In 2008, Democrats used an all-in electoral strategy to defeat John McCain and win the presidency for Barack Obama. In 2012, they apparently have scaled back their expectations. Instead of a 50-state strategy — or as President Obama might put it, a 57-state strategy — Obama’s change has his campaign focusing on swing states, plus or minus a few surprises:
Democrats evaluating the 2012 map are confident President Barack Obama can win enough battleground states to earn a second term, but via a far less aggressive path than what he forged in 2008.
Party strategists, Obama aides and top Democrats see multiple routes for the president to reach the 270 Electoral College votes that he needs on Nov. 6, 2012. But some Democrats splash cold water on the big talk of outreach in all 50 states, saying it is obvious the president will focus on traditional swing territory.
That’s a far cry from their 2008 strategy, as Roll Call reports:
In 2008, then-campaign manager David Plouffe often would boast about playing offense and seeing potential on a map that at one point even included Alaska, North Dakota and Georgia.
A Democratic official familiar with the still-forming re-election campaign told Roll Call that the focus will be on holding the 2008 pickups of Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina, winning over Latino voters in the West and flooding the traditional swing states of Ohio and Florida with resources. The Democrats feel good about winning New Mexico and Nevada, especially given the population growth among Hispanics.
The difference? In 2008, the campaign had no problem raising in money. In 2012 … not so much. And in 2008, Obama didn’t have a track record to defend, nor an energized conservative grassroots movement like the Tea Party. He will find it more difficult to keep the gains he made in places like Ohio and Florida — and if the midterm elections are any indication, more difficulties in holding traditionally Democratic states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Roll Call also says that the campaign will focus on opportunities among Hispanic voters, and that’s not unexpected. However, the Democrats usually win that demographic anyway. Obama’s electoral problem will be among working class white voters, the kind that backed Hillary Clinton in 2008 and who have increasingly become disaffected with the radical agenda and profligate spending from the Obama administration. Those are the voters who may swing Pennsylvania and Wisconsin into the GOP’s column in 2012.
No matter how the Obama campaign and Democrats spin this, though, it’s a retreat from 2008 and a recognition that Hope and Change has failed to deliver … and that is change everyone now believes in, including the Obama campaign.