Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Out of the Blocks

In two weeks time no one is going to remember Michael Phelps. The next few weeks the drama will be played out on the front page and not the sports page. During that time two vp pick and two conventions will occur. To add to the drama, Bill Clinton will take center stage and decide of he is riding or hijacking the bus.

Much of the preamble leading in has been amusing. Today we were treated to reports from Joe Biden's dump run. We learned that he was removing 150lb tree stumps. This may actually be more than the tree hugging left can bare. But I digress.

So this is where the action starts.

So where does this put the race:

Obama Advantages:
Ground game- Obama has more offices in more key states with more full time staffers than McCain. This may be the only part of the early campaign that is of significance. If the race turns out tight, voter registration could make a big difference. He was also helped by a long campaign where he spent significant time in each state building up his organization.

Enthusiasm- Whether is is passion for the candidate or loathe for the Republican Party, there is a major enthusiasm gap. A NBC poll released today showed that 12% of Republicans and 46% of Democrats were very excited about their candidate. Even if by small percentage points, that has to effect turnout.

Money- While the RNC and DNC gaps are closing, the money Obama has in the bank $65 mil and the money he will raise over the last 90 days (possibly another $175 million), Barack is going to have at least $240 mil to spend against McCain's $85 of public financing. You can buy a lot of ads in a lot of states and pay for a lot of staffers for $the difference of $155 million and it could be even higher than that.

Convention- Part of this is just the enthusiasm gap, but I would expect a speech for the ages by Obama. Even though the RNC follows the week after, the bounce should be much higher coming out of Denver. This could also translate into even a bigger cash advantage if he is able to capitalize on it

Team Obama-If he picks a cabinet as well as he picks his campaign staff we will be in good shape. Plouffe, Axelrod, Jeff Berman, Jarrett and Gibbs are about as solid as you get. Jeff Berman's delegate strategy in the primary essentially was the difference between Obama and Clinton.

McCain Advantages

Democratic guilt- I really know no other way to put it. The GOP has always had guys like Atwater and Rove that don't mind stretching into the distasteful. The DNC may hit hard, but not dirty and Obama has an even bigger distaste for it. I would expect that there will be ads smear campaigns that hit Obama hard.

Racism- There are a certain amount of people that whether they admit it to themselves or not that will not vote for him for the simple reason that he is black. Some of Hillary's more ardent supporters that can't bring themselves to support him, may have "other" issues. Rush Limbaugh today was preaching to his masses that Barack Obama is a product of affirmative action.

Simple Messages- The GOP has done a great job in boiling down their platform into simple bite size nuggets that a redneck from Tennessee can understand. "They are going to raise your taxes" "They are not experienced enough" "Drilling is good" "There will be a terrorist attack if you vote for them". In some respects boiling complex issues down to such simplistic absolutes is mind numbing but it is very effective. It is easier to understand "Drilling is good" than "we need a comprehensive energy plan".

While on the surface it seems that Obama has more inherent advantages but don't underestimate how the three advantages McCain has plays into the campaign. It will be an interesting next three weeks as the campaigns shift into overdrive.

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