Expanding the playing field

The Obama campaign is going after Indiana.

Indiana last went Democratic in a Presidential election when LBJ beat Barry Goldwater. Before that, it was FDR against Alf Landon.

Barack Obama has assigned a key staffer (Emily Parcell, who ran Iowa for him) to run his Indiana campaign, and is already up with TV spots. Apparently no one in the state can remember a Democratic Presidential candidate buying Indiana TV time.

Maybe this means that the Obama folks really think they can take the state, which after all does share a border with Illinois. Or maybe it’s just a head-fake. Or maybe &#8212 this seems most likely to me &#8212 they don’t really think it will go for Obama except in a landslide year, but figure that if they can make McCain spend time and money holding on to Indiana they can make it that much harder for him to hold on to, for example, Virginia.

Those who are disappointed that Obama decided to fund the general-election campaign with his own donors rather than with public funds ought to consider the purely good-government, democratic arguments for running a truly national Presidential campaign. That’s not something you can actually do for $85 million.

Of course, Obama can’t really compete in Indiana without, for example, going after the evangelical vote. That will annoy some of his supporters, and some progressive Democrats for whom his comfort with the language of the pulpit seems inconsistent with his strong stances on reproductive freedom, equal treatment for gays, and religious freedom. But if he’s going to compete nationally, he can’t run a campaign consisting entirely of red meat for the Blue states. I think the phrase is “President of all the people.” That didn’t used to be a joke.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com