Obama — playing by new rules?

I blogged after the West Virginia primary about the possibility that the presidential election might diverge from the convential wisdom about having to carry certain key “battleground states.” That Obama could win without the Appalacians, and possibly without Florida and Ohio.

Turns out that this was Obama’s thinking all along. With remarkable prescience, Obama reportedly said last August that, “I’m probably the only candidate who, having won the nomination, can actually redraw the political map.”

Last week Obama bought advertising in 18 states. Only 3 were from the 19 states that Democrats have won in each of the last four elections (Michigan, Pennsylvania & Wisconsin). Most of the rest are “purple” states, regarded as in contention. But Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Montana and North Dakota are “red” states that would not have been on anybody’s list as being in contention a year ago.

The Obama campaign is also putting people on the ground in these and other states that look long shots, including Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. Georgia is a special case, the home of third-party candidate and former Congressman Bob Barr.

Obama’s plan is aggressive and risky. He has opted out of the public campaign-financing system and clearly hopes to out-spend McCain big-time. By widening the field of battle he forces McCain to concentrate resources on states that otherwise he would have taken for granted.

It ain’t 48% stuff. As one Republican media consultant, put it, “This is not three yards and a cloud of dust. This is an aggressive leap across the 50-yard line to play on Republican turf.”

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