Clinton has been reluctant to begin rigorous campaign activity this spring, given the absence of any serious competition for the Democratic nomination at this point. She has often remarked that her husband didn’t announce his candidacy until the fall of 1991. But her team has been warned by veterans of the Obama campaigns not to take the absence of stiff competition for the nomination as an excuse to start slowly. The advice has been pointed: don’t waste 2015. Clinton appears to be taking that advice to heart.
Even in the eight years since she first ran for president, Clinton campaign operations have changed dramatically, particularly in the areas of data, analytics, targeting, digital, social media and organizing. These are enormously challenging — and time consuming — aspects of a presidential campaign.
Obama’s reelection campaign spent most of 2011 trying to build the political, financial and especially the technological infrastructure necessary to wage a general election — and needed every bit of that time and more to work out many of the bugs. And they weren’t starting from scratch, as Clinton will be doing. They had spent the years after the 2008 campaign testing, experimenting and refining their operation.
Mechanics are one thing, but candidate performance is another. Clinton may be building a different campaign operation, but will she be a different candidate in 2016 — and does she need to be?