APRIL 25, 2008
Dan Balz's take on the Indiana primary got me thinking about a subtle advantage Obama has in the state: Even though it's somewhat similar demographically to two of the states he's lost by large margins--Ohio and Pennsylvania--it's also overwhelmingly Republican. For Obama, the beauty of this is that there probably isn't an especially strong statewide Democratic machine that can swing into action for Hillary. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign tends to excel at organizing virgin territory (territory that borders his home state, no less).
It's true that Hillary has the endorsement of Evan Bayh, the most powerful Democrat in the state. But, as Eve pointed out in this post, and several commenters have observed since then, senators rarely have the machines that governors and mayors have--they spend too much time in Washington to cultivate one, and they don't have the same local patronage jobs to dole out. I'd guess Bayh is even less influential than most senators, machine-wise, since so many of his voters every time out are Republicans. I doubt they take many cues from him.
On an unrelated note, Balz also makes a point along the lines of my post yesterday on that McCain Obama memo: Indiana, he writes, "is neither a carbon copy of Ohio and Pennsylvania--whose demographics and political culture were favorable to Clinton--nor is it Wisconsin, whose demographics were similar to Ohio and Pennsylvania but whose political culture is not [emphasis added]."
I think when a point like this (about Wisconsin) has become so widely accepted it's asserted in passing by a major mainstream journalist, you can't just casually assert the opposite, as McCain campaign manager Rick Davis did. That's not to say something is right just because Dan Balz endorses it. (Far from it.) Just that there's some onus on you to prove it wrong.
Not that I expect that kind of intellectual honesty from a Rick Davis campaign memo...