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To the left is a table of the number of offices that have, to date, been opened by Obama and McCain across the country, courtesy of 538. If a state is not listed, it is because neither candidate has any offices at all there. Note: while I trust Nate Silver's numbers, I think that some of the base data used for the office counts may be slightly out of date, since I know we opened 22 offices here in Pennsylvania, some very recently. However, even after considering the new offices, the order of magnitude is not altered.
Of note: the only states where McCain has more offices than Obama are Florida (35 - 25), as well as New Jersey, California, West Virginia and Arizona, where McCain has one office each. While it is certainly understandable that Obama would see no need for offices in, say, California, why does McCain feel he needs to invest the money in an Arizona office?
Why do we care? First, most people in America are not like most of the DCW community: they are what is known as "low information" voters. They get their 'best' information from TV ads and flyers delievered to their homes. Therefore, the more presence a campaign has, the better for that campaign.
Second, there is the issue of early voting. There are now 31 states that allow some form of early voting, Ohio having just joined the ranks. And with the exception of Oregon, where all voting is by mail, and has been for some time, boots-on-the-ground certainly helps in getting out the early vote. The more early voters a campaign can turn out, the more effort they can put into the final week GOTV efforts. That is, it's better to have to get 10 people to the polls on election day than 100.
Finally, there is the issue of attitude. We all know that the more energy someone puts into something, the more positive the outcome. As a sports analogy, Michael Phelps wouldn't be as good a swimmer as he is if he didn't put those 5 hours a day in of practice. No matter how high his level of native talent, had he gone to Beijing not having swam a lap in the prior 6 months, he may not be winning all the medals he is accruing.
So, take Missouri, a true toss-up state this year. McCain has fewer than 10 offices there, Obama has close to 30. So what does the McCain campaign say about the disparity?
“When you feel like you have to put that many people in the state to cover it, means you think you’re in trouble, and you have to have a surge,” said Jack Jackson, McCain’s Missouri co-chairman.