Is the Obama Campaign Cocky?

The latest Buzzfeed story is a look inside of the Obama campaign headquarters, and their preparations for the general election. Their big scoop? Despite the insistence of top staffers like Jim Messina and David Axelrod, the campaign is cocky about their eventual face-off with Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. Here’s Buzzfeed:

Some of Obama’s old Chicago allies however, say they worry that the campaign is getting a little too cocky. Months of blockbuster economic data were interrupted by a March jobs report that missed expectations. Obama allies fear that the president’s team will get caught flatfooted on the economy if growth slows down between now and Election Day.

And to say that the campaign doesn’t fear Romney is an understatement — he’s viewed as almost a joke. (The campaign named their sixth floor elevators for cars to mock Romney’s planned over-the-top addition to his La Jolla, CA home.)

I have no doubt that the Obama campaign is confident about its chances in November, but I think it’s a stretch to call that “cocky,” especially when your only evidence is a joke and the private concerns of a few. Indeed, the actual behavior of the Obama campaign seems to point in the direction of caution. Take a look at this map of Obama field offices, provided by the campaign and highlighted by Buzzfeed:

There are offices in each state, but the highest concentration are in swing states—Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, etc.—and states which could swing, under the right conditions: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New Hampshire. I’m not sure that a “cocky” campaign would pour time and money into defending states that Democrats usually win. The same goes for rhetoric; the fact that President Obama directly attacked Mitt Romney in last week’s speech to the American Society of News Editors is a sign that the campaign wants to get an early start on defining Romney and tying him to the right wing of the Republican Party.

The Obama campaign is staffed by intelligent people, and while there’s always the possibility for groupthink and collective delusion, my guess is that they understand the extent to which any Republican nominee stands a chance at winning the White House, even if the economy improves at a steady clip. These people are trying to guide the first black president to reelection in a sluggish economy; I honestly have a hard time believing that they’re “cocky.”

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