As momentous as the possibility of a perfect 19 game seasons is (Go Pats!! Go hit ’em, thuggish Rodney Roid!), Tuesday’s Super is way more momentous than today’s, not least because it’ll have significant input over whether we send the first woman or the first African-American to the White House, and because either one promises to start our painful recovery from the Bush disaster.
But the story most people are telling is still missing the equivalent of Bill Belichick’s pre-game film analysis. Though it has arguably been decisive in all four non-Clusterfuck Democratic contests thus far, few people are talking about ground game. Obama out-performed polls (except one) in Iowa and South Carolina (the latter by an astounding amount); what appeared to make the difference was real grass-roots mobilization–and effective execution–among many who had been largely disaffected in the past. Hillary’s win in NH was at least partially her GOTV. And her win in NV can be attributed to a combination of her own ground game and Obama’s failure to make the most of union support. Ground game is the story of this election thus far.
Now, there’s one big reason why you’re not hearing about ground game. The teevee networks, which still largely set the narrative of the election, cannot sell "ground game." They can sell ads that appeal to women or African-American voters, their insider pundits can either rail for or against the Big Dog and provide value to the network that way. But they have no product to sell called "ground game." As a result, it’s simply not part of the story.
But it’s more than that. Perhaps for this very reason, the media have missed another big story–what has happened to the ground game over the last four years.
When I was at the "No News Is Good News" conference in Boston, one of the participants (I think I remember who it was, but I’m not positive so he’ll remain nameless) said,
If I had to choose between us [the media] picking the President or the County Chair picking the candidate in a smoky room, I know which one I’d pick.