As we discuss in our chapter on elections and campaigns, the electoral college focuses presidential candidates on certain key states. An earlier post noted that President Obama's disapproval rating exceeds his approval rating in eight states that he carried in 2008. One of those states is Indiana. Will its 11 electoral votes be in play next year? The Indianapolis Star reports:
Indiana a battleground? Face it. Before Obama won Indiana, Hoosiers had backed only three Democrats for president since 1900: Woodrow Wilson in 1912, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936, and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
"I'd be astonished if (Obama) was able to catch lightning in a bottle two times in a row," said Robert Dion, a political science professor at the University of Evansville.
[GOP consultant Jennifer] Hallowell "absolutely" thinks that if McCain had paid more attention to Indiana he could have secured the 28,000 votes needed to win the state. McCain, after all, made only three campaign stops in Indiana in 2008, including one desperation fly-in the day before the election. Obama made 49.
Dion, the Evansville professor, agrees the GOP can't just assume it has Indiana locked down.
"I don't think Indiana is going to swing headlong into the Republican embrace. It's not going to be as solidly Republican as it was for decades on end. They will have to compete for it," he said. "But the odds are very good that it's going to be a Republican pickup. And at a certain point, the Obama campaign is either going to have to go all in or cut bait, and my guess is they'll focus on those states that are more within reach."