With less than 50 days until the presidential contest between Barack Obama and Sarah — whoops, I mean — John McCain, there is good news and bad news for Democrats.
First, the bad news: by picking Palin, McCain hit a trifecta. First, he solidified the conservative base by selecting a pro-creationist hunter who doesn’t believe that women who are raped should have access to an abortion. Second, McCain narrowed the enthusiasm gap, and for the first time, he has thousands of adoring fans and future volunteers at every campaign stop.
Finally, and most importantly, McCain unabashedly acknowledged that the way to the heart of the 10 percent of the American electorate that remains undecided is through American Idol-esque gimmicks targeting women (hockey mom motif) and men (see the hottie carrying a gun and a Bible motif).
Topping it off, the McCain campaign got a substantial polling bounce, nationally and in key battleground states, turning this race into a dead heat.
Here’s the good news: the mainstream media has largely turned on McCain, their onetime hero, because of his campaign’s consistent lying about Palin’s record and the lack of access to both McCain and Palin in recent weeks.
The angry opinion-makers might craft a “comeback kid” narrative that could propel Obama to victory, or at minimum, put a few dents in the ’72 Datsun that carries the McCain banner of “change.”
The Palin selection has also energized the Democratic base, which staked the Obama campaign to its largest fundraising month ever — $66 million in August. Democrats hope to sustain these fundraising figures, because they have built the largest bottom-up grassroots organizations in the key battleground states and money is essential for fueling these get-out-the-vote efforts.
The eight states to be targeted most intensely with resources are the traditional industrial states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan; the Western states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada; and finally, Virginia and New Hampshire.
Rhode Island Democratic activists have “adopted” New Hampshire as their second home, perhaps realizing that those four Electoral College votes gave the 2000 election to George W. Bush.
This past weekend, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (whose chief of staff, Mindy Myers, is Obama’s New Hampshire state coordinator) led two buses to the Granite State to track down and talk with undecided voters.
Volunteers using the RI.BarackObama.com site are planning almost daily trips to New Hampshire, and the Obama headquarters at 321 South Main Street in Providence is buzzing with phone calls to undecided voters.
“We’re confident that Rhode Island will deliver a big win for the Obama/Biden campaign, but we’re certainly not taking anything or anyone for granted,” says Rhode Island Obama director Ray Sullivan. “And, this past weekend alone, we sent more than 160 fired up volunteers to Manchester and Nashua, where they reached undecided voters who were eager to learn about Sen. Obama’s message of change.”
Will the message of “change” usher in a new party with a historic new American presidency, or will Karl Rove’s team somehow steal the mantle and win a third term?
Here’s my prediction for November 4: Obama wins all the states that John Kerry won, plus Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado. That gives Obama a 273-265 Electoral College win — a narrow margin that requires Rhode Island’s adopted state of New Hampshire to go blue.