Election 2012 | Need for money means less time in battleground states
The rest of America – states that are neither wealthy nor battlegrounds – increasingly has become flyover territory.
Only in recent elections has the list of campaign stops become so limited. Two trends have combined to greatly constrict it: increased political polarization, which has sorted states into blue and red, and a greatly stepped-up battle for money.
In 1976, 59 percent of the U.S. population lived in battleground states – those won by less than a 5-percentage-point margin – according to data compiled by Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz. By 2008, only 20 percent of the population lived in a battleground state. The figure could drop even more this year.
On the flip side, almost half of voters in 2008 lived in states that either Obama or his Republican foe John McCain won by a landslide margin of 15 points or more.
Then there’s the money race. In 2008, Obama abandoned the system of partial public financing of presidential campaigns. This time Republicans have followed suit, so both candidates must raise huge sums. Unlike the last election, in which Obama greatly outspent McCain, Republicans this time will at least equal – and probably outspend – Obama.
The resulting contrast in campaigns is particularly striking for Obama. In 2008, he spent hours on stages with his sleeves rolled up, taking questions at televised town hall meetings. This year, at least for now, those town halls have morphed into private question-and-answer sessions behind closed doors, over finger sandwiches and catered cuisine.
Last week, the president spent much of a two-day trip with the political elite of San Francisco and Los Angeles. He took questions at high-dollar events, measuring the temperature of actors and Hollywood executives in the cozy courtyard of the home of Ryan Murphy, the creator of “Glee.” The next morning, he stopped in at the hilltop home of Charles Quarles, a real estate developer, where 300 people paid at least $2,500 to eat omelets in the presence of the president.
Before leaving Beverly Hills, Obama met privately with a small group of the young, famous and rich of
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