Passive enthusiasm – Obama campaigners seek to reignite
Want my vote, stop calling at dinner time.
I’m all in. You have a treasure trove of legacy enthusiasm and all of my money – ain’t no more.
“Obama’s backers put out calls for support
By Stephanie McCrummen, Published: January 13
In a suburban Virginia living room, Earline Coe, solid Democrat and Obama loyalist, dials again.
“Hello, may I speak with Ellen?” she says, tapping a pen on a long list of names.
It is supposed to be a good list, one generated by the Obama campaign’s data wonks in Chicago, who have sorted their files of millions of voters and identified these as likely recruits in a renewed version of the vaunted grass-roots operation that propelled Obama’s 2008 victory.
All that’s needed now are yeses, which is what five women are trying to get at a phone bank on this Wednesday evening, especially Coe, who now has Ellen on the line.
“Hi, Ellen,” she says. “My name is Earline, and I’m calling from Obama for America? We’re calling strong Obama supporters like yourself, and — ”
Pause. “Okay. I understand that. Right. . . .And I hope your mother gets better.”
Under the column labeled “I’m in!” Coe circles “maybe” and dials again.
As the Republican nominating contests churn on, President Obama’s campaign is more quietly unfolding in living rooms such as this one in Prince William, a swing county in a swing state where reactivating old volunteers and finding new ones will be crucial to his reelection chances.
While the campaign is putting together one of the most expensive and technically sophisticated operations in the history of American politics, it is also relying again on old- fashioned, grass-roots organizing to make the whole thing fly.
In particular, the campaign is staking success on the “snowflake” theory, in which volunteers become “empowered team leaders” who are supposed to recruit more volunteers, who are supposed to become empowered team leaders themselves, and so on, expanding exponentially into a phone-bank canvassing machine as Election Day approaches.
While the campaign deployed the model in some states during the 2008 campaign, it is being used in all 50 this time, campaign officials say. They predict that their ground army will dwarf that of the eventual Republican nominee.
Others, though, wonder whether Obama — faced with a flailing economy and job approval ratings hovering around 47 percent — will be able to generate the kind of enthusiasm that so energized his last campaign.
Marshall Ganz, a Harvard University professor whose thinking was behind the grass-roots efforts in 2008, said the campaign runs the risk of confusing the technical means of fancy databases and lists with the more important end of finding a compelling vision in bleak times.
“One of the biggest mistakes they can make is to use the tactics they used before without understanding the context that allowed those tactics to work,” said Ganz, who is not currently involved with the campaign. “The question is whether they can rekindle that sense of moral urgency.”
It is the question in the living room on this Wednesday evening, where the volunteers are all women in their 40s or older.”
Via the Washington Post