Saturday, November 01, 2008

Is Arizona Obama's Head Fake?

For political junkies, the question of week is why is Obama bothering to advertise in Arizone. Sure the polls show him within striking distance -- in some cases even within the MoE. But they consistently show McCain ahead and the RCP average puts him outside the MoE.

Futhermore, as 538 demostrates, Arizona pretty much can't make a difference in any conceivable scenario. That is to say, it's impossible to imagine Obama surging enough in Arizona to win but losing enough other states that he actually needs the ten electoral votes.

One hypothesis offered by Chris Cillizza is that the Arizona ad buy is a signal to the electorate as a whole that the race is in hand. As an alternative consider this. By going after McCain's home state, Obama could deke his proud opponent into abandoning his game plan and doing something rash. Like, say, cutting way back on GOTV for a last minute ad buy.

Anyone passingly familiar with Obama's biography knows his lifelong love of basketball. You've got to admire his head fake. Just hope he doesn't miss the layup.


Chris Baker said...

I’ve been thinking a lot about these last minute marginal red state moves by the Obama campaign and I think that the pundits have it all wrong.

My bet is that they’re working with a soup up Electoral College tactical model based upon media saturation and pot odds.

Battleground states are being saturated with media buys and volunteers. The more that is invested there the less value it brings. The law of diminishing returns if you will.

Meanwhile in the marginal red states even if there is a small chance of an upset the fact that there have been so few media buys maximizes their effect on viewers. Less money = more return. I could see creating an algorithm that takes into account media saturation, polling numbers, past election returns and media costs to determine if they should invest in a state.

My bet is that the Obama campaign’s mathematical models show that there is a good return on their investment in these states. Far from obsessing with a mythical mandate they are playing to win, they’re just doing it in a more sophisticated way than traditional Electoral College strategies.

Jason Haas said...

One reason, panic, with a multitude of operational outcomes.

1. Where is John McCain finishing his day on Monday? In Prescott, AZ, not Ohio, not Florida, not PA and then flying overnight so he can vote at home in the morning. He's finishing the day at a rally in his home state.

By pushing deeper into the mountain West, Obama made Team McCain panic.

2. He has the money to advertise, he feels comfortable with VA, IA, and PA, so why not make McCain play defense on the final weekend? McCain immediately went up with a robo in AZ, now he's rallying there too.

In essence, Obama's camp used a politician's typical pride against him.

Anonymous said...

I went and voted today, took 137 minutes, not bad. I chatted with "gobbs" of people while waiting(Summit County). However, not one of them was a Republican... not one. What's up with that? Where are all of them?

Ben said...

no doubt the AZ buy was to project an overall confidence so people would write about it. we shall see in a couple short days if that confidence was real or false.

Anonymous said...

Ben's grasp of the obvious is impressive.