Obama closes on McCain in red states
Thu July 10, 2008 11:01 am

Congressional Quarterly is reporting that Barack Obama is making inroads in traditionally red states. Readers may recall that Karl Rove questioned Obama's strategy (Rove on Obama's Chances to Win a Red State). It is fundamental that Obama must change the political map in order to win the presidency, but the question is whether he should focus on trying to steal a couple of red states or concentrate his resources on the swing states that have been pivotal in the last two elections (Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, New Mexico). Here is how the red-state strategy is fairing:

* Montana: Bush won by 11 points in 2004, Obama leading McCain by 5 points
* Colorado: Bush +4, Obama +5
* Virginia: Bush +8, Obama +2
* New Mexico: Bush +1, Obama +3
* Florida: Bush +5, Obama +2
* Indiana: Bush +20, Obama +1
* Georgia: Bush +16, McCain +1
* Mississippi: Bush +20, McCain +4
* Alaska: Bush +26, McCain +4
* North Carolina: Bush +13, McCain +4

That these states are even close indicate the dire circumstances for the Republican party.

--The only Democrat to carry Montana since LBJ in 1964 was Clinton in 1992.
--The only Democrat to carry Colorado since LBJ was Clinton in 1992
--No Democrat has carried Virginia since LBJ
--New Mexico should not be classified as a red state. Bush won it in 2004, lost it in 2000.
--Florida has voted Democratic only twice since LBJ, for Carter in 1976 and Clinton in 1996
--The last Democrat to carry Mississippi was Carter in 1976
--The last Democrat to carry Alaska was LBJ
--The only Democrat to carry North Carolina since LBJ was Carter in 1976

Like all polling, these results are a snapshot in time, and this particular time happens to be a low point for John McCain. His campaign is in turmoil and his message discipline is nonexistent. It has been four months since McCain wrapped up the GOP nomination, and he has basically squandered that time. The biggest worry for McCain is something he can't do anything about: Rising gasoline prices and the worsening economic news can only feed the public's appetite for change. This is real trouble for the Republicans. Meanwhile, Obama's luck is in. He gets the benefit of being criticized by Jesse Jackson.

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