Coming out of the last election, with a four-year term still ahead, Mr. Plouffe and his team faced two principal dangers. The first was that, having achieved their main goal of getting Mr. Obama elected, many of the volunteers on O.F.A.’s lists might drift away and become inactive.
The second was that technological innovation might outpace the Obama team. Just as Facebook and text-messaging had popped up between the 2004 and 2008 campaigns, supplanting blogs and list-serves as the leading tools for organizing online, so might some fresh invention come along that O.F.A. would not be prepared to exploit as adeptly as the opposition does.
Win or lose, the midterm elections have provided an opportunity to tweak the operation in both respects. Organizers in the states are keeping their most ardent volunteers involved and pounding on the doors of first-time voters. And O.F.A. is getting a chance to evaluate its tactics on Twitter and on the iPad, capabilities that are likely to be important in waging the next campaign, as opposed to re-fighting the last one.
Mr. Obama’s advisors insist that their sole objective right now is to hold the House and Senate. But 2010 is also a practice run for Mr. Obama’s legendary field operation, and he will probably emerge stronger for having gone through the midterm campaign — even if his party does not.