President Barack Obama's campaign strategy for 2012 will seek to consolidate 2008 victories while adapting to an altered economic landscape, Politico reported today.
Obama's resounding 2008 victory saw him capture not only the perennial battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida but also states like Virginia, North Carolina and New Mexico that had formerly eluded Democrats. Those gains were in part due to an ambitious national strategy that poured more people and resources into states that previous Democratic candidates had not seen as competitive.
In the 2012 rendition, Obama's team will be carefully watching economic trends in beleaguered blue states and shifting demographics in traditional bastions of Republican support like Georgia and Arizona. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina indicated to Politico that they would be taking a cautious state by state approach that allowed them to adapt to political realities.
Fundraising muscle will play a role, particularly if Obama approaches his stated goal of raising $1 billion for the campaign. The campaign will also seek to build on inroads it made last year in the South, where an influx moderates and minority voters is upending assumptions about the GOP's grip on power. The Obama team hopes that disillusionment with harsh Republican immigration enforcement measures will generate Democratic support in the Southwest's burgeoning Latino population.
But the economy could play a larger role than demographics, a truth reflected by Obama's deflating poll numbers in the face of stubborn unemployment. That could push swing states, particularly in the hard-hit northern Midwest, to Republicans. The rebuke voters dealt Democrats in the 2010 election, when moderate Blue Dog democrats surrendered the posts they had won in 2008 and 20 statehouses flipped to Republicans, could also be an indicator.
I would almost hate to be in their shoes, the economy is going into the tank and they have to look for votes wherever they can get them, Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley told Politico. They are hoping - hoping! - that the unemployment rate will be at 8 percent during the election. Good luck with trying to defend that record in these swing states.
Politico also notes that Obama's team is beginning to reconstruct a political machine that relies on the enthusiasm of grassroots organizers, many of them young college students or recent graduates.