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Sun Nov 18, 2012, 11:25 PM

"How To Run a Killer Campaign" by John Dickerson at Slate

How To Run a Killer Campaign

by John Dickerson at Slate



The Obama campaign’s massive network of neighborhood offices is a good example of the human theory behind the numbers. Obama’s team often boasted about how many offices it had opened, especially in critical swing states. During the summer when I talked to a top Republican operative in one of the battleground states about Obama’s impressive number of field offices, he scoffed at the waste of time and money; it was only so much real-estate bragging. But behind the numbers was a theory about voter interaction. If a voter met someone who looked like them and shared their experience, he or she might be more receptive to Obama’s message. In the months of touring all the battleground states and back again, the Obama offices always seemed to mirror the local setting; the Romney victory centers were more corporate. The number of neighborhood offices was really a demonstration of the commitment behind the push for a human connection. “These people get all kinds of information but if they have a neighbor that can help them sort through information—that was one of the secret weapons of Barack Obama’s campaign,” says Messina.

Empowering each little neighborhood office was part of the Obama campaign’s larger theory about teamwork. “When you’re in a big world of a $1 billion campaign, you are in many ways just someone who brings a team together and empowers them,” he says. This sounds fuzzy, and so does the goopy word “empowerment,” but that’s where the data comes in. Data means accountability. “The trick is allowing everyone to feel like they have a piece in building it, but it can’t be pie in the sky. You have to have firm metrics that are measurable every day. There’s a fine line between allowing people to dream up their campaign and having them be accountable.”

How did this work in practice? During the 2011 cycle, volunteers at Organizing for America, Obama’s campaign arm that never stopped after the 2008 effort, asked to put their energies into contests like the Wisconsin recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and local congressional and mayoral races. Messina originally had wanted OFA only to focus on the presidential race, but he changed course using the volunteers’ enthusiasm for local races to test the systems that would be used in the presidential race. “We moved resources to Wisconsin and ran some tests in mayors’ races and congressional special elections and that became laboratories for what we built in 2012. We never planned to do it that way, but it was one of the best things we did. People worked way harder, were way more involved, and we learned a whole lot that became our tech products.”

One of the products that the Obama team discarded was the iPad at the door. When volunteers tried to use the iPad to talk to voters—showing them a video or other material—it didn’t work. “Showing ads at the door didn’t make sense. It was about having conversations. We trained our people to have longer conversations. We iterated.”


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Reply "How To Run a Killer Campaign" by John Dickerson at Slate (Original post)
applegrove Nov 2012 OP
boingboinh Nov 2012 #1
MissMarple Nov 2012 #2

Response to applegrove (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:07 AM

1. Excellent Read


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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:39 AM

2. We had a lot of offices in Colorado Springs.

Several canvassers came to my door. But not after we all voted. We had one neighbor call about one of us registered R. But she votes D. I really didn't have the heart to tell her that.

They where so out classed?

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