My Alma Mater doesn't have much of a ground game...

Saturday, October 04, 2008

...but Barack Obama sure does.

For those of you loyal readers who don't work in politics and have never worked on a campaign, consider yourselves lucky. A political cycle is like the Hobbesian state of nature; solitary, poor, nasty, and brutish. The only difference is that instead of being short, it is long. Ungodly long.

The worst part of any campaign is field work. "Field" is shorthand for knocking door-to-door, making phone calls, registering and identifying voters, and generally persuading them to (a) show up on election day, and (b) vote for your guy/gal. It isn't glamorous, but it is vital.

Remember a couple of months ago when the McCain camp ran their series of "Paris Hilton" ads? The polls narrowed, and people asked "why isn't Obama fighting back? Shouldn't he be running tons of ads to counter this? What the hell is he DOING with his money?"

This is what he was doing with his money:


From all accounts, the Obama campaign has put more money into field operations than any campaign in history. But the more important part is that he organized EVERYWHERE, not just the traditional battlegrounds. Any idiot would have open offices in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. But Indiana, North Carolina and Missouri? The latest rumors report that Obama has 25 offices open in Indiana. McCain has... none. No offices. Until recently, the "Indiana for McCain" staff operated out of Michigan. He's reportedly moving staffers to the Hoosier state, but they only have a month to organize a state-wide voter identification and mobilization effort.

Now that we're 31 days out, it's becoming clear which states are really "in play". Had the Obama folks not organized in North Carolina, they would have to dump probably a million dollars into media buys. But because they organized there, they can just throw a few extra tens of thousands of dollars to bolster the GOTV ("Get Out The vote") efforts. It's a much cheaper alternative, which also doesn't preclude additional media buys.

Long story short, Obama is in a position to exploit states that traditional campaigns couldn't. And McCain had a much tougher time getting momentum in those same states because he's just starting up there.

6 comments:

Bob 8:05 AM  

I guess I am a horrible Democrat. I hate feild work. HATE IT!

Of course, that didn't stop me from taking 30 days off work in 2006 to knock doors. I suck this year. I haven't done squat....unless bumpe stickers count.

B Mac 8:25 AM  

Bob, your hate is justified.

The thought of knocking one more door was one of the biggest reasons I left for law school.

I'm glad they have so many volunteers. That way, I don't have to do shit.

(And your '06 work was fantastic, by the way...)

Mrs. Smitty,  9:57 AM  

Ah, Field Work. No one understands why you do it (or in a sick way, enjoy it) unless they've done it themselves. Give me doors over phones any day. It's currently my reason to visit Macomb once a week. Now if only Obama could use some of his money for gas cards for us lowly volunteers in battleground states...

Smitty 10:05 AM  

I generally hate campaigning. I don't mind door-to-door, but I will do a lit drop and knock on occasional door if I have to.

That said, that's for local candidates. I might be actually way more apt to actually knock on doors for Obama.

B Mac 11:05 AM  

I spoke to my sister in Washtenaw County this weekend. She's had two canvasses at her door already this cycle. She lives in hard "walking turf", and in a 44% Dem neighborhood (I've campaigned there in the past).

By my math, that means there have been a LOT of doors done in Washtenaw County this year.

Anonymous,  3:44 PM  

That is awesome news B-Mac. No wonder McCain gave up here.

~Pols

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