A lot of people have portrayed Obama's decision to campaign hard in places like Alaska, Texas, and Wyoming as an example of hubris -- comparable to the Bush campaign's last-minute expenditures in California in 2000 or New Jersey in 2004. But as Michael Turk at The Next Right speculated last night and Ben Smith confirms today, Obama is actually concerned about far more than getting those states' electoral votes in November.
In fact, many states that are unlikely to be competitive in November have been chosen for attention from the Obama campaign because they either have Senate or congressional races that are likely to be very competitive or state legislatures that are likely to swap party control. Sure, the campaign hasn't entirely abandoned the idea that it can win say, North Dakota, but even if it doesn't win, it knows there's still a lot to gain by competing there.
And while Obama may be doing this because he can -- his leads in some polls are reaching double digits and his cash advantage is likely to be huge -- he's also showing a remarkable degree of foresight and concern for his party. I mean, I may be wrong (please tell me if I am), but I don't think Clinton did anything like this in 1996 when he was doing as well as Obama is now. Neither did Reagan in 1984. And I certainly doubt that any non-incumbent president has ever tried anything similar.
This should be reassuring news for Democrats, not just because it has the potential to help them across the country, but because it shows that Obama cares about a lot more than being elected. If he's already looking at the size of his congressional majority in 2009 and 2010 (and after, given that he's also targeting state legislatures which will control the next round of redistricting) that reflects a deep desire to push for big changes that require a big majority in Congress (something both LBJ and FDR had when they pushed through big progressive reforms).