McCain strategy memo emphasizes state polls

A strategy memo sent by Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) campaign to his supporters emphasizes state polls over national polls in its analysis of the race for the Republican nomination.

McCain trails in many national polls by double digits, but is neck-and-neck or better in most early states. The memo, ostensibly drafted by chief strategist John Weaver, explicitly refers to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — traditionally the first three GOP states.

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“These contests will set the stage and establish momentum going into Florida on January 29 and then very quickly into the February 5 contests,” Weaver wrote.

The memo said it is unrealistic to expect any campaign to do what it would like to in all the states that are moving contests up to Feb. 5. It said the stampede only makes the earliest states that much more important.

The strategy of emphasizing state polls — as Weaver wrote, “state by state polling is the key to understanding the real dynamics of this race” — also was employed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign when Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) began drawing close to even in some national polls last month.