The 50-state strategy revisited: Was it the key to Obama’s victory in 2008?

Barack Obama and family on November 4, 2008 after winning the election.

A few weeks back, in looking at a recent study by SmartPolitics that showed a gradual hardening of statewide preferences in recent presidential election history, I noted that this could be viewed through the lens of recent discussion about resurrecting the 50-state strategy (one of the most identifiable features of Howard Dean’s tenure as head of the Democratic National Committee).
A piece of evidence that seemed to call for a renaissance for the 50-state strategy came from a 2013 retrospective by Louis Jacobson at Governing, which made the connection that the implementation of that strategy between 2005-09 also coincided with the best electoral years of recent vintage for the Democrats, particularly in states where they had not (in recent history, at least) been terribly strong.

With a presidential election on the horizon that is likely to be highly competitive, this week we dig a little deeper into the presidential

of the “50-state strategy success” thesis. Did the broader focus on states laid out by Dean as DNC chairman pay off tangible dividends in the one presidential election (2008) where it was in effect?

Follow me below for a look at the numbers, which as you will read, defy an easy explanation for whether such a strategy helped Barack Obama in 2008, or whether it will help the Democratic nominee in 2016.

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