For the last few years I've been talking up the Interstate 29 corridor in political circles. You know, the interstate highway that runs from Kansas City northward along the Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska. South Dakota, Minnesota, and North Dakota borders all the way to glorious Canada. If there ever was a region ripe to turn from red to blue, this is it. We've already picked up congressional seats in the corridor- both the seats in Kansas, one of two seats in Missouri, and the at large seats in both Dakotas. We've also picked up a few governorships including that of reputedly red Kansas, and we've pretty much split the senate seats with the republicons. But that's just the beginning of what's possible as we turn the Red River valley blue and the Missouri too.
It's been less than a week since I dropped by the perky shopping mall Obama campaign office in Jamestown, North Dakota. All seemed well, with the campaign scheduled to doorknock 'til you drop 'til election day. Then I checked the North Dakota event schedule yesterday and found it almost barren. My worst fears were confirmed this morning- all Obama campaign offices were reported to be closing with the staffers shipped off to Minnesota and Wisconsin.
These had been heady times in North Dakota politics, for once a presidential campaign had noted their all dem congressional delegation, state mill and bank, and pervasive co-op membership and figured out that ND might just vote democratic at the top of the ticket too. Not to mention the cheap media markets and three electoral votes in a state with only about 300,000 voters... Minnesota next door has 10 times as many voters and only gets 10 electoral votes.
But Nooooo! Apparently the Obama campaign cannot see the synergies of an I-29 corridor campaign... Seven states with a half dozen or so media markets, all but one (Kansas City) dirt cheap. Three of those states, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota are seriously in play, North Dakota is a second tier state, and South Dakota and Nebraska's eastern congressional district are potentially in play too. From the point of view of a combined campaign, there's at least one race in every state in the I-29 corridor that is a potential democratic pickup. a clever campaign would set up campaign offices in the Kansas City, Council Bluffs/Omaha, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Brookings, Watertown, Fargo/Moorhead, and Grand Forks metro areas. Depending how the race is going, the campaign could easily pivot between at least two states from each of those locations- For example, staffers in the Fargo/Moorhead office would merely switch their campaigning from Fargo to Moorhead if Obama's campaign was really floundering in North Dakota and in need of rescue in Minnesota.
But that'd be too simple... I have no doubt that as I write, tired Obama staffers in Fargo are packing up and being reassigned to the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area, 250 miles away. Yet not even a mile from the Obama campaign office in Fargo they could be put to work in Moorhead. Heck, I'm barely an hour from the North Dakota border in Starbuck and the campaign is desperate for help here.
I guess the wisdom of an I-29 corridor strategy and similar regional campaign strategies hasn't yet dawned on the geographicly impaired Obama campaign. Hopefully they'll pull this one out and win despite their mistakes...