“Barack Obama’s path to reelection runs through Ohio and the Midwest, not around them,” he writes. “And that means taking seriously the concerns of the voters throughout the region who deserted Democrats in droves last year.”
The Post’s Chris Cillizza laid out the arithmetic of Obama’s expand-the-map strategy on Monday, examining the extent to which the president can lose a number of the states he took away from Republicans four years ago and still win reelection.
“The grim economic state of the country has created a toxic political environment for Obama,” he wrote. “But the ground on which the 2012 election will be fought still favors him and should give Democrats some hope that he can claim a second term in a year’s time.”
Obama’s strategy was successful in 2008 for several reasons. One was having superior resources. By declining federal financing for the general election in 2008, Obama was able to amass the biggest campaign bank account ever. He used that money not only to massively outspend Republican nominee John McCain on television but also to invest heavily in voter registration and mobilization efforts that helped change the electorate in key states.
Another reason some of states that have not been traditional battlegrounds look appealing to the Obama team is because the president attracted a coalition unlike that of most previous Democratic nominees.
Obama’s coalition was built on record turnout among African Americans, enthusiasm among voters under age 30, strong support from Latinos and the candidate’s appeal to well-educated white women. Together they helped him to become the first Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson to gain more than 50.1 percent of the national vote.
That coalition, say Obama advisers, still makes such states as North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado more attractive targets for the president than some traditional battlegrounds such as Ohio, which has a larger percentage of white working-class voters and older voters, two groups that have been difficult for Obama.
Galston examines recent polls and comes away convinced that the evidence today makes it “unlikely that a mass mobilization of weakly connected ‘new coalition’ voters — especially Hispanics and young adults — will succeed to the extent that it did in 2008. And second, the United States looks a lot more like Ohio than like Colorado.”