There’s a strategy in nuclear war, believe it or not, that’s called Bravo-Romeo-Delta. The B stands for ‘blunting’, R for ‘retardation’, and D for ‘disrupting’. A blunting attack means that you’re trying to blunt the opposition’s capacity to strike you, retardation means you’re trying to take out your opponent’s communication infrastructure, and disruptive means you’re going all-out, in an effort to destroy your opponent’s means to conduct war. The Delta-stage is usually the last, and most destructive phase of nuclear conflict.
Over at RealClearPolitics, the GOP-leaning Tom Bevan looks at Barack Obama’s chances in getting 7 ‘red states’ to come over to his column. Bevan doubts that Obama’s strategy will work. But that’s beside the point. Obama’s campaign team is trying to ‘Bravo-Romeo-Delta’ the McCain team all at once. And the reason is that Obama simply has more money to buy ammunition, and the timeframe to do it.
Team Obama is aiming at seven red states to rake in, come november. Some states come across as viable targets, like Virginia and Indiana – both reddish states but with old industrial cities, where manufacturing jobs have disappeared fast in the past eight years. A lot of people in those states are very angry with the Republican thugs that have trashed the US for all those years. Time for payback. In these two states, Obama stands a reasonable chance.
Normally, Indiana would not be in play. The people of the good Hoosier State are usually okay with voting Democrat when it comes to local politicians and even members of Congress, like Representatives and Senators. Evan Bayh, for instance. But Indiana normally votes GOP for the presidency. (I dunno, perhaps they want their presidents to have a destructive streak.)
But the other five states seem long shots. North Dakota, North Carolina, Montana, Georgia and Alaska aren’t exactly Democrat Land. Au contraire. So, Bevan concludes, Team Obama is hoping that it can lure Team McCain in spending some of his meagre funds in those states, therefore allowing him less money to spend in battleground states like Ohio and Florida.
Now flip the coin, and you can see why some McCain operatives must be getting restive over Obama’s spending spree in those seven states anyway, and regardless of Bevan’s arguments. The RealClearPolitics electoral college aggregate poll is revealing. The RealClearPolitics-count is 238 electoral votes for Obama, and 163 for McCain.
Count out the tossup states, and it’s still 322 votes for Obama, and 216 for McCain. People have so far been glaring at the popular national vote polls, which show the race between Obama and McCain increasingly tighten. But that’s not what either David Plouffe (Obama strategist) or McCain’s strategist Rick Davis are looking at.
Their eyes are fixed on the electoral college vote. So far, those numbers have been consistent, regardless of the national popular vote aggregate. Obama has a pretty sizeable buffer to play around with that fantastic asset, like anyone with a lead in any election: time.
The situation on the battlefield is that Obama simply has more guns to fire, and the time to move them around. McCain has fewer guns and more ground to cover. He’s already racing around the country, hopping from state to state, and is dedicating his time almost exclusively to the local media. That’s telling, because that’s the kind of flying around candidates usually do to either pre-empt holes, or plug them in the last month or so.
The reason: even if Bevan is right and Obama in the end only gets two out of seven states, he will still have gained two states that are normally not in play for any generic Democrat. Even winning one state, Indiana, would be a hoot. And it would still mean that McCain had to have been on the defensive offense all the time, demanding too much of his overstretched artillery, while Obama’s guys are blasting them from every side.
And then there’s the foot soldiers. The mantra of the 2004 election was ‘ turnout, turnout, turnout’. Team Bush, of whom many people have now joined the McCain campaign, knew that a lot of Democratic-leaning voters were fired up to vote Bush out of office. So the GOP boosted its get out the vote-machine to levels never seen before. They managed to squeeze out approximately 60,000 more Bush-voters in Ohio after a very polarising campaign.
After they managed to tarnish John Kerry’s image as a war hero, the next step was reigniting feelings of fear among the electorate. Still, Bush almost lost and many of the 60,000 voters that gave him a second term had been canvassed incessantly by the Bush campaign machine. Oh, and the local political machine too – Ohio had a GOP governor, and thus blatantly GOP administrative infrastructure.
Polls show that the Bush foot soldiers of 2004 are no longer as motivated now as they were in 2004, and the political machine of Ohio has changed hands. Democrats run the place.
The same thing goes for states like Virginia and Indiana, but there’s a catch: in 2004, the GOP didn’t really need to build up big, expensive GOTV infrastructures in those two states. They will need to do so now; they simply cannot afford to take the chance of losing either one of them to Obama.
Team McCain is also betting on the GOP itself to help out their presidential candidate. That may be, but locally, the GOP is in problems. There’s not a whole lot of money to spare in the GOP congressional coffers, so the candidates won’t be very eager to share what little cash they have with McCain. And they will be even less inclined should Team Obama succesfully carry out another strategic attack: that of throwing McCain in with Bush.
If Obama succeeds in painting McCain as a Bush Republican, something which isn’t hard to do as McCain has embraced nearly all Bush policies, few Republican state candidates will want to infect themselves with the bad image.
So. Obama has the money, the ammunition, he has the time to place his artillery and foot soldiers wherever he wants them to, and that while he is in the position to paint the new general of the opposing army as a cardboard copy of the last general that lost a big battle.
Once again, this election is Obama’s to lose. With all he has going for him, we’ll see where he stands in three weeks, when I return from my holidays.