Country Roads

Take me home, country roads, to the place, I belong, West Virginia, blah blah blah.

I doubt Barack Obama is singing that song today.

After barely going to the state, Obama won’t even acknowledge his primary loss there today. He is going to Missouri — a battleground state, as the media likes to helpfully point out — in order to make the case that what happens in West Virginia stays in West Virginia.

But can Obama afford to ignore West Virginia, and other states like it, for his match-up this coming fall with John McCain? By figuratively throwing in the towel early, he risks sending the message that West Virginia is McCain territory, saving McCain resources as he plots his course to an electoral map victory.

Will Obama do the same thing when he gets blown out in Kentucky? What message does that send to Tennessee? How about Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania?

Where else will Obama throw in the towel? Texas? Can he really compete in Florida? The Solid South still looks pretty solid for McCain. The Rust Belt is looking pretty good for McCain, too.

Obama plans on visiting Michigan this week, which is smart. His speech to the auto makers, where he gave his version of tough love, wasn’t exactly well-received by many auto-workers. He might want to follow that up with a more conciliatory plan, but even that might not be enough.

Most Republicans I talk to believe that Hillary is peaking at the right time to show just how weak Obama will be in the general election. Where they once salivated over running against Clinton, now they welcome an Obama-McCain match-up.

George Bush barely won in West Virgnia in 2000. He had to spend considerable resources, but he was able to overcome the state’s long history as a Democratic state. McCain should be able to win it in a cakewalk.