The news that John McCain's campaign is abandoning its efforts in Michigan -- first reported by Jonathan Martin at Politico -- is the latest in a series of negative developments for the Republican ticket over the last two weeks.
The GOP had seen Michigan as a possible state to steal.
Although Democrats have dominated in both presidential and other statewide contests in the Wolverine State over the last few cycles (the Democratic nominee
for president has carried Michigan in each of the last four elections), Republicans believed that McCain was the candidate to change that.
The differences in how their campaigns are financed allow Barack to spend more recklessly than McCain.
What that means in practical terms is that Obama can pump money into a wider palette of iffy states and hope for results. While Obama has pulled back in places like Georgia and Alaska, his decision to continue to plunge huge amounts of money into Florida has, of late, begun to pay dividends as polls have shown him climbing into a lead in the Sunshine State.McCain can't allow this to create a perception that his campaign is unravelling.
Third, and this is the most potentially dangerous for McCain, the decision to pull out of Michigan may be painted by the media as a sign the entire campaign is going south. "In the 24 hour nonstop news world we live in, the act of pulling out will actually be harmful to his candidacy not only in Michigan but elsewhere," predicted one well-connected Republican operative familiar with the politics of the Wolverine State.
The McCain campaign held a conference call with political director Mike DuHaime and senior adviser Greg Strimple to argue that the Arizona Senator retains a viable path to 270 electoral votes.
Their map: Win six toss up states -- Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana and Ohio -- that have traditionally favored Republicans and hold the solidly GOP states to get to 260 electoral votes. Then find 10 more electoral votes in some combination of Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
The pullout from Michigan reflects just how quickly the focus shifted to McCain's biggest area of vulnerability - a struggling economy - and with that shift, a reminder to voters just how much they want to be done with the GOP.