Political Losers

By abandoning the states it can't win, the campaign hopes to boost its chances in those it can.

Ever wonder what you do if you're charged with campaigning for a presidential candidate in a state you know you can't win? Easy. You go to one where you can.

Knox County, Tennessee, describes itself as the most Republican county in one of the most Republican states in the US. (Apparently it's never forgiven the local Democratic party for not letting it cede to the north during the Civil War.) Downtown Knoxville is festooned with Obama-Biden signs - but the land beyond is as red as it comes. Obama could win the popular vote by a dozen points without winning Tennessee.

But the state still hosts plenty of Obama campaign offices. And while they're quieter than those in the swing states, that's still a lot of manpower.

So last Friday, Gloria Johnson, the school teacher running the Obama office in downtown Knoxville, shipped a bus full of volunteers to North Carolina for the weekend. On election day itself, her team will be phoning the state's voters, to free up its own volunteers to go door to door.

"The best ground operation in the world can only shift four points," says Johnson. "I expect the result here to be better than people think it'll be. But we're still 10 points behind."

Elsewhere in the state, volunteers will be deployed to Missouri and Indiana. By abandoning the states it can't win, the campaign hopes to boost its chances in those it can.