Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Weeks and the Noise is Building, Part 1

Barack- He's going to Hawaii for two days to visit with his ailing grandmother. I'm hoping she'll be in D.C. visiting him on Jan. 20, 2009. Most pundits have placed their chips on an Obama victory, which has led to a conventional wisdom corollary: Ohio is just not that important anymore. In defense of this position, Obama is leading outside of the MoE in all of the states Kerry took, and appears poised to take New Mexico, Iowa, and Colorado as well. That gets him to 270 without Ohio, with enough room to spare a NH upset. To the extent this holds, people think that Ohio for McCain doesn't get McCain to the White House, and Ohio for Obama only happens if Obama has already sewn things up elsewhere.

How does this irk me? Let me ennumerate: 1) There is still a possibility that McCain will win this election. Nobody has called it for Obama in a guarantee sort of way. And while Obama might be able to win the election without Ohio, McCain cannot. If Obama wins Ohio, Obama wins it all. If McCain wins Ohio, holds most W states, and a Bradley Effect emerges in states where the margin looks big but the support for Obama is still under 52% (PA, MN, or MI), well... 2) Ohio matters so much, in part, because Ohio has always mattered. If Obama wins without Ohio, expect a whole lot fewer visits from either side in 2012. 3) You'll see many more Republicans and fellow travelers offering up the "Ohio isn't important, Obama will win anyway" chestnut. You'll be tempted to think that it is simply the tactic of lowering expectations. You'd be wrong. The majority of U.S. House seats currently occupied by Ohio Republicans have a legitimate chance to end up in control of the Dems. If McCain turns out more voters than Obama, most all of these seats will stay in the GOP column. Remember how Strickland and Brown promised to fight for a federal Sick Days Bill? Ain't gonna happen without some more muscle on the Hill. The GOP knows that most people think of this as a Presidential Election, and if they can convince Obama voters that they don't need to vote, they can prevent what they really fear happening in Ohio. 4) If McCain's Ohio campaign in 2008 outperforms W's in 2004, and if Obama wins decisively in the popular vote nationwide, what do you think the national and international view of Ohio will be? Seriously, it would require Kerry voters from '04 switching to McCain in '08 despite a national climate favoring Dems. There are many reasons that this could happen. I guarantee you that everybody outside of Ohio will fixate on exactly one.

McCain's hopes for victory, the GOP's hopes for enough strength in Congress to prevent Obama's agenda, Ohio's reputation, and Ohio's future political relevance all depend on the vote in Ohio. The vote in Ohio depends on your friends, your family, and your neighborhood. It depends on free and secure access to the polls on election day. It depends on targeted GOTV efforts on election day. So yeah, maybe Obama could win without Ohio, and maybe you yourself are gonna vote anyway or have even already voted. You do know that this is bigger than that, right?

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