Just got off of the Obama campaign conference call with David Plouffe that I mentioned earlier.
The overriding theme was that the campaign will keep its focus on how they can reach 270 electoral votes. The first objective will be to hold John Kerry's 252 votes. Plouffe said the campaign was well on its way to doing that because it enjoys "unusually large leads" even in states such as Oregon, Minnesota and Maine, which were among the closer Kerry states in 2004. "There's not that many Kerry states where McCain can make a credible claim," a confident Plouffe said.
Once they hold on to the Kerry states, he said the campaign has a good opportunity to go "on offense" in Bush states. They hope to compete aggressively in enough of them to give Obama as many chances as possible to reach the 270 threshold. "We see a pathway to get to a winning number," he said.
For instance, if they maintain the Kerry states and win Iowa, where Obama spent a lot of time in the build up to the caucuses, they'd be at 259 electoral votes — just 11 shy of the target number. In this case, a win in Missouri would get Obama to 270.
Plouffe also mentioned New Hampshire, Colorado, Alaska, New Mexico, and Nevada. He said they consider Indiana "highly competitive" and also sees an opportunity in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. In the southern states, the hope is that higher turnout among blacks and young voters, along with an appeal to independents, could lead to Obama victories. They will work hard to register more black voters. Plouffe insisted that the ads that they're running in 18 states aren't head fakes designed to drain McCain's resources.
He said that in Florida, Obama and McCain are tied, but that is a good place to be in since Obama didn't campaign there during the primary.
He also noted that Nebraska is allocating electors by Congressional district, and so there may be an opportunity for Obama to pick off a vote in the Omaha district.
All in all, he sees "lots of opportunities to get 270."
Plouffe also emphasized the "enthusiasm gap" Republicans are facing, and the organizational advantage the Obama campaign has over the McCain campaign.
One thing that particularly struck me was that as far as I could recall, there wasn't any mention of Iraq or the War on Terror (though there's a chance I may have been distracted by my writing at the moment it was mentioned). Either way, it was pretty clear from this call that the Obama campaign won't be placing its focus on removing troops from Iraq, but rather on the economy and vague promises to "change the way Washington works." Plouffe kept coming back to the economy, no matter what the subject. Even when asked to explain Obama's flip flop on guns and the salience of the gun issue, he eventually circled back to explaining that the economy was of most concern to voters. It's 1992 all over again.