Friday, October 03, 2008

I think you're going to need a bigger boat.

The fellows at FiveThirtyEight have been cruising around the battleground states, checking out the ground operations of the campaigns to get some grasp of the state of the ground game to complement their polling anaylsis, (which is excellent). Apparently, despite their stringent attempts to be fair and impartial, the McCain people decided to lock them out from visiting their field offices. They are less than impressed with the McCain ground game right now:
Up to this point, we’ve been giving McCain's ground campaign a lot of benefit of the doubt. We can’t stop convincing ourselves that there must – must – be a warehouse full of 1,000 McCain volunteers somewhere in a national, central location just dialing away. This can’t be all they’re doing. Because even in a place like Colorado Springs, McCain’s ground campaign is getting blown away by the Obama efforts. It doesn't mean Obama will win Colorado Springs, but it means Obama's campaign will not look itself in the mirror afterward and ask, "what more could we have done?"

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.

Here on out, our skepticism is going to be higher. We truly respect organizers on both sides, because it is grindingly hard work for minimal pay. It’s powered by a belief in doing what’s right. We do not quote them or get them in trouble. Moreover, we truly respect direct action by volunteers – who do exist on the McCain side, just as a tiny, tiny fraction of the Obama side – but if the attitude continues on this unhelpful and obstructive turn, we’re going to spend less time making excuses for what we observe. Less benefit of the doubt. Show us real work and we'll cover it. We want to.

The FiveThirtyEigtht guys are mostly focused on the Presidential races in this post, but I think it's worth pointing out that door to door campaigning and volunteer phonebanking have significant impact on downticket races. Couple this with the registration gaps that are popping up, and if I'm a GOP political functionary, I might seriously consider booking that flight to a country with weak extradition laws.

P.S. All the usual caveats about voter fraud apply.

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