Obama's small-town outreach is crushing McCain's

In August I compared Barack Obama's field operations in several states to what John McCain's campaign was putting together and concluded that Obama's small-town outreach would crush McCain's.

Keeping Republican margins down in small towns and rural areas has the potential to put many more states in the blue column. This diary by ManfromMiddletown shows why with lots of maps.

I am happy to report that with less than a month to go, the Obama campaign is deploying its army of staff and volunteers to get out the vote in scores of cities and towns where the McCain campaign is nowhere to be seen except on television.

Iowa isn't much of a swing state, with five recent polls putting Obama over 50 percent and beating McCain by at least 10 points. Nevertheless, the Obama campaign is taking no chances here. They've got more than 40 field offices. They've been canvassing in dozens of communities, large and small, every weekend since July. During the week, surrogates for Obama are regularly holding "rural roundtables" and other campaign events.

It's easy for volunteers in larger communities to sign up to help in small towns. One of my friends showed me the Obama 08 application on his iPhone yesterday. Among other things, it shows you volunteer opportunities in your area. For instance, he saw that they need people to hand out Obama-Biden stickers in the Covered Bridges parade this weekend in Winterset (25 miles from his home in the Des Moines suburbs). Contact information for the relevant Obama office and field organizer was right there, along with a link he could click if he needed directions.

When early voting began in Iowa the last week of September, Obama's campaign organized 21 phone banks and 17 supporter gatherings around the state within a 24-hour period.

Today the Obama campaign in Iowa launched an early voting RV tour. Click the link for a list of stops this RV will make just in the first two days of the tour. There is a particular focus on small college campuses and high schools in small cities and towns.

This pattern is being repeated around the country. While McCain and the Republican National Committee are scrambling to move staff into states like Indiana and Virginia, Obama has had field offices up and running for months.

The level of activity in Obama offices is very high. To cite just one example, Obama has more than 40 field offices in Missouri. McCain has 15 Missouri offices, up from six in August. But as Sean Quinn noted in this post about his road trip to Missouri, hardly anything is happening in the typical McCain field office:

Let's be clear. We've observed no comparison between these ground campaigns. To begin with, there's a 4-1 ratio of offices in most states. We walk into McCain offices to find them closed, empty, one person, two people, sometimes three people making calls. Many times one person is calling while the other small clutch of volunteers are chatting amongst themselves. In one state, McCain's state field director sat in one of these offices and, sotto voce, complained to us that only one man was making calls while the others were talking to each other about how much they didn't like Obama, which was true. But the field director made no effort to change this. This was the state field director.

Only for the first time the other day did we see a McCain organizer make a single phone call. So we've now seen that once. The McCain organizers seem to operate as maître Ds. Let me escort you to your phone, sir. Pick any one of this sea of empty chairs. I'll be sitting over here if you need any assistance.[...]

You could take every McCain volunteer we've seen doing actual work in the entire trip, over six states, and it would add up to the same as Obama's single Thornton, CO office. Or his single Durango, CO office. These ground campaigns bear no relationship to each other.

A ground game can't win an election by itself, but it should help Obama squeeze many more votes out of a favorable political climate.

I was a precinct captain for John Kerry in 2004, and Obama's ground game is several orders of magnitude better. Kerry's GOTV mostly focused on cities and suburbs, and in particular on heavily Democratic precincts. In many cases, MoveOn or America Coming Together volunteers were duplicating our efforts by knocking on the same doors and calling the same people.

Obama is getting the vote out in cities and suburbs, but I suspect his investment in small towns will give him the decisive edge in enough red states to put him over 270 electoral votes. It's been a while since Republican presidential candidates had to work hard for votes in those areas, and McCain's campaign doesn't seem up to the task.

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What You Don't Know About OR-Sen Candidate Merkley

Oregon Senate candidate Jeff Merkley is most well known for his work in the Oregon House. As Minority Leader, Merkley helped engineer a Democratic takeover of the House and ended sixteen years of Republican rule. Merkley was unanimously elected Speaker of the House, where he led the most progressive, productive, greenest and labor friendly session we've seen in thirty years. But, what people don't know about Merkley is he has extensive experience in national security policy and international relations. Follow me below the fold to learn more about Jeff Merkley.....

Full disclosure, I am the netroots director for OR-Sen candidate Merkley

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Blue Wave Rising: Oregon Election Update

The following is my update of the races that will be contested next month in the state of Oregon.  My projections will be updated probably one more time shortly before election day.  I do not work for any campaign and my projections are my own.

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun: http://loadedorygun.net/showDiary.do?dia ryId=1395

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Feeney Apology Remix

(Sent to me by a friend in South Florida who wishes to remain anonymous...)

Florida Congressman Tom Feeney gave a fake apology over his ethical troubles in the Jack Abramoff scandal, here are the facts, mixed into the original television ad...

If you want Feeney out of Washington, contribute to Suzanne Kosmas

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Obama campaign holding "Health Care Canvasses" today

Barack Obama's campaign is already running two television ads that make the case against John McCain on health care.

Today the Obama campaign will send volunteers out knocking on doors in ten Iowa cities to "talk about the differences between the Obama plan to make health care affordable and the McCain plan to tax employees' health benefits." I assume canvassers will be doing the same thing in other states.

I think it's smart for Obama to push this point about McCain wanting to tax health care benefits, but don't imagine that this is the only thing wrong with McCain's health care plan.

Elizabeth Edwards made a strong case against other aspects of McCain's plan this spring. (See also this article about her speech to the annual meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists.) One of the biggest problems is that insurers could continue to exclude people with pre-existing conditions, including cancer survivors like McCain and Elizabeth Edwards.

Whether or not you canvass today, you may want to bring up these points as well as the tax issue if you talk with undecided voters about the difference between Obama and McCain on health care reform.

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