Saturday, June 7, 2008

Insider Access Makes for Great Entertainment (and Concern)

Yesterday, John McCain's official campaign website posted a new video slideshow prepared by McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis.

Over the course of fifteen minutes Davis presents the data and tactics behind McCain's strategy to defeat Barack Obama. Granted, what you'll see is far from the entire official campaign plan drafted behind closed doors and being quietly executed — in the form of strategic fundraising pitches, event planning, and alliance-building, not to mention VP selection — but this taste of "insider" strategy reveals interesting information nonetheless.

One of the most noteworthy parts of the video is the McCain campaign's identification of its battleground states. It seems the campaign will be focusing highly on two states in the Midwest that I previously pegged as this election's hottest contests — Ohio and Michigan — as well as Wisconsin.

In addition, Davis says the Southwest (including the recently liberal-leaning state of New Mexico) is McCain-friendly due to the Senator's record of public service in Arizona and his "strength with Latinos and his record on immigration."

My guess is the McCain folks uploaded the video to show potential GOP fundraisers that a win in the 2008 election in within reach and the Republican Party is stronger than many might have previously thought; if Davis' remark about over 500 campaign offices opening in targeted states during the next four months isn't an inspiring line for Republican supporters, then McCain has no chance of rallying support.

I believe posting the video was a smart move. A lot of what's in the video is disconcerting for any Democrat and could lead some Democrats to second-guess Obama's nomination and erode their confidence in his candidacy. Take for instance Davis' line that a state like West Virginia — where Clinton defeated Obama by 41% — is essentially "off the map" for Obama because Democratic defectors will now vote for McCain since Clinton's out of the race. If that's the case, McCain picks up an easy 5 electoral votes.

Though the new McCain strategy briefing would lead one to believe McCain will sweep the November election, it's important to consider that a similar presentation by one of Obama's lead strategists would show quite the opposite. It's also worth noting that Obama is already fighting back with a new fundraising effort against McCain. Today, Obama's website sounded a call to arms against indications that the GOP fundraising machine is now stronger than Obama's. The advertisement urges Democrats to top McCain and the GOP's collection of over $45 million in the past month.

If Obama's fundraising totals from the Primary Election are any indication of his strength, his campaign should achieve their June goal.

No matter how many "all-knowing" campaign managers like Davis make predictions, we should take each one with a nice big grain of salt. That's not to say they don't make for entertaining reading (or viewing)...

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