Obama's Edge: The Ground Game That Could Put Him Over the Top
_____ In a technical sense, the Romney campaign actually does not have a ground game at all. It has handed over that responsibility to the Republican National Committee, which leads a coordinated effort intended to boost candidates from the top of the ticket on down. The RNC says this is an advantage: The presidential campaign and the local campaigns aren't duplicating efforts, and the RNC was able to start building its ground operation to take on Obama in March, before Romney had secured the GOP nomination.
"The Romney campaign doesn't do the ground game," Rick Wiley, the RNC's political director, told me. "They have essentially ceded that responsibility to the RNC. They understand this is our role." The disadvantage of this is that the RNC is composed of its state Republican Parties, which vary dramatically in quality. States like Florida and Virginia have strong Republican operations, while those in Iowa and Nevada haven't recovered from attempted takeovers by Ron Paul partisans, and the Ohio GOP still bears the scars of a protracted leadership fight earlier in the year.
Some Republicans admit that the ground game is a weakness for the party. In Colorado, one top GOP consultant who has worked on presidential campaigns told me he mentally added 2 to 4 points to Obama's polls in the state based on superior organization. In Florida, GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said Republicans would win in other ways: "They're very organized. They're very, very organized, and you have to admit they're very organized," Diaz-Balart said of the Democrats . . .
We may not be able to fully size up the campaigns' ground games and their effect until Election Day -- and maybe not even then. But what struck me most, in talking to Republicans about their ground game, was the extent to which they admitted they weren't even playing the game . . .