Obama Campaign’s Take: We’re Doing What We Need To

I’m listening to an Obama campaign conference call on the state of the race. Some of the eye-popping details:

Sporadic and First-Time Voters Are Voting Early

I’ve been focusing on the early voting numbers, though the McCain team has questioned whether or not the high Democratic turnout really just amounts to voters who would have voted anyway coming out early.


The Obama campaign is quite confident that at least one fifth of these early voters are either first-time or sporadic Democratic voters–basically, the kind of voters that push outcomes into Gallup’s more Obama-friendly turnout model.

That optimism was particularly true of Florida, where David Plouffe thinks that a quarter of sporadic Democratic voters–people who didn’t vote in 2004–have already voted. He also noted that Florida has one of the largest pools of sporadic voters.

Hmm, I guess that’s another reason to bring Clinton and Gore to the sunshine state.


Not surprisingly, there were a number of questions about Arizona.

Plouffe didn’t commit to going to Arizona (sorry bmaz)–when referring to Saturday’s trip out west, he said only that they were going "back out west" with no details about locations (though the campaign has already released the schedule showing a Henderson, NV event followed by a Pueblo, CO event). He also said that, with the big map Obama has, it’s really tough getting every place they need to go. If they had "a few more days," he suggested, he might have made a visit to Arizona. 

He attributed the closing race in Arizona–indeed, Obama’s strength in the west more generally–to two things: western Latinos supporting Obama in large numbers, and suburban independents leaning towards Obama. (Note, he said of CO’s almost equally split early voting margins that he thought many of the Independents had voted Obama.) He also said, specifically, that a lot of sporadic voters in Maricopa (Phoenix metro area) are voting Obama. 

He emphasized the closing polls are real and that they might be able to pull this off.

Finally, Plouffe was very careful to note that the campaign’s new advertising in Arizona is all positive; I guess he’s heard McCain yell "get off my lawn" enough time he doesn’t want to infuriate him. 

Georgia and North Dakota

It was pretty funny. Plouffe also got asked about Georgia a lot. Every time he answered about these late-breaking states, Plouffe was careful to mention North Dakota, in addition to Arizona and Georgia (no one mentioned Louisiana, which had a poll yesterday showing a close race as well). Plouffe talked about the early work the campaign did in these states, which seems to be coming to fruition, particularly since they were the only campaign in the race.

And about that 35% turnout among African-Americans in Georgia’s early voting? Plouffe said they’re doing "extremely well" in early voting. I should say so. 

Why Bother?

Finally, Plouffe had a funny answer to the question "why bother" with these late-closing states, Arizona, North Dakota, and Georgia. 

Plouffe emphasized that they’re doing everything they need to in the big swing states. He emphasized that they’re just trying to accomplish the most important task–getting 270 electoral votes. He did say it would help Martin in the GA Senate race to have the presidential race close in that state.

But I don’t think Plouffe ever answered the "why bother" question. 

Me, I think they’re probably not going to visit Arizona because they don’t need it to win and they’re trying to be gracious with McCain. But I think they’re bothering to advertise there because the close race is real. 

Update: I confess, I came in late to this conference call. Joe Sudbay has a description of the "news" Plouffe led with: ad buys in GA, AZ, and ND.

On a conference call to give the state of the race, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe just announced that the campaign is going on the air in three additional states: Georgia, North Dakota and Arizona. The campaign has organizations on the ground in all of those states and has seen "movement."

In Georgia and North Dakota, the campaign will be running the "Rear view" ad. In Arizona, it’s the positive closer. 

38 replies
  1. drational says:

    But I don’t think Plouffe ever answered they “why bother” question.

    Maybe also because they have more money than they know what to do with…..

  2. NelsonAlgren says:

    Maybe also because they have more money than they know what to do with…..

    Are they expecting late arriving bills to take up what is left over? I hope they aren’t like Kerry who had $10 million left over. Are they pumping money into Senate races like Martin?

    • Mauimom says:

      Are they pumping money into Senate races like Martin?

      I am just crazy on this Senate issue. I want Obama to pour money into these Senate races and to appear to support Democratic challengers. [Re the House, I was gratified to see that he’s appearing in Cincinnati on Sunday. I hope he allows Vic Wulsin to be with him. We need to help her kick Mean Jean Schmidt’s sorry ass out of OH-2.]

      I’m just worried about a number of the Senate races — particularly ones, like Franken’s in MN — where there’s an independent running and attracting a fair percentage of votes. I fear those could skew Republican, and our Democratic challengers could go down. I’d like to see Obama focusing on shoring up Democratic support in those races.

      IrishJim @ 15: there are tons of races “lower down” on the ballot — and there’s always the “No on 8″ campaign in CA — who are much more hurting for $$$ than Obama. Perhaps you’ve got another $10 or so??

    • STTPinOhio says:

      How Obama might just win Ohio

      Went to vote yesterday at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (near downtown Cleveland) around 6:30 pm.

      Lots of people there, no long lines, but a constant flow of voters.

      Offhand, probably 75-80% Black.

      Poll workers were very helpful and courteous.

      For those who don’t frequent Ben Smith, here’s where I was.

      That picture was taken last Sunday when local churches were bringing people down by the busload.

  3. puravida says:

    “ad buys in GA, AZ, and ND.”

    Forcing McCain to answer with his own ad buys, where of course, he should have had these states sewn up long ago.

  4. jayt says:

    MSNBC had Mike McConnell, georgie and condi doing a presser this morning to “announce” that the next president has some mondo-scary problems looking at him.

    The Halloween Special?

    And just what was the purpose of that? A feeling that it hadn’t occurred to either candidate that there are foreign policy concerns? Well thanks, y’all.

    To their credit, MSNBC gave it about five seconds’ worth of coverage.

    • ratfood says:

      Maybe both sides will announce they’re pulling out of the race, issuing a joint statement like, “Nobody told us being president would be HARD.”

  5. Petrocelli says:

    They might be gracious with McCain or they might be running such a great stealth campaign that overt rallies are not needed in AZ.

  6. Palli says:

    This morning I wrote this under the McCarthy article (Most have been channeling my father… a minor victim of the period) I need to repeat it here.

    Last night my husband and I had voter watching training in Ohio…such a different tone than ‘04. Republican (Dems never did/do) watchers are not allowed to challenge in the polling place under the new law…In fact we don’t even know if there will be republican watchers. My assignment is 4 precincts in one polling place…a church…hope it has a community room because I despair seeing polls in churches. All the precincts in one place has to mean NE Ohio needs more poll watchers… Can you help in the battleground states?
    Call any Dem office and volunteer. AZ and Virginia and any new state now in play needs volunteer lawyers and citizens too. Out of state folk usually have to stay outside the polling station but, unlike Kerry day rain and sleet, it should be 65 degrees clear and sunny in OH. Outside work is also crucial.
    The lead Lorain County Obama lawyer introducing the session assumed we were all lawyers and was surprised to see most of us were artists, history academics, union members and homemakers.

  7. lllphd says:

    “Me, I think they’re probably not going to visit Arizona because they don’t need it to win and they’re trying to be gracious with McCain. But I think they’re bothering to advertise there because the close race is real.”

    this is my sentiment, exactly, ew. i suffered great grief from bmaz and cinnamonape because of it, and i certainly understood their fervor.

    but there it is. gracious. that is obama’s strength, and if he doesn’t need the ten votes, why rub mccain’s face in a loss?

    gracious. i WANT obama to be gracious. i WANT my president to be gracious!

    • DWBartoo says:

      Grace, style, class and wit …

      ‘Twould definitely would be nice for a ‘change’.

      As well as thoughtful, articulate and, hopefully, possessed of broad vision, a capacious imagination for necessary, innovative solution, a steady ‘hand’, a fully functioning conscience and a moral compass that won’t suffer declination owing to the huge piles of money, strategically placed along the way as ‘pitfalls’, ‘roadblocks’ or ’speedbumps’.

      • dakine01 says:

        Thank you for doing the Digg work.

        But you know that you can erase the title from the summary and actually put an explanation of what the post is about in there don’t you? That way, it can tell the folks surfing through Digg what the story is and bring more visitors to our shores around the Lake.

        Sometimes, even as descriptive as they may be, the title of a post is just not quite enough; especially when the titles sometimes get truncated.

        Just saying.

    • bmaz says:

      Let him be gracious in your own state. I want him to WIN my state. The meek and gracious shall inherit the earth, and I am tired of eating dust as a result of a “let’s just try to eke out a win” baloney. To hell with being “gracious” in Arizona; what a cowardly pile of useless bull. We are here to be won; looks like it will be John McCain doing the winning thanks to all the grace. Obama can shove grace right up his southside; I want to win and I want desperately for the downticket candidates to have that chance.

      • RevBev says:

        Wow…I do not exactly have that animus (not my state) but I do not want him to take any chances, “leave any stone unturned” either. No risk: I heard this morning MO is still looking McUgly and it is always thrown out as the belleweather state. Take NO chances.

      • DWBartoo says:

        That make a LOT of sense, bmaz.

        Especially as it DOES matter how the ‘downticket’ candidates do.

        Let us dispense with obsequious ‘politeness’, beforehand …

        We can be gracious AND magnanimous AFTER we win decisively.

        Wouldn’t THAT be ‘nice’(as in “It’s about time, dammit!”) … for a ‘change’?

      • lllphd says:

        bmaz, loves ya buddy, but you. are. scaring me.

        that is not anything like a rational tone you’re using there. so unlike you.

        that tone is ugly, it’s vengeful, and it’s hateful. it may be righteous, it may be justified, it may even be legal.

        but it is ugly and vengeful and hateful, and it does not become you.

        grace, my man; and patience.

        when you put winning at the pinnacle of life the way you are doing here (dare i say it?) you sound like god damn karl rove.

        please. i beg of you for the umpteenth time – get a grip.

        • bmaz says:

          I’ll repeat one more time. We are citizens here too, not just freaking numbers. We should count as much as any other state. Why should we get the short shrift just to be “nice” to fucking John McCain. He has screwed this state enough for the last 26 years. I am tired of taking it in the shorts for that ass. I wouldn’t deny you equal attention and love during an election, why do you think it appropriate to do so to me? What the hell did we in Arizona do to deserve such scorn? There has not been one lousy visit to my state from anybody during the general campaign; how many did your state get?? Why are we not entitled to anything at all? And why should I accept being nice to John McCain as as acceptable excuse for that? I refuse. And I would NEVER be so arrogant as to ever make such an argument to you if the circumstances were reversed.

  8. sunshine says:

    I hope Obama stops in Arizona. Dems need to go to red states so they can hear a new and different perspective and break up the monoploy of red states. Because our Primaries lasted so long it got many more involved and they need some attention too.

    Here’s a Halloween video from Bruce Springsteen. Enjoy!


  9. NorskeFlamethrower says:


    Citizen emptywheel and the Firepup Freedom Fighters:

    Thank you for the glimps into whats goin through the “brain trust” in the Obama general staff. As a foot soldier who has been out on the turf in my small burg and in the county for the last 5 weeks, everything that Plouffe said is consistent with what we’re hearin thru our local organizer. Also, havin’ some wee bit of experience with ground game canvassing and GOTV efforts goin back as far as John Tunney in California (back when men were men and the women still knew better) I hafta say that the organization, local information mechanics, logistics and coordination with state and local campaigns is absolutely astounding. I got back in the game in 2004 and was horrified at how out dated the targeting and voter ID info was both locally and state-wide and how poorly trained the orgaizers were…the Obama campaign has brought the party fron the 19th century into the 21st in four short years.

    So I want everyone who hasn’t seen it to watch the “positive closer”…this is what I’m seein on the ground out here…Obama is closin the deal this weekend, folks, this thing is not gunna be close…better get a couple a pictures of any Republicans in yer area before Tuesday ‘cuz they’ll be hard ta find by Wednesday mornin’.


    • RevBev says:

      Your lips to God’s ears….I swear I hope you’re right. I was so depressed after 2000, in a way that I never quite got over ’cause things kept getting worse; can’t do it again/not anymore. Thanks.

  10. IrishJIm says:


    I just chipped in again for the Obama campaign. I had to wait until I got paid today. I am sure they can still use some $$$$$. They have a web special going if you give more than $30, they will send you a cool “Change” T-Shirt.

  11. ratfood says:

    That Louisiana poll appears to be an outlier. The TMP poll tracker is still showing McCain with an 11 point lead. It always strikes me when someone such as a pollster comments that a lower turnout favors McCain, in other words, the antithesis of Democracy.

  12. Waccamaw says:

    O/t –

    C-Span2 running program on Interrogation and the Law w/Amnesty International.

    Caught part of it earlier and think y’all would find it interesting.

  13. radiofreewill says:

    In Yacht Racing, the Key to Winning is to Maneuver relative to your opponent so that You Keep the Wind Advantage.

    What this means in actual practice is a two-step process:

    – Winning the Start to Get the Lead
    – Keeping Your Opponent in-or-behind Your Exhaust Wind

    This Strategy sets-up the Tactics, which, Skillfully-Used, bring Success 100% of the time, even for Boats that are Naturally Slower than their Opponents.

    Where teams Go Wrong in Yacht Racing is when they depart from the Strategy, for whatever reason. The Classic Example is from the Challenger Series (the Citizen’s Cup) for the 1995 America’s Cup Races.

    That year, there were three boats Challenging to take-on the then-current Cup-holder, New Zealand: Young America, Mighty Mary, and Stars-and-Stripes.

    Of the three challengers, Stars-and-Stripes was the Concensus Slowest Boat. But, Stars-and-Stripes was Captained by Dennis Connor – arguably the Greatest Sailor Our Country has ever produced – and he kept it close enough, through Great Starts and good Tactical Maneuvering, that the Challenger Series came down to a Knock-Out Race against Mighty Mary, crewed by a Mostly Female Team that was Poised for History-Making Greatness.

    In the Knock-Out Race, it was Mighty Mary that had a Great Start and Took the Lead. Employing the Time-Tested and Proven Tactical Plan of Denying Stars-and-Stripes the Wind, Mighty Mary legged-out to a 4-Minute Lead by the time she rounded the Buoy onto the Final Leg.

    In Sailing, a 4-Minute Lead in the Final Leg is like Being Up 4 Touchdowns in the 4th Quarter of a Football Game – nobody blows a lead like that!

    So, Connor rounds the Buoy into the Final Leg and figures he Needs A Miracle: He needs Mighty Mary to Stop Covering him, so he can take advantage of any Changes in Wind Direction, which he Has to Have for any Hope of a Win.

    The Final Leg of the Race ran down the ‘right’ side of the Course towards the Finish Line, and Mighty Mary had a Nearly Straight Shot to get there. So, tacking left, Stars-and-Stripes began moving out towards the center of the Course – away from the Finish Line.

    At first, Mighty Mary tacked left, also, to Cover the Wind and Keep the Advantage, but with the Finish Line in sight they then Tacked Right – Breaking Cover – in a bid to put the Coup-de-Grace to Connor.

    Stars-and-Stripes fell behind 40 Boat Lengths, putting them in a 4th and 400 situation – but, they got Un-fettered access to the Wind – which suddenly slacked into a 4-knot cross-wind that shifted ‘just enough’ to put Proud Mary into a Lull – Stalled-Out (they couldn’t tack right without going ‘outside’ the Course) within a quarter-mile of the Finish Line.

    Connor, otoh, was able to tack back towards the Finish Line and Lay-On the Sail.

    40, 35, 30, 25, 20, Stars-and-Stripes steadily closed the Gap – and there was Nothing Mighty Mary could do about it. Why?

    Because they didn’t follow the Yacht Racing Formula for Winning – they Broke Cover.

    Had they Maintained the Wind Advantage – even if it meant Sailing Away from the Finish Line to Deny Stars-and-Sripes the Wind – they would have Stayed in Position – in Front – no matter what happened.

    Instead, the impossible, the un-thinkable, happened – Stars-and-Stripes, the Slowest Boat, came All the Way Back and Won by 3 Boat Lengths – Dashing Mighty Mary’s bid for Greatness, and Sending them home Losers.

    The lesson here for US is: Don’t Let the Sight of Tuesday’s Finish Line ‘lull’ US into thinking We’ve Got This Won.

    When Obama is saying “We’re doing what we need to” – that means We have to Stay in the Boat with him and Keep the Wind out of McCain’s Sails.

    Everything else will take care of itself!

    Take Back America!

  14. Minnesotachuck says:

    Obama campaign manager David Plouffe just announced that the campaign is going on the air in three additional states: Georgia, North Dakota and Arizona.

    The two largest cities in North Dakota, Fargo and Grand Forks, are located right on the border of Minnesota. So ads airing there will be seen in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District, which is right across the Red River. Every little bit helps.

  15. Gitcheegumee says:

    Hanging Chad Guy leads army of lawyers in FloridaEwen MacAskill in Orlando The Guardian, Friday October 31 2008 A team of 5,000 volunteer lawyers representing the Democrats will fan out across polling stations in Florida next Tuesday to ensure the Republicans do not ”steal” the election, as – Democrats claim – George Bush did eight years ago.

    Heading the biggest team of lawyers ever assembled is Charles Lichtman, a partner in the Fort Lauderdale law firm Berger Singerman, who has been working as an unpaid volunteer for up to 18 hours a day since August. His drive comes from the experience of being what he describes as ”the Hanging Chad Guy”, leading a group of lawyers based in the infamous Broward County for weeks during the recount in 2000.

    ”Legitimate votes of citizens did not get counted. If they had been counted, we would not have been in Iraq and the economy would not have tanked,” Lichtman, 53, who is originally from Chicago, said. He vowed he would do his best to ensure it never happened again and began planning the operation that will be in place on November 4.

    Barack Obama’s campaign team has recruited thousands of volunteer lawyers to attend polling stations in battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, and other states where the vote could be close.

    But the biggest push is in Florida, in part because of its history and also because polls suggest the vote will be tight.

    The lawyers will be on hand to help any voters denied a ballot on spurious grounds, or fight to keep polling stations open late if they become overwhelmed by the expected high turnout. The Republicans will have their own lawyers across Florida too.

    So far, Lichtman said, there had been no serious problems, other than long queues – with waits of two hours or more – as people take advantage of the early voting that has been in place for the last two weeks. ”The only issue is the long lines but I think that is a good thing. It shows an enthusiasm for democracy. It is a great problem to have,” Lichtman said. He was not anticipating any major legal challenges from the Republican side.

    An Obama campaign worker in Florida, who requested anonymity because he had signed a pledge not to speak to the press, agreed that Republicans had not so far been mounting challenges to voter eligibility at polling stations.

    But that, he said, was because the Republicans in Florida had adopted a different strategy, passing legislation that set stringent rules on voter registration. As a result, people were disqualified if there were minor discrepancies, for example between the name on a driving licence and on a registration form.

    The Obama campaign worker, who comes from outside the state, said: ”I have never seen such shameless manipulation of a process as I have seen here.”

    Lichtman’s equivalent on the Republican side is Ed Pozzuoli, another Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer. Pozzuoli, 46, who was also involved in the Broward recount, yesterday described Lichtman as an old friend, even though they are on different political sides.

    Pozzuoli, a partner at the Tripp Scott law firm who was the lead Florida lawyer for Bush in the 2000 recount, would not say how many lawyers the Republicans would have in place on Tuesday. ”We will have enough,” he said.

    Also a volunteer, he expressed concern about the number of Democrat lawyers. ”Five thousand lawyers with nothing to do seems likely an ingredient for mischief,” he said. ”I was there in 2000 and the more lawyers the Democrats had, the more mischief there was.”

    The Republicans want everyone who is entitled to vote to be allowed to do so, he said. That meant the integrity of the process had to be protected.

    The legislation on registration did not apply to existing voters but only 300,000 new ones, and of those only a couple of thousand were at issue, including those with names like Mickey Mouse, Pozzuoli said. ”When you allow Mickey Mouse to vote, that diminishes everyone’s right.”

    Charlie Crist, the Republican governor of Florida, extended early voting hours this week by three hours a day, from 7am until 7pm

  16. sunshine says:

    Senator Obama Please Stop in Arizona.

    We weren’t that far behind the Rep’s in the primaries. Obama was the top Dem candiate.

    Feb 5 Arizona Dems 443,426 GOP 476,638 Down 33,212 in the primaries.

    2004 general Election Bush 55% Kerry 44%

    And they have a ballot issue about restructuring the Pay Day Loan companies.
    Let’s give those Rep’s the hot seat.


      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Well, it’s a thrill just to think of it being this close. One week ago, it didn’t seem possible.
        Thx for the updates — and FWIW, it’s nice to see the Obama campaign keeping people abreast of the changing schedule.

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