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September 9, 2004
Kerry Shrinks The Map

John Kerry's campaign has shrunk the electoral map despite promising for months to come out of the conventions fighting in every area of the country. Their new ad strategy only includes 14 states, possibly adding in another seven next month, according to the AP's political reporters Ron Fournier and Liz Sidoti:

After months of pledging to contest President Bush in every region of the country, Sen. John Kerry and Democrats are limiting television advertising to 14 battleground states as the fall campaign opens.

The shift bumps GOP-leaning Missouri, Colorado, Arizona and several Southern states off the political playing field at least for now and gives Bush reason to consider moving money from some of those states to others that historically trend Democratic.

Of course, Kerry's allies in 527s may choose to run ads in the other states, but it's revealing that the campaign has given up on more than half of the country. Either they feel so confident in their position that they don't need to spend money (California and New York, perhaps?) or they consider the cause to be lost and don't want to throw good money after bad.

They have completely abandoned the South, a striking decision considering that Kerry selected John Edwards as his running mate in part to challenge Bush's Southern strength. The only locked-in advertising commitment in the South is in West Virginia, whose union contingent puts it into play, although Bush continues to run strong there, as well as Florida, which is culturally separate from the traditional South. The Democrats have reserved ad time for October in Louisiana and Arkansas, two of the more flexible Southern states, and in Edwards' home state of North Carolina. However, they haven't actually spent the money, so they are not obligated to actually purchase the ads yet.

Why has the Kerry campaign suddenly decided to shrink the field? They have discovered that the Kerry erosion last month has endangered their grip on states that went Gore in 2000 that they cannot afford to lose in 2004. Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes are leaning Bush again, and Wisconsin (10 EV) looks even worse. They hoped to pick up Ohio, but Bush has resurged in the Buckeye state. They may make pickups in New Hampshire and Nevada, where Bush trails by thin margins, but Bush would gladly trade off the eight electoral votes in those states to pick up the 31 in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Democrats can talk about strategy and focused attacks, but they set the expectations themselves, claiming to refuse to cede any area of the country to Republicans. Like so many other issues in this campaign, John Kerry manages to be on both sides of his own strategy simultaneously.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 9, 2004 5:47 AM

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