June 22, 2008

The NYT does a pretty lame Obama organization story [Karl]

Is this really the best the New York Times can do for the big Sunday edition?  The answer is “no,” if for no other reason than that the NYT has done better stories on Barack Obama’s campaign organization than this sleepwalker.

Camp Obama is still claiming that they will be running that 50-state strategy.  The New York Times did that story lamely two weeks ago — and it was still more enlightening than this morning’s piece, which again falls back to the usual:

Aides and advisers to Mr. Obama said they did not believe he necessarily had a serious chance of winning in many of the traditionally Republican states. They said he could at least draw Mr. McCain into spending time and money in those places while swelling Democratic enrollment and supporting other Democrats on the ballot.


There’s also a hunk about microtargeting, personalized GOTV and the extensive voter database Catalist — all subjects covered here, noting that the NYT did an eye-opening piece on Catalist back in April — an angle that is in no sense advanced by today’s piece.  Indeed, today’s piece reports that Camp Obama is considering buying data from Catalist when they are already a client.  They note that the campaign is interested in Catalist’s new data on cable TV viewers — but all the paper comes up with for examples are that MTV could reach young voters and BET reaches black voters?  No one in their right mind would be laying out serious bank for those revelations, but the NYT comes up with nothing juicy.

The article also chops up some of the more recent developments on the fundraising front and shoves them in various spots, perhaps to bury the news about Obama’s lackluster receipts in May.  That could very well be a temporary phenomenon caused by the strange lingering end of the Democratic primaries, as Team Obama suggests.  But with the Politico’s Ben Smith reporting that Obama has “been firing on all fundraising cylinders in June, courting large donors and small,” shouldn’t the Grey Lady have been able to ferret out a ballpark figure for the first three weeks of June?  And if that data is a closely held secret, shouldn’t that be the story?

Instead, the paper notes only that Camp Obama is looking to tap into money from Hillary Clinton’s supporters and that Obama will be personally attending fundraisers in the coming weeks.  The paper does not even address the angle the AP reported on Saturday regarding the degree to which Obama andd Clinton need each other on the fundraising front.  And neither the AP nor the NYT tells its readers — as the Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel, the HuffPo’s Tom Edsall, and even the NYT’s Jeff Zeleny already have — the financial details that make them strange bedfellows in this regard.

The NYT’s piece largely ignores Obama’s online fundraising machine.  The working assumption of Camp Obama — and most everyone else, myself included — has been that it can be switched back on for the general election, and perhaps mushroom with former Clinton supporters coming home to their party.  But it is possible that the machine may need some retooling. 

Obama’s protracted fight against Clinton gave both sides multiple rounds of primaries and caucuses to which each could peg their fundraising appeals.  There are inherently far fewer such events over the Summer doldrums and even in the general election.  Obama’s website is currently trying to sign up new donors, but the link for setting up an automatic monthly donation is buried near the bottom of the page.  Camp Obama might do well to study some of the devices Howard Dean used in 2004, like the fundraising “bat,” or events like those Ron Paul staged during this cycle, as possible ways that Obama could get those small donors to keep opening their wallets on a regular basis.

Update: If you want to read a good story on organization, the Cincinnati Enquirer has one on the candidates’ efforts in Ohio:

Four years ago, a swing of about 10 votes a precinct in Ohio would have wiped out President Bush’s 118,601-vote margin. And that would have meant we would all be talking and writing about President Kerry’s re-election campaign right now.

That’s how much an effective ground organization matters in a presidential campaign.

McCain, who locked up the GOP nomination, is playing catch-up to Obama, who started setting up his organization for the Ohio primary.  And while Gov. Ted Strickland has been Shermanesque in taking himself out of Obama’s Veepstakes, he has loaned Obama’s campaign Aaron Pickrell, the campaign manager who engineered Strickland’s 2006 win over Ken Blackwell.  See?  News.

Posted by Karl @ 9:35am

Comments (32)

  1. Obama=Biggie Smallz….Give Money!!!!

  2. Thank you, KK, for selecting and simplifying a NYT narrative concerning the honorable Senator Barack Obama and his historical Presidential election bid. Your nursery school approach is very useful for prototypical Republicans who like things uncomplicated and explained. Most radical hicks would never touch a seedy rag such as the NYT, so without your toil they’d remain fierce in ignorance without your labors.

    I shall forward your advice on fundraising to the Obama campaign. Their past failures in fundraising are well documented and you’d think they’d have hired you by now to right [sic] their failed operations. You own the path to glory, and they should be made aware of it.

  3. No one in their right mind would be laying out serious bank for those revelations

    Then that’s not what they’re doing.

    Maybe there’s someone there to whom that mass of cash is being directed…for whatever reason.

    If only we knew something about the people who run the place — that Ickes guy, say.

    But it’s all so opaque.

  4. thor,

    Reading before commenting helps. Words like “myself included.” A “what if” suggestion is not a criticism, which in this case was reserved primarily for the NYT. But your knee-jerk response is why people routinely dismiss you as a hack. At least your comment on public financing was funny.

  5. Unlike thor’s TI84 and BAII calculators, he has no off switch.

  6. See where I get mixed up, and I’m kind of embarrassed, but is the deal that if you want to support McCain what you do now is give your monies to the RNC or what? You can still make a recurring donation there at Mr. McCain’s site. But I thought the deal was he couldn’t raise more money in the general if he took public financing. How does this public financing thing work exactly? I know this is lame but for real I don’t get how this works.

  7. Thank you.

  8. Oh hey also.

    “It’s a great opportunity to get people information that may be particularly germane to them,” David Axelrod, the campaign’s
    chief strategist, said of the specialty cable commercials, perfected by Mr. Bush in 2004 Procter & Gamble like forfuckingever ago.

    Also, Kellogg’s does this for Eggo waffles, so no way this approach would have escaped Baracky I don’t think.

  9. Oh see that’s embarrassing. From the NPR I got the feeling that McCain couldn’t take donations no more. But I’m not gonna even try to really figure that out with the expenditure limits and all the nuances. It all seems pretty sketch really. What a fucked up system.

  10. The Presidential nominee of each major party may become eligible for a public grant of $20 million (plus a cost-of-living adjustment) for campaigning in the general election.7 To be eligible to receive the public funds, the candidate must limit spending to the amount of the grant and may not accept private contributions for the campaign.

    $20 million cap? I didn’t realize how bad McCain had fucked himself until just now.

  11. Comment by happyfeet on 6/22 @ 11:29 am #

    Oh see that’s embarrassing. From the NPR I got the feeling that McCain couldn’t take donations no more. But I’m not gonna even try to really figure that out with the expenditure limits and all the nuances. It all seems pretty sketch really. What a fucked up system.

    That’s what happens when government is involved in anything!

  12. – I still stand by my original assessment of this campaign. Best I can make out the general electorate is made up of something like 39% Dems, 43% Reps, with the rest distributed among Independents and all the splinter groups, although this election will probably reflect a growth in the Independent column, at the expense mostly of Reps since 2004.

    – Whom ever can woo the “others” group will win, although obviously its a much steeper climb for the Dems, both because they start out something like 4 to 5% down, and because every demographic they reach out to costs them some measure of an opposing demographic in some other venue.

    – Looking at the Reps and Independents, a very large number couldn’t tell a caucus from a cactus, and really aren’t interested. What they are interested in is how they “see” the candidate, as Karl pointed out, far more in terms of trust and sensible thinking. Recall Bush’s higher “A guy I’d have a beer with” rating over Kerry, who looked effete and uncomfortable out among the regu;ar Joes. Obama didn’t do himself any favors with that bowling catastrophe, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be scoring many “regular guy” points with the gun rack people.

    – Its those people, the ones that do not do politics, that simply sit in the tall grass and live their lives day to day, and when it comes time to vote come out and register their feelings that the whole picture settles down into pretty much a repeat of past elections.

    – The media will play games with the numbers to keep imnterest up as high as they can. Even FOX has switched the narrative from, “Obama did not get the expected sizable bounce from the prinaries we were anticipating”, to “Obama shows an impressive bump this week, coming on the heels of his win over Clinton”. Problem is the numbers, approximately +4% for Obama over McCain, are the exact same numbers from last week, and right on the edge of statistical error, so the hype machine is already in full force as they stare at the summer duldrums.

    – The biggest factors I see that could have any sizable effect on this election and change the typical +5 points for the Reps is the Convention, which seems to be only in the “hold the line” or lose catagory, which is of no benefit to Obama, and the debates themselves, where obviously a trouncing by either side could have a major effect, possible if it were bad enough against McCain, even give the nod to Obama.

    – Without those factors, this election would pretty much already be decided, but admittedly they are big ones.

    – Barring some totally unexpected breakout at the convention, O! will probably skate through with some embarrassing moments from the Hillery fems, but overall unscathed.

    – So it seems in the end it will all come down to how well McCain can handle himself and illuminate his opponents malaprop ideas and inexperience, that will be the decider. Me, I give the odds at 5 to 3 McCain, if he can stay alive long enough to get through the long grinding campaign.

  13. – I might also add that if the Democratic party keeps playing with fire on this oil mess, trying to hold onto their base by singing the climate change mantra over everything else, the Reps will be able to use it against them and leave the entire electorate “remembering” which side played ideological games that hurt them in the wallet come election day. That could have a devastating effect on Obama’s chances all by itself.

  14. BBH, then they’ll need someone better than Senator Lindsey Graham to articulate the point about the oil mess. (IMHO)From what I saw on “Meet the Press”, he got his clock cleaned.

  15. To go with his pipes.

  16. Comment by happyfeet on 6/22 @ 11:59 am #

    To go with his pipes.

    You got Elliot Spitzer’s phone number?

  17. Oh. Actually that was a gay joke cause Lindsey is a big fairy all the time and I should probably denounce myself but he’s just so icky even aside from the part where he pretends like he doesn’t absolutely live for big dicks. I just don’t have any respect for him at all.

  18. Oh. Actually that was a gay joke cause Lindsey is a big fairy all the time and I should probably denounce myself but he’s just so icky even aside from the part where he pretends like he doesn’t absolutely live for big dicks. I just don’t have any respect for him at all.

    You got Barney Frank’s phone number?

  19. Politics, a target rich environment!

  20. – Roboc, were that the deciding factor, the effectiveness of the counter narrative from the Reps, then it would be a stalemate. The Reps have shown a very poor ability to debate on any number of issues, particularly since 2006.

    – In this case I don’t think it matters. All the rhetoric is going to get buried under the simple glaring fact that people are hurting. In fact words are going to come to be viewed as a political way to forestall any real answers.

    – The longer this goes on, the worse it will be for the Dems if they stay in this stubborn stance they’ve adopted. This is one case where time is going to work against them, because its hitting everyone right in the face every day of the week, every time they fill up. Theres no where the Dems can hide. A few more weeks of this, while the Dems diddle and obstruct, and people are going to start looking for blood.

    – It doesn’t help the Dems cause, nor Obama’s, when he looks in the camera and lies outright with this totally wrong statement that opening up our reserves will not effect oil prices for 7 to 10 years. Our reserves are so massive that the day they announced the world oil prices would go boom. Thats why its called speculation, and a new massive resource coming into the market would have exactly the opposite effect that Obama is stating.

    – That sort of perfidy is going to really piss people off as they become more and more aware of who’s holding up the show.

  21. BBH, I agree with what you are saying. I just hope (there’s that fucking word again)wish the Republicans could represent their position better. Lindsey Graham looked pathetic defending himself against his own words. If the Democrats can persuade people that drilling for oil will take as long as developing alternatives, then they win the argument. People need to understand how long alternatives will take in terms of affordability(in regards to the majority of Americans), infrastructure, etc., to make a difference. Unfortunately, “sound bites” drive the media, leaving little in the way of honest policy discussion.

  22. – Again. Under normal circumstances I would toatlly agree. The Lefts propeganda would stall things out, and probably coupled with the weak sort of debating coming from the right, the Left would win by shere tenacity.

    – Not going to happen in this case. People are going to deal with this for just so long and then they’re going to run out of patience as they struggle with bills and having to make choices of what to cut out of their normal living standard.

    – when you start attacking the entire electorate in that way they will just stop listening and start screaming, and I don’t think we’re all that far from that point already. I think the Dems are already squeezing their knees together and hanging on.

    = They’re going to lose bad if they don’t turn around on this and starthelping instead of obstructing, and as I said if they go down on this, they could easily take Obama with them, because people will remember come election day. If McCain had a brain in his head he would be all over Obama about this three times a day like white on rice, so to speak.

    – If hes to slow witted, or wussy to see this opportunity, or shares some of the Lefts anti-Industrial views, then he doesn’t deserve the Presidency.

  23. Maybe we need a week or two of 1970 style gas lines(sans the disco music, platform shoes, etc.)!

  24. Interesting “Chicago way” piece by John Kass in the Trib.

  25. sans the disco music, platform shoes, etc.

    but that might make it even more effective.

  26. Convoy!.

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