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Obama’s Alternative Red State Universe

NORFOLK, Virg. — Sen. Barack Obama tours another swing state school on Wednesday, pushing a retooled education plan that promises more of everything.

There’s more funding (for teachers and charter schools); more standards (to improve achievement); and more choice (for local “innovation” programs and open source classrooms).

Image has not been found. URL: http://www.washingtonindependent.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/picture-18-300x211.pngObama speaks at an Ohio school on Tuesday.

These policy events present something of an alternative campaign universe in targeted states. While the national press and political websites go gaffe-gorging, local papers cover Obama’s working class agenda. Take these headlines from this week’s Dayton Daily News, for example:

**OBAMA ON EDUCATION: PARENTS MUST HELP

OBAMA TALKS WITH ABX WORKERS ABOUT JOBS

SUPPORTERS WAIT FOR CHANCE TO HEAR OBAMA**

Local voters gain information by attending events or learning about them through their circle of friends. At each stop, I’ve watched campaign organizers ask attendees to sync their cell phones with Obama’s text message network. The campaign is also furiously registering new voters in red states like Virginia to buck the region’s Republican foundation. (It hasn’t gone blue since 1964.) Jay Newton-Small reports the early returns of that effort, in a new article today for Time.com:

Virginia is one of 10 states that went for President Bush in 2004 but that the Obama campaign believes will be [tight in November]… Since January alone more than 3.5 million new voters have been registered in 17 of the 23 states tracked closely by the Obama campaign where information is available…. [I]n 14 of the states at least half of the new voters are under 35, a key demographic for Obama. (emphasis added)

Obama’s education speeches have been depicted as an appeal to women voters, but they also resonate with young voters in general, whose priorities include education, along with Iraq and the economy, and could be crucial to Obama turning the tide here.

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