Election 2008

McCain pulls out of Michigan
John Raoux/AP

McCain’s Abandonment of Michigan Changes the Game

October 03, 2008 04:09 PM
by Josh Katz
McCain’s decision to leave Michigan, ceding the state to Obama, leaves him with less room to maneuver as the election draws nearer. But was it a necessary choice?

McCain Leaves Michigan Behind

Michigan’s 17 electoral votes will now be Ill. Sen. Barack Obama’s for the taking, as Ariz. Sen. John McCain plans to pull his TV ads in the state and stop sending campaign mail to Michigan residents. McCain staffers there will be relocated to states where the race is closer, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, Politico reports. According to a McCain aid, “It was always a long shot for us to win.”

Sen. McCain’s strategists called Michigan “the worst state of all the states that are in play” for the candidate, according to the Detroit Free Press. Although Democrats have held onto Michigan in the last four presidential elections, the Republicans and McCain had invested millions of dollars into the state.

Some Republicans had seen Michigan as an opportunity for McCain, because the senator did well in the state during the 2000 primaries and because the voters have expressed disappointment with Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, among other reasons, according to Politico.
Much of Sen. Obama’s success in the state can be traced to the country’s economic problems, as Michigan has been hit particularly hard with a Republican administration in the White House.

McCain’s decision came after a number of polls gave Obama the clear advantage. For example, both a Detroit News-WXYZ Action News poll and a Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday indicated that Obama held a 10-point lead in Michigan, The Detroit News reports. A Gallup poll only gave Obama a 5-point edge, however, while a Rasmussen Daily poll gave the Illinois senator a comfortable 51-44 lead, the Boston Herald states.

Opinion & Analysis: What the Michigan pullout means

With Michigan seemingly in Obama’s pocket, polls suggest that the Illinois senator is ahead of McCain 260-163 electoral votes, with 115 remaining toss-ups, according to the Real Clear Politics map.

There are still razor-thin margins in a number of swing states, the Dallas Morning News reports, including Nevada, New Hampshire, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Indiana and Ohio. “Bottom line,” Joel Thornton writes: Obama has a lot of hard work ahead of him. And if he pulls it off, it won’t be by much.”

But the McCain campaign is now counting on the fact that McCain will hold onto the solidly red states, and grab six traditionally Republican toss-ups, consisting of Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana and Ohio, according to Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post. With those 260 electoral votes, McCain would then need to extract 10 more electoral votes from a combination of Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Cillizza, however, questions McCain’s ability to secure the six toss-ups.

Cillizza also claims that McCain’s downfall in Michigan reveals that the “damage done to McCain at the national level by the bailout of Wall Street is being mirrored in the states too.” He also argues that the pullout demonstrates the shortfalls in McCain’s strategy to use public funding. But what could be most damaging for McCain is if the media paints the Michigan move as a sign of McCain’s collapsing campaign, he states.

“It’s a terrible sign,” said analyst Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report, quoted in The Detroit News. “He has fewer states to offset any losses (of 2004 Bush states).”

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