Locals have been complaining that President Obama's visit to the Seattle area this week was just to raise money, not to press the flesh with ordinary mortals. It's not that he doesn't love us, folks. It's that the state is not in doubt when it comes to the vote in 2012. It's gone for the Democratic presidential candidate in the last five elections.
Gerald F. Seib of the Wall Street Journal has a good analysis ($) of how blue and red states line up. One thing that emerges from his look at past voting patterns is that Obama starts with a big lead, since blue states have more electoral votes than red ones. If you take the 18 states plus D.C. that have voted Democratic in all presidential elections since 1992, that adds up to 242 of the 270 votes needed to win. That means Obama will likely concentrate on five light-blue states (voting Democratic 3-2 in past five elections) of Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, and Ohio. Florida, the biggest swing state, might be another target. Colorado, normally Republican but carried by Obama in 2008, could be an important insurance state, in case Ohio is lost.
As for the Republicans, with only 13 states and 102 electoral votes in the category of 5-0 red in past elections, they have a much tougher hill to climb. Their target states are likely to be Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
The blue bloc consists of all three West Coast states (plus Hawaii), the northern Midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan, and the northeast states of New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. The solid red states are the interior West of Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, plus three from the South: South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi. And Alaska.
Being as reliably blue as Washington means being taken for granted. It also means fewer high-level appointments as rewards for delivering the state. So far, there's been no shortage of support for military bases, though they go way back into history and a day of reckoning could come if the Super Committee fails to pass a program and deep Defense cuts are ordered up.
On that score, our real day of reckoning will come shortly after the 2012 election. December will be a critical month, since that's when a lame-duck Congress will have to deal with the possible expiration of the Bush tax cuts and whether to go along with the deep military cuts that "sequestration" would have ordered but delayed enacting until January 2013. Also on the table will be some of the phasing in of Obama's medical insurance reforms.
With all those momentous decisions on the table, it's likely that both parties will put off hard decisions until there have been voter verdicts on the president and Congress. Washington might matter in the House results, but probably not in the White House.