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Obama campaign putting more emphasis on ground efforts and GOTV

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cbc5g Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-20-08 02:44 PM
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Obama campaign putting more emphasis on ground efforts and GOTV
Combined with T.V. advertising while McCain putting more emphasis on traditional campaigning with heavy T.V. advertising in states like Ohio and Florida and minimal ground efforts. /

Behind the headlines about the unprecedented success of Democrat Barack Obama's fund-raising machine lies a more prosaic truth - his campaign will need every penny of its $300 million goal to bankroll an unprecedented 50-state general election campaign with a massive army on the ground.

McCain so far is running a more traditional campaign, targeting perennial tossup states such as Florida and Ohio, sending smaller staffs to those states than Obama, but spending more on television ads. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, said recently that his staff will eventually increase to about 450. By earlier this month, it had opened 11 regional offices in key states and another 84 offices across the country in a joint effort with the Republican National Committee.

Obama, meanwhile, is already running uncontested television advertising in seven of the historically Republican states and is sending in large paid staffs.

"Between the Obama staff and the Democratic Party staff there will be several thousand" paid operatives on the ground deployed across the country, deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand said in an interview. "I don't want to get too specific; it gives away strategy."

Large staffs are working in traditional battleground states and every state will have at least some paid staff, with "large-scale operations in 22 states, medium operations in many others, and small staffs in only a handful of states," Hildebrand said.

Obama and the Democratic Party have about 200 paid staffers working in Florida and more on the way, 90 in Michigan with plans to expand to 200 by August, at least 200 each eventually in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and 50 in Missouri with plans to expand to 150, according to published reports and interviews with Obama campaign officials. Hildebrand said state organizations should be at full strength by the end of August.


Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show that in May the campaign had a payroll of about 900, not counting nearly 500 part-time workers who were paid stipends. As of May 31, the Obama campaign staff was well over twice the size of the Bush reelection campaign staff in 2004 and nearly three times the size of McCain's current staff, and has expanded significantly since.

"The climate has made millions of Americans who haven't been involved in a political campaign ever in their lifetimes very active," Hildebrand said. "We estimate that 70 percent of our grass-roots volunteers haven't worked in a campaign before. . . . We're somewhere just shy of 2 million volunteers, and we think we can potentially triple that on Election Day."

That would mean 6 million volunteers. For comparison, about 116 million people voted in the 2004 presidential election.

To accomplish that, Obama's campaign is assembling what would be the largest field operation in the history of American politics. Advertising and campaign communications will be important and debate performances will be critical, but the Obama campaign is investing heavily in the importance of organizing voters and getting them to the polls on Nov. 4.


It's a major departure from the 2004 Democratic game plan in which the ground organization was split and sometimes duplicated between the Senator John F. Kerry-Democratic Party operation and a group called America Coming Together, financed primarily by wealthy liberal activists and labor unions. ACT spent about $80 million and had 300 employees and 1,400 paid canvassers working in 17 key states.

"People tend to believe information delivered by people they know and who live in their neighborhood more than an ad they see on television or what some third party from out of their state is telling them," said Sasso, who supported Clinton in the primaries and has played key roles in many presidential campaigns. "It can really change the electoral map."
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