Two notes about the Barack Obama campaign, mid September 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

View of the skyline at night in Richmond Virginia, while crossing the Manchester Bridge.

First things first, the Obama campaign would like me to provide the following address to those that haven't yet registered to vote:
Think of all the people you know -- your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors. What if every one of them voted on Election Day?

That's a lot of votes.

But odds are, many of them aren't registered -- or aren't sure if they are.

Now there's an easy way to learn your status and get registered. Our new one-stop voter registration site,, lets you do it all: check your registration status, register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and find your early voting site or polling location...P.S. -- There are lots of ways to get this important information out there. Help spread the word by adding to your email footer, or share it with friends on online social networks.

Getting as many people as possible registered to vote, and then making sure they go to the polls, is going to take all of us working together. Thanks.
Okay, now that that's done, there's another interesting piece from about how the campaign is focused almost entirely on the get out the vote operation and almost not at all on campaign signs. That's a good thing, and the article and I agree on that 100%. Anyone who paid close attention to the Republican primaries in late 2007 and early 2008 knows that the Ron Paul campaign was almost 100% grassroots, which created a lot of excitement but also meant that people spent a lot of time working on things like signs, something that didn't translate into victory in the end. Here's what the article from fivethirtyeight says on the issue:
Obama campaign strategists believe that, with their massive months-long, grinding-it-out-every-day registration plan, that 80 percent of those new registrations would vote for Obama, and that 75% of the newly registered voters will turn out. If 75% of an 80-20 split on 300,000 new registrants turns out, that’s Barack Obama adding 135,000 bonus votes to his total in Virginia alone. Organizers in Obama’s Virginia campaign offices have been sternly instructed to focus on those numbers by spending long, exhausting days recruiting volunteers instead of spending their limited time worrying about whether there are enough yard signs to go around.
In South Carolina’s crushing Obama primary win, there were a measly 1,000 Obama yard signs in the entire state.
Organizers – the people out there killing themselves to win this election – hate yard signs with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.
Barack Obama’s organizers hate them. John McCain’s organizers hate them. It’s because yard signs don’t vote – but they do generate a ridiculous amount of complaining that must be patiently listened to. Until yard signs sprout little legs and go to the polls on Election Day, in a presidential election with universal name recognition they are just a nice little decoration.

They’re little feel good things, making you feel like you’re on the team. There is nothing wrong with that – that’s not the objection. The objection is that there is limited time for organizers to accomplish a wide array of prioritized tasks, and in this election they’ve chosen to prioritize identifying, registering, persuading and getting their voters to the polls. Yard signs cut into the organizer’s sleep time – literally.
Yes, of course it would be nice to have more yard signs. If organizers had an infinite amount of time, they would be happy to pester their bosses up the ladder to see when they’re coming in. Then they’d love to chat with you about how someone stole or defaced them, and run a bunch of replacements right out.

But in the very purple, exurban Northern Virginia neighborhoods there is a problem. There’s a walk list sitting in a campaign office not being walked and knocked, and a newly-registered voter who projects as .45 of a vote for Obama is not being registered.
And that's not even half of the article. Give it a good read because the person running that site really knows what he is doing. 590 comments so far for that post too, and it was only put up yesterday.


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