Tuesday, October 14, 2008


O.k., maybe it isn't yet time to stop McNaming John. Kind of like McDonalds. Does that make Sarah Palin the Hamburgler?

While the 4+/- margin of error may make this CBS/NY Times poll more like Obama 49% and McCain 41%, but the fact that the morning of the final Presidential debate has the candidates at 53%-39% must be troubling for the McCain camp. It's a threshold you don't want to cross, even in an outlier. It's something you don't want bolstered with most post-debate polls. Crossing below the 40% mark, that's Bush Country.

But what if the dam really is bursting.

While the 100% negative as spend this past week polls as one reason for the drop in McCain support, clearly the biggest political mistake of this political cycle was his selection of running mate. Sarah Palin has single-handedly flipped Florida for Obama. She scares old people, especially elderly Jews.

Per Adam Nagourney, Obama eased voter doubt past the tipping point in the two debates. McCain isn't going to beat him by being nice or feisty or aggressive tonight. The die is cast. Even if he comes in jovial it'll read as erratic.

But we're also seeing the beginning of the organizational tsunami. Obama has an amazing early voting effort, which has him ahead in the pre-election day vote in New Mexico by 23 points and in Ohio by 18 points -- votes already cast.

My own experience: I volunteered for phone banking yesterday at the well-situated Democratic HQ here on Wilshire and 9th in Santa Monica. So well-organized, with some key people (mainly young women) making things work, while volunteers of all ages put in time.

The 13-year-old girl next to me got called a "dumbass" on one call, and I got one 80-year-old McCain supporter but he was respectful, and a few enthused Obama supporters. One guy told me he's voting for Obama because "McCain's too old and Palin's a dipshit!" Right on.

Mostly it was marking down "NH" for not home, but they have these call sheets with UPC's for each of the 18 targets on the list, along with age and registration. When you finish the sheets they go right to the data entry team. I used a landline, but there was one guy just trafficking cellphones (leave your driver's license) and swapping batteries. The core focus of these calls to Nevada is early voting, I'm assuming for the next few weeks. I'm guessing there's a horizon (maybe not this election) where a campaign wins before Election Day even begins. I'm betting the momentum of cast votes will almost always help whoever is ahead -- winners are magnetic, not so much perceived losers.

I got one mom on the phone who was happy to get the early voting info for her and her husband -- that's a phone number that reaches the Nevada campaign to tell you early voting places and even provides a ride(!) -- as well as absentee ballot info for her son in college back in Boston. The old (like, 78) woman next to me (and her 80+ year-old husband) was hilarious. She was a Hillary supporter who thought she'd vote Obama but not volunteer -- she and her husband both phonebanked for Kerry and were unhappy with the result -- until Sarah Palin came along! She started going to websites debunking the anti-Obama emails her friends were sending her and has grown to really like the guy.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the organizers told me that one of their very best callers is just 10-years-old.

There's a buzz going on coast-to-coast now, and Zack Exley lays it all out on HuffPo:
The "New Organizers" have succeeded in building what many netroots-oriented campaigners have been dreaming about for a decade. Other recent attempts have failed because they were either so "top-down" and/or poorly-managed that they choked volunteer leadership and enthusiasm; or because they were so dogmatically fixated on pure peer-to-peer or "bottom-up" organizing that they rejected basic management, accountability and planning. The architects and builders of the Obama field campaign, on the other hand, have undogmatically mixed timeless traditions and discipline of good organizing with new technologies of decentralization and self-organization.

Win or lose, "The New Organizers" have already transformed thousands of communities—and revolutionized the way organizing itself will be understood and practiced for at least the next generation...This article focuses on the field program's innovative "neighborhood team" structure and the philosophy of volunteer management underlying it that is best summarized by the field campaign's ubiquitous motto: "Respect. Empower. Include."
I expect the Obama 2008 Campaign, from the first strategic plan Barack presented to Michelle in order to get her approval to run two years ago through the groundbreaking GOTV effort on Election Day, will be taught not only in political science classes but also business schools for the next 25-50 years.

And I recommend participating -- less than three weeks left to volunteer to be a part of making history.

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