaigns, has inspired me to write a quick post. 

The headline figures – of McCain nearly doubling his TV ad spend to $9.3 million this past week, and Obama still outspending his opponent by an almost 2:1 margin – aren’t actually what I find interesting.  It is using the State by State breakdown to work out where the campaigns are going on offense and targeting.

There is significant expenditure in the major swing states (with the expensive media markets) you’d expect: Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.  And sure the less populated and cheaper swing states get their little slice of the pie too – the likes of New Hampshire, Iowa and New Mexico.

But the most noteworthy aspect is that Obama in particular is still trying to keep the battle up in a number of other states that wouldn’t normally get much attention.  North Carolina – yes North Carolina –  is one where he looks to be aggressive spending / targeting.  Indiana is another. There are small but significant ad buys in Montana and South Carolina (offense) and Maine (defense), all of which are places where McCain hasn’t spent a dime on TV advertising on in the past fortnight at the very least.  And West Virginia even gets a little look in, from both sides.  

While 19 is far from a full 50 State strategy, with a month to go til the election Obama is still trying to actively expand the electoral map, even with his TV advertising.  The resources pouring into the ground game I suspect are even more widely spread.

October 9, 2008 Posted by | 50 State strategy | , , | Leave a comment