Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Different Kind of Campaign

Thanks to John McCain's nasty turn (more on that later), I've just started working for the Obama campaign.  I've never seen anything like it. It's a whole different approach to promoting a candidate. Because they have so many volunteers, the Obama camp can run a tremendous ground campaign. The idea is to stay away from worrying about the news cycle and its ups and downs and simply work incrementally, calling, canvassing, registering, and recruiting. It's about doing all of the little things well.

Given the tremendous size of their volunteer force and their money, I don't see how the Obama camp can be beat. All of the flash of the news -who said what, where and when, what the polls show on a particular hour of the day - doesn't mean much. It means a lot to McCain because he wants to create the perception that he's controlling the news. But he doesn't have Obama's workforce or money.

I hate sports analogies, but I'll use one here. John McCain is throwing the ball like crazy because he doesn't have much of a defense and his offensive line stinks. But with all his manpower and money, Obama is controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the field. The public and press get all excited about the long bombs John McCain is tossing as of late - the VP out of nowhere, the nasty ads, etc. - but there's the more important interior battle going on that the press isn't paying attention to.

John McCain may get lucky every now and then with his wild efforts, but in the end, he just doesn't have the team that Obama has. No one I've ever worked for has had this kind of team. They are driven. They are focused. They care little about what the nightly news does or doesn't say. There are just so many enthusiastic worker bees.

Plus the mad frenzy of the McCain campaign is starting to backfire. Like last election, the Republicans unleashed a barrage of lies and misinformation about the Democratic nominee right after their convention. But unlike last time, it isn't working. The press is all over these efforts and is being very blunt about calling them dirty tricks. McCain can't even go onto a "ladies talk show" on afternoon television without getting hammered and being called a liar.  Any day that millions of television watchers hear the "liar" word attached to your name is not a good day.

McCain's running mate is quickly losing her shine as well and repulses just about as many people as she attracts; every day, some new nasty bit of information appears about Palin. Yesterday, the Alaska legislature voted to subpoena Palin's husband. Reformers are the ones who deliver subpoenas not the ones who receive them. The entire narrative that Palin is any kind of reformer is proving to be a fiction.

If you don't view the Obama campaign up close and personal, you might think that because it's generally so soft spoken, it's wimpy. That's not it. It's soft spoken because it feels that that screaming loudly and pounding your fist is a waste of energy and a distraction. They are confident that they can easily win this election quietly.

I've never been a part of this kind of approach. It's very team oriented and disciplined. It's not part of my background to have the luxury of being low key because of your strength in numbers. I've always worked in situations where the money is tight and the personnel are small. But I have no doubt that this approach will work. McCain can throw as many Hail Marys and trash talk as much as he wants. Obama is killing him on the line of scrimmage. Add in the burden of being a Republican with an unpopular Republican president in office and McCain doesn't stand a chance.

Forget about the news cycle and all of the narratives being told by the press.  Every day, the Obama camp is making millions of phone calls.  Every day, it registers new voters.  Every day, it's going door to door.  Every day, it's incrementally moving closer to victory.

No comments: