Be Everything (OR Lack of Oxygen at the Convention)

August 25, 2008

Normally, I really appreciate the objective information that Marc Ambinder collects and disseminates. Tonight, though, in anticipation of Michelle Obama’s speech he wrote:

Hate to say it, but she has to appear normal, average and exceptional.

How exactly does one appear both normal, average and exceptional? Isn’t exceptional, by definition, not average? If everyone were normal, would anyone be exceptional?

Preparing (OR Something cool this way comes)

August 20, 2008

Ever since Dave got me hooked on blog-reading, I’ve noticing that there are times when different people talk around the same topics around the same time…  and not the typical “this is what happened today” type things. Recently, Matt, Dday, and Ezra all wrote about Sen. Obama’s organization, voter turnout, or both.

So, Matt was first, pointing to this graph about under- and over-representation, by age, in the electorate:

He points out that Kerry was successful in getting younger voters to the polls. File that away for now.

Ezra paired with Dana Goldstein to detail Sen. Obama’s efforts to build a large, organized political apparatus. It’s a fascinating article, with some enlightening context surrounding this political moment we’re in.

The Obama campaign had decided, Axelrod announced to a crowd of 250 at the downtown Wortham Center, to send 15 paid staffers to the state and organize thousands of volunteers to get out the vote, an unprecedented commitment of resources to the Lone Star State from a Democratic presidential campaign. The goal isn’t for Obama to win Texas’ 34 electoral votes. Rather, by registering Democrats, Obama hopes to help the Texas Democratic Party regain control of its state legislature, which would allow Democrats to redistrict the state’s congressional delegation for 2010, potentially winning House seats in the process. That’s not simply down-ballot organizing–it’s way down-ballot organizing, reaching into state legislatures to influence coming congressional reapportionments in order to create large national majorities years down the line. Obama, looking ahead to governing with as large a congressional majority as possible, is determined to take advantage of a population boom in the Houston area, which is increasingly dominated by immigrants.

And, finally, Dday, summarizes the value of voter turnout, which is something I’ve written about before:

Mike Lux said that was the first time he’s EVER heard a top Presidential campaign head say something like that about the importance of voter registration, and I agree with him.

One of the very few blogs which has charted this sea change in the importance of field is the estimate 538, where Nate and in particular Sean Quinn have detailed the advantage between the two campaigns at this point. Keeping in mind that we’re 77 days out, some of these numbers are simply incredible. Obama has a 3:1 lead in field offices, behind in only one battleground state (Florida). His edge in voter contacts – knocking on doors and making phone calls – is maybe 35:1, and that’s probably an extremely conservative estimate.


There were over 200 volunteers at one Los Angeles location, all of who are now empowered to be organizers with defined roles to play for the rest of the campaign. Most of the more senior organizers who ran the Camp Obama meetings and are running field operations in all 50 states were volunteers on the primary campaign who were gradually given more and more responsibility. The mantra of the weekend was that “this is a numbers-driven, people-centered campaign,” and the goals of the organizers were to get more volunteers to make more contacts to reach the targets set by the campaign, which are nothing short of massive.

It was reassuring to read Dday’s post at a time when Sen. McCain is closing the gap in many polls.

At the same time, it feels like Sen. Obama is almost intentionally keeping a low profile until the Convention. Like he’s letting Sen. McCain spout off, and make a larger and larger ass of himself, as he monopolizes the coverage.

And then Sen. Obama will make a huge splash at his Convention. He’ll start with his VP choice (although, it would be kinda cool for him to make the announcement at the Convention, not before). He’ll guide the content of the keynotes in the direction he needs to prepare for his speech, his challenge.

These stories about Sen. Obama’s organization remind us that we have lost sight of the scope of Sen. Obama’s campaign. I fully expect Sen. Obama to seize the moment, in front of 70,000+ people, to challenge his organization, his party, his country, to mobilize and energize each other.

He will take this opportunity to unleash the breadth of his organization. He’ll point out all the ways that Sen. McCain has embedded his foot in his mouth (only, he’ll be relatively nice about it), he’ll tell us why it would be absolutely disastrous if Sen. McCain were to be elected. He’ll challenge us to do everything we can to stop it, to talk to our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers. And he’ll re-kindle the enthusiasm that carried him through the primary.

And every time Sen. McCain tries to claim that he isn’t ready to lead a country, he’ll point at this movement he’s created and led, and ask why the “great leader” McCain doesn’t have anyone to lead.

I guess this means I’m looking forward to the Convention.