Sunday, July 20, 2008

Field (Organization) of Dreams

My wife and I were discussing today how much it costs to run for President. Like most (normal) people, my wife thinks the cost is too much and it is money spent better elsewhere. Probably true. On the other hand people spent$155 million to see Batman this weekend.

When you read about Barack spending all that money on advertising that is only part true. A large portion of Barack's money is getting spent on building the largest field organization ever in Presidential politics. While McCain and the RNC are spending money on TV 4 months before the election, it's hard to believe that they are getting their money's worth. At this point both candidates presence on the TV news dwarfs the actual ad spend. The vast majority of the exposire they are getting is free.

The Boston Globe gave great insight to how Barack is spending his money these days:

"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.

Paid staffers on the ground. Registering voters, building a database of volunteers and future donors and laying out the building blocks to build the party in the future.

When you hear polls being reported, they only tell part of the story. The numbers of people that support Barack or McCain only differ by a few percent almost within the margin of error. What doesn't get measured until election day is who turns out their voters better. If you think TV ads will turn out votes then McCain will stand a fighting chance. But if Obama's army of full time staffers and volunteers crank up their turn out in the neighborhood of 65-70% and higher in key states, then you are going to see an electoral landslide.

This organization and infrastructure being built will not only effect this election, but will be lay the groundwork for elections for the next 2-3 election cycles. So if you are concerned about our current direction and want to help do something then go donate. Elections cost money but in the end you hopefully get an ending at least as good as Batman.

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