From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** Obama's wider map: About two months ago, we unveiled our early look at the electoral map. And this being the second official day of the general election, now's as good a time as any to see where we stand in the McCain vs. Obama race.
Base Obama: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, MD, MA, NY, RI, VT (153 electoral votes)
Lean Obama: ME, NJ, MN, OR, WA (47 votes)
Toss-up: CO, FL, IA, MI, NV, NM, NH, OH, PA, VA, WI (138 votes)
Lean McCain: AR, GA, IN, LA, MS, MO, MT, NE, NC, ND (84 votes)
Base McCain: AL, AK, AZ, ID, KS, KY, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY (116 votes)
While both McCain and Obama get to 200 when adding up their base and lean states, it's clear to see that Obama has an early edge with the map. Not only does he have a stronger base than McCain does (153 votes vs. 116), but he also has more potential pick-up opportunities. When you add toss-up and "Lean McCain," Obama has the potential for another 222 votes outside his favored states. By comparison, McCain's toss-up and "Lean Obama" comes to 185. Of course, potential sometimes means just that -- potential. At the end of the day, Obama will likely win few, if any, of those Lean McCain states. But his reach right now seems much longer than McCain's.
*** A victory bump? Not surprisingly, Obama is getting unbelievable press coverage today. Just how big will the bump be, and when do we know when we see it? Probably the next two weeks. What to watch for in the polls: Obama's support among rank-and-file Democrats and women.
*** Polling Hillary for veep: Speaking of polls… Now that Clinton has set a date for her exit from the campaign, one thing Team Obama ought to be careful of is polling her for veep. Why? She's the most well known potential veep candidate, and so she's always going to look like she's a help to Obama. But that's due in large part to name recognition. The eventual running mate gets known quickly, and how the person is rolled out matters. Look at how Lieberman and Cheney -- both of whom were not well known nationally in 2000 -- were able to become instant assets because of how they were rolled out biographically. Neither one, however, would have popped in the polls in the beginning of the process.
*** The town hall challenge: Besides Clinton's exit and the announcement by the Obama campaign that it had tapped three Democrats (Caroline Kennedy, Jim Johnson, and Eric Holder) to lead Obama's veep selection committee, the biggest news yesterday was McCain's proposal to Obama to hold joint town halls. The Obama camp signaled that it was open to that idea, although it prefers more of a Lincoln-Douglas format. Who is helped by joint town halls? Both campaigns think they are. But who is helped MORE? If the debates in the fall become LESS consequential or unique, then the person helped the most could be the new guy. Obama, more so than McCain, probably benefits the more he stands next to McCain -- just by standing with him, he looks more presidential. Then again, though, it's a risk if McCain exposes any inexperience. It's worth noting that neither McCain nor Obama was seen as a great debater in the primary season.
*** Virginia is for winners: Obama highlights that wider map we talked about above when he campaigns today in Virginia -- first in the Southwest part of the state (the Appalachian region that proved problematic for him during the primaries), and later in Northern Virginia (the suburban and exurban region of DC, the type of area in which he excelled). Senate candidate Mark Warner, who enjoyed plenty of success in the rural parts of the state as Virginia governor, will stump with Obama at his first stop, and Sen. Jim Webb and Gov. Tim Kaine -- both potential veep choices -- will join Obama at the rally in Northern Virginia.
*** Just asking: Could yesterday's Rezko verdict have come on a better day for Obama -- the day after he clinches the nomination and Clinton finally sets her exit date? That said, the Republican National Committee was quick to seize on the news, producing a new Web site called RezkoJudgment.com.
*** On the trail: McCain is in Florida, where he raises money and speaks to the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and Florida Press Association Convention Lake Buena Vista, and then he hits another fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale. Obama, meanwhile, is in Virginia, campaigning in Bristol (the Southwest part of the state) in the late morning and Bristow (Northern Virginia) in the early evening.
Countdown to Dem convention: 81 days
Countdown to GOP convention: 88 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 152 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 229 days
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