Team O: No, really, it was all the president

posted at 6:09 pm on November 8, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

There are any number of conclusions to be drawn from the outcome of Tuesday’s election (and how!), but among the biggest discussion points of the last two days has been about the indisputable superiority of the Democratic ground game and campaign machinery. Says Peter Hamby at CNN:

Democrats showed decisively that their ground game — the combined effort to find, persuade and turn out voters — is devastatingly better than anything their rivals have to offer.

“When it comes to the use of voter data and analytics, the two sides appear to be as unmatched as they have ever been on a specific electioneering tactic in the modern campaign era,” Sasha Issenberg, a journalist and an expert in the science of campaigning, wrote just days before the election proved him right. “No party ever has ever had such a durable structural advantage over the other on polling, making television ads, or fundraising, for example.” …

Obama organizers, meanwhile, had been deeply embedded in small towns and big cities for years, focusing their persuasion efforts on person-to-person contact. …

Sources involved in the GOP turnout effort admitted they were badly outmatched in the field by an Obama get-out-the-vote operation that lived up to their immense hype…

Their GOTV efforts, communications, youth outreach, internal polling, everything — there’s no denying that it was a smart and stupendous effort, and it was a decisive factor that paid off for them. But, ever on-message, Team Obama would rather we interpret this as a mark of sweeping enthusiasm for President Obama’s policies rather than a victory of logistics, according to the NYT:

But less than 48 hours after Mr. Obama clinched re-election, his aides were becoming wary that the first draft of history on the campaign was turning into a story about how smart campaign tactics had delivered victory to an embattled president rather than one about how it was all due to the president himself and his policies.

So, for the last time, his campaign team held a conference call with reporters on Thursday afternoon to push back.

“We have a remarkable staff and campaign,’’ said David Plouffe, a senior adviser to the president. But, crediting the volunteer army that went to work on his behalf, Mr. Plouffe added, “the reason that those people got involved is because they believed in Barack Obama — it was a relationship between them and our candidate.”

Jim Messina also went on to argue that the results are a vindication of the president’s proposal to hike taxes on the wealthy as a means to reduce the deficit, etc. etc.  — and I get what they’re saying, of course. In a certain light they’re correct, but even the most spectacular product on earth has trouble gaining traction without marketing. The GOP has a number of issues to address, but it’s looking more and more like we didn’t do too well on turning out a chunk of our own voters, I am highly suspicious that, supposing that ground game between the two camps was a constant instead of a variable, the end result might’ve been very different.


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