Now that the conventions are behind us, the 2008 election is shaping up to be much closer than anyone would have believed months ago.
Still, it will be an uphill battle for John McCain as Barack Obama has the advantage this year.
If Obama wins, it should be a wake-up call to Republicans that the nation’s political landscape has dramatically changed, making it difficult for Republicans to win national elections.
A key factor in the challenge facing Republicans is shifting demographics. States such as Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada, once considered solid red states, are now faltering for the GOP.
In George W. Bush’s home state of Texas, African-Americans and Hispanics — traditionally Democratic voters — form a majority of the population. In 2006, Texas’ popular Republican Gov. Rick Perry won re-election with just 39 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
McCain is still expected to win Texas this time. But Republican majorities in other states are fraying.
Obama knows this. He has solid blue states New York and Massachusetts in his back pocket, along with most of the Northeast. Add to his base titanic California with 55 electoral voters and other left coast states like Oregon and Washington.
There is no indication any of these states will move to the right. In fact, these blue states are moving further to the left. Ronald Reagan won New York in the 1980 and 1984 presidential elections. It is doubtful a conservative Republican will win the Empire State any time soon.
This is why Obama and his campaign are so confident of victory. This is why he could pick Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate, though Biden adds so little to his campaign.
With such a solid base, Obama knows he needs to focus his campaign in just a handful of states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and North Carolina.
If he picks off a few of these states that have traditionally voted Republican in national elections — Colorado and New Mexico, for example — he wins.
McCain, on the other hand, has to run a national campaign to keep his base together and at the same time engage in battle with Obama for these key swing states.
To win, McCain must think outside the box. His pick of Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin indicates he realizes he needs to run a different campaign to beat Obama, the front-runner. McCain’s difficulties are compounded by the likelihood that Obama will outspend McCain by a ratio of 3-to-1 or more in these key swing states.
Obama’s massive campaign spending at the micro level is showing. Anecdotally, I have heard stories about massive voter registration drives and preparations to get out the vote with the help of unions, teachers, and other Obama fans.
Chief among these groups is ACORN, or Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a radical group that has been caught engaging in voter fraud. Not surprisingly, Obama has close ties to the group since his days as a “community organizer” in Chicago.
The New York Times noted that Obama had been a key ally of ACORN. His influence at charitable foundations “allowed him to help direct tens of millions of dollars in grants.” The paper also noted the key role ACORN played in helping him win his first state Senate race in Illinois.
ACORN’s Web site features a lead article about its voter drive for this election year. The group says it has already signed up more than a million new voters for the upcoming elections.
Joining the group’s efforts in registering new voters is the Rev. Al Sharpton. He is quoted saying that he and ACORN are targeting the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama.
ACORN calls its voter registration campaign “Not This Time” — a reference to the 2000 election when Al Gore lost the presidency by a handful of votes in Florida.
Obama’s team has no plans to repeat the 2000 election. They want to win with a bigger margin, and they have a “whatever it takes” approach to make sure that happens.
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