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The Obama Strategy Emphasizes Down-ballot Races

We know quite a bit about the Obama campaign’s intention to “stretch” the map and compete in “red” states that a) Dems would be expected to

We know quite a bit about the Obama campaign’s intention to “stretch” the map and compete in “red” states that a) Dems would be expected to skip; and b) the McCain campaign doesn’t want to have to fight for.

But Ben Smith went a little deeper and considers what this might mean for Dems further down on the ballot.

Barack Obama will focus his resources largely in 14 states George W. Bush won in 2004, his chief field operative said Tuesday, hoping to score upsets in places like Virginia, Indiana, and Georgia.

But winning the White House won’t be his only goal, deputy campaign manager Hildebrand told Politico: In an unusual move, Obama’s campaign will also devote some resources to states it’s unlikely to win, with the goal of influencing specific local contests in places like Texas and Wyoming.

“Texas is a great example where we might not be able to win the state, but we want to pay a lot of attention to it,” Hildebrand said. “It’s one of the most important redistricting opportunities in the country.”

That’s a good point. You may recall Tom DeLay’s painful re-redistricting scheme, the result of which was five new Republican seats in the U.S. House. After the 2010 census, it’ll be time to draw those lines again, and if the Obama campaign can help strengthen the party at the state level, the efforts will pay dividends in the long run.

It’s not just Texas. Ben also noted a competitive House race in Wyoming, where Gary Trauner is running for the state’s lone U.S. House seat. He was narrowly defeated two years ago, but hopes the rematch will turn out better.

Is Obama going to win Wyoming? Almost certainly not, but when he invests campaign resources in the state anyway, he not only raises eyebrows at McCain HQ, he also gives candidates like Trauner a better shot at victory.

“If we can register more Democrats, if we can increase the Democratic performance and turnout, maybe we can pick up a congressional seat,” Hildebrand said.

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