to play to one's base


Please help me understand what "playing to his base" and "playing to the country" mean in the following.

Last night Obama played to his base. Romney played to the country. Both effectively executed their end-game strategies. There's still no telling who will win the final round on Election Day.

(from an old news from
  • When used in this sense, "playing to" means saying things that the audience wants to hear. A politician's "base" is his or her largest and most important group of supporters. So when a politician "plays to his base," it means that he is saying the things that are most strongly supported by the people who most support him.

    "Playing to the country" would similarly mean that Romney said things that (ostensibly) most of the country was likely to believe in and wanted to hear.
    His base is the set of people who support him strongly. These are also people who share his views. So "played to his base" would mean that Obama said things that many people would object to, but "his base" would agree with. Romney said things that most of the country would agree with.