Alex Massie

The Ground Game: The View From Ohio

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In 2004, George W Bush "won" the Ground Game. This time? Well, every indication is that Barack Obama has built a vastly more formidable organisation than John McCain. To help give readers a sense of what's happening out there in the field, I'm delighted to say that super-smart Democratic operative "Josh Lyman" is going to be filing occasional reports from the great state of Ohio. Here's his first dispatch:

"I got placed in Bowling Green, right by Bowling Green State University.  To say that this area is a hotbed of activism, ground tactics, tension, and the trenches of the cultural war would be a stretch.  The county is a swing county, but that is mostly because there are 50,000 rural families and 25,000 Bowling Green residents combined with 25,000 Bowling Green students. Unlike in 2004, the voting apparatus is controlled by Democrats.  So there won't be instances of there being two voting machines on campus but nine in an Amish community on the outskirts of town, like there was four years ago.

My sense is that Obama is well on his way for a nice sized win here in Ohio. No candidate has carried Ohio without carrying Wood County (BG is the county seat).  One would think that this historical oddity would almost mandate a heavy McCain presence, but alas there is none to speak of. 

I spent a little bit of time at the Obama state HQ in Columbus yesterday.  It was jaw dropping.  They had taken over an old mega-church.  The first floor was a warren of staffers running around all very young and all very busy. The basement was probably the size of a supermarket, lined with table after table.  Each table was staffed by four youngsters, all responsible for a different city, county, task etc.  It looked like the command center for a massive army.  No windows, no natural light, but filled with kids who probably had no idea it was 8am all hovering over computers, maps, data sheets.  There were 600 staffers there, all dedicated to Ohio, at 8am.  I'm amazed."

By way of background, Wood County is in north-western Ohio, near the Michigan state-line. It is a little bit richer than the US average. And a lot whiter. Fully 94% of its residents are white. Thirteen of the county's 15 elected officials are Republican. In 2004 Bush beat Kerry in Wood County 53-46%.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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