Politics & Policy

Slate: Organizing for America is ‘Sleeping Giant’

Slate has an interesting, albeit overly optimistic piece, on what Organizing for America, the Democrat campaign organization that sprung out of President Obama’s 2008 run, can do in Ohio. Highlights:

Democratic hopes rest in part on Organizing for America, the Obama campaign organization that mobilized such an army for his victory in 2008. In Ohio OFA, has joined with the Democratic Party in perhaps the largest ground effort in the country. They are aided by labor unions. The AFL-CIO has been targeting workplaces and walking the streets talking to its members.

In their most expansive moments, Democrats talk about OFA as the “sleeping giant” in what looks like a bad year for Democrats. For months Obama adviser David Plouffe has been preaching the gospel that if the organization can motivate a portion of those roughly 15 million first-time voters who came out for Obama, the Democrats will win close contests. President Obama just taped a video message to OFA volunteers asking them to “fight for our candidates as strongly as you fought for me. … I need everyone here to step up their game. We have to have the same energy. The same enthusiasm. … We’ve just gone through the first quarter. The game is still on.”

The quasi-scientific precision of the process sure looks and sounds impressive. Aides talk about “capacity” and “metrics” as if they could produce voters like car parts. In Ohio, they’ve already reached out to more voters than they had by August 2008, in part because they’ve added more paid staff. Neighborhood captains who organized for Obama have been working their contacts ever since. The science of organizing says that voter contact is the best way to motivate your voters. Volunteers walk the neighborhoods with sharp-looking maps, black dots marking each house that might have first-time voters or “sporadic Democrats.” Scripts volunteers read to voters are tweaked frequently.

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