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Battleground issues: Wal-Mart politics

ENERGY: USA Today finds that while both candidates have energy proposals that are favored by the public, Obama's proposals score a little bit higher than McCain's.

VIDEO: Last month, John McCain made a big-time reversal in announcing his support for off-shore oil drilling and since then energy executives and employees donated $1.1 million to his campaign. Guest host Mike Barnicle discusses in the Hardball Big Number.

"John McCain has found at least one issue where he enjoys something of an advantage over Barack Obama: offshore drilling for oil," the Detroit Free Press adds. "With gas prices way up this summer, polls in battleground states, including Michigan, have consistently found strong support for offshore drilling."

IRAQ: Guess what? The two are starting to agree on this one -- sort of. "But even as the two presumptive presidential nominees continue to squabble about the past, their debate over the future of U.S. troops in Iraq seems to have entered a broad new middle ground, in which the question is not whether to withdraw but rather the speed and circumstances of departure. In recent days, McCain has said he could support withdrawal over 16 months -- the timetable proposed by Obama -- provided 'conditions' were right. Obama has said that he would 'adapt' his withdrawal timeline should 'things drastically worsen as we're drawing down.' Both advocate leaving a residual U.S. force in Iraq, although neither has specified the size of such a force or where it would be based."

UNIONS: Wow, the Wal-Mart story in the Wall Street Journal today is going to get the unions all fired up. Wow... this should be one LONG press release day for those who have labor union press shops regularly sending them releases. "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies -- including Wal-Mart."

"In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized. According to about a dozen Wal-Mart employees who attended such meetings in seven states, Wal-Mart executives claim that employees at unionized stores would have to pay hefty union dues while getting nothing in return, and may have to go on strike without compensation. Also, unionization could mean fewer jobs as labor costs rise."

How much of a battleground state IS Minnesota? The TV buy numbers suggest it might not be as contentious a swing state as some would have you believe. "While more than $50 million -- a record -- has been spent on presidential campaign ads nationwide during the past two months, John McCain and Barack Obama have spent just $645,000, combined, in Minnesota, according to the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project… That's the least, by far, spent by the campaigns in 14 battleground states, according to the project, which tracks political advertising."