Obama campaign showed up, and saw results

When my mother told me that Obama had opened a field office a few months ago in the southwest corner of Michigan where I grew up, I was in disbelief.

"In downtown St. Joseph?" I asked, and she assured me, she had not misspoken.

"Michigan's Great Southwest," as it is called in tourist pamphlets, is solidly Republican. The sixth congressional district encompasses much of the area, and has been represented for 20 years by Republican Fred Upton.

Granted, McCain dropped out of the state, but as Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post predicted last May, Michigan's conservative southwest held the potential to swing the state from blue to red:

Polling shows the race between McCain and Obama in the Wolverine State as competitive, yet there is no swing state where Republicans feel more confident about their chances. While GOP strategists grant that Obama will run extremely strong in Detroit and the surrounding areas, Republicans believe that in the Upper Peninsula (U-P in Michigander-speak) and in southwestern Michigan -- both more culturally conservative areas -- McCain will dominate.

And yet that office led to my mother knocking on doors, my sister making phone calls, both of them proudly displaying yard signs. When the votes were tallied last night, Obama won Michigan's three southwestern counties by about the same margins as his national totals (Berrien: 52% to 46.5; Van Buren: 53.5 to 44.7; Cass: 51.2 to 47.1), via the New York Times.

Of course, other factors are in play for this area of the country -- I've already noted that McCain ceded the state after the financial crisis. Waves of Illinois volunteers could have flooded the area (it is also only about 2 hours outside of Chicago), and the state's 98% registration level probably helped.

Nonetheless, the Obama campaign showed up -- just like they did across the country. I'm sure this is not the only example where this small, but significant, act paid dividends.


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