Looking at the campaign calendar for John McCain over the next couple of weeks, we see the presidential hopeful will be expending a tremendous amount of effort in two states: Texas and California. The party of the winner of these states was determined before the candidates announced their intentions to run. Yet, the reason for this lavish attention is as crystal clear as the water in the fountain at the mall. Even a casual glance finds piles of money at the bottom of it. Yet one has to wonder how much free publicity and how many free votes could be gained by a simple trip to Iowa right now, which is struggling under the worst flooding in its history.
Impossibly, both candidates are sticking to their preordained plans right now and ignoring the voting which could be going on right now in Iowa--first candidate in the water wins. Obama is in a good spot for him, Michigan, where most polls have him trailing slightly. He can get double his effort there, raise money and make a push in the polls. Meanwhile, over the next few weeks, outside of the two states already mentioned, McCain has a trip to Illinois scheduled (more money, no votes), one stop in Minneapolis (slight chance of winning Minnesota), a couple trips to Ohio (finally somewhere he can actually make a difference) and one stop in PA (maybe a battleground, probably not).
A quick look at the polls shows where McCain needs to be once he secures his financing (though, I have to say again, a trip to Iowa right now would be worth many millions). This election will be won or lost in the Midwest, which has become a veritable battleground region. You can make a case that Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota are all up for grabs in 2008. That's 86 electoral votes, none of which are in the RealClearPolitics "leaning" or "solid" to McCain right now.
Assuming that NC and VA are really going to end up where one would expect them--in the Republican corner--McCain is still going to need plenty of Midwest electoral votes, and right now he's not getting any. The most recent poll in each of these states has them going to Obama. While Obama is, it is true, enjoying a bit of a post Hillary withdrawal bump, this still has to be a bit disconcerting for Republicans. Even Indiana, which has voted Republican in the last 10 presidential elections, is not a sure thing if you believe the polls.
So, John, take your trips to Texas and California if you must, but try to keep in mind where this battle is really being fought. Oh yeah, and one of those states might like to see you now, today if possible.