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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama Has Early Edge in Ground Game

Matea Gold and Melanie Mason of the L.A. Times Washington Bureau have an article in todays’ edition comparing the ground game preparations of the Obama and Romney campaigns. Although it’s still pretty early it appears that Obama is developing a significant edge. In terms of economic resources and manpower, the authors report:

…An examination of how the two campaigns have spent their money in the last year starkly illustrates the huge advantage Obama will have in mounting a ground operation to identify voters and get them to the polls in November.
Spared a primary opponent, the president’s reelection campaign by the end of February had pumped nearly $79 million into laying the groundwork for the general election, deploying staff to far-flung corners of the country such as Laramie, Wyo., and Lebanon, N.H., as part of an ambitious, tech-savvy field effort.
Romney, mired for months in a contentious primary, has not yet devoted substantial resources to a national field program. Of the $68 million spent so far by his campaign, $25.4 million went to fundraising and media ads in primary states, elements that — while key to his front-runner standing — may not translate into lasting gains…He has spent only $5 million on staff, compared with the $20 million Obama has doled out for his campaign workers.

With Romney’s emphasis on hiring top media-savvy conservatives to head up his team, the authors see the battle taking shape ahead as a conflict between “the power of an aerial bombardment through television ads against an in-person voter mobilization months in the making.” Call it the Republican air war vs. the Democratic ground game.
It’s a strategy the Obama campaign is embracing wholeheartedly, as Mason and Gold note:

The campaign appears poised to be even more aggressive this year. Volunteers are registering new voters in an effort to expand the pool of supporters. They are knocking on doors to identify likely voters — an activity that usually occurs in the summer or fall. And the reelection effort has begun blanketing battleground states with field offices, including 18 in Florida, 13 in Pennsylvania and eight in Iowa. In the process, Obama’s apparatus has locked up local Democratic operatives across the country much earlier than expected…That traditional field work is being buttressed by a massive technological investment aimed at expanding the campaign’s voter database, which in turn fuels the organizing efforts.

The RNC does plan to increase its field staff by half, but an energetic Team Obama ground game is already in place — with more to come.

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