Thursday, April 19, 2012

GOP Has the Money But We've Got the Feet!

The great secret of American elections is that YOU can beat the GOP's millions of dollars!

I've said it before in postings, but I'll say it again. And this time I've got studies and Nate Silver (numbers expert of the NY Times) to back me up. When I wrote about this before, I was relying on my own observations and calculations from 25 years of running political campaigns.

So learn this, don't forget it, and  -  above all  -  GET YOUR WALKING SHOES READY! The big secret is: The precinct worker can beat the GOP super pac millions.

Corporations may be "people" in Romney's view, but corporations can't walk precincts. And their millions spent on TVads, mailings, and robocalls are no match for the precinct worker.

According to a U of Denver study of the 2008 election, the Democratic precinct workers flipped three states from GOP red to Obama blue! That's real power, kiddo! To flip GOP red anything is an incredible achievement! These weren't close states; they were RED!

In addition, Nate Silver's study, done right after the 2008 election, shows that every 10 contacts an Obama volunteer made with voters gave Obama another 3 votes. That is a superb return on effort! Compare that with the success rate on campaign mailings: A "successful" mailing is one that gets a 5% result. By contrast Obama volunteers got a 30% result!

Therefore, if you walk a precinct for Obama, you will have effectively voted 30 times! Hell, that even beats the ballot-box stuffing of the bad old days in Chicago, home of the motto: "Vote Early and Often". Or the crap the GOP may try to pull this year in vote suppression and counting.

This is not really new news. We old campaigners have always known this about precinct work. But beginning in about 1984, political paid professionals took over election campaigns. They get paid for spending money, e.g. a salary plus a 10 or 15% commission on the paid advertising budget. That's quite an incentive to emphasize TV and downplay the ground game. Additionally, a lot of those paid pros confessed to me that they HATED dealing with volunteers and thus hated dealing with precinct operations. So precinct walkers began to disappear. Buttons disappeared. Bumper stickers disappeared. Local headquarters run by local people also disappeared. Grassroots politics gave way to the artificial turf of heavy-spending pros running incredibly expensive campaigns. Needless to say, the vested interests had no trouble persuading candidates to meet these newly-soaring expenses by swapping influence for big donations.

Everybody complains about corruption of our election system. But the same everybody -  or a reasonable number of them  -  can "take the money out of politics" or significantly reduce it. It's simple, folks:  precinct operations cost NEXT TO NOTHING! Take the money out of politics by putting your feet in it!

So win this one for Obama by walking a precinct. Win one for American democracy by overcoming the money monopoly on campaigns.


And may I ask you to win this one at least in tiny part for me? I'll be 76 in a couple of months and may never see another presidential campaign. I've given lots of my life to Democratic politics, right up to when the big-time paid pros stomped on our grassroots politics. In 1984 I ran the last and only locally operated, on-the-cheap Democratic grassroots campaign headquarters in all of California. The paid pros and the fat-cat fund raisers fought me tooth and nail, including abusive and threatening midnight phone calls. They even tried to get the police to shut down our headquarters. But we fought on and did our job and won our large county for the Democrats when all around us other counties went for the GOP.

With Obama in 2008, I saw the grass grow anew in grassroots politics. That's part of why I really love this man. Grassroots politics is COMMUNITY! It's good for the people. It's good for America!

Don't let me die without knowing that grassroots political  campaigning is really back, that 2008 wasn't just a one-time thing. For unless you walk for Obama, I'm coming back from the grave to kick your lazy butt and break your knees!

So let me R.I.P. And earn yourself a good night's sleep post-election, free of an old lady's ghost and free of your own guilty conscience.

P.S. There will be a future posting on how to open and run a campaign operation for Obama and/or other Democratic candidates in case there are no headquarters in your area. You'll have the time of your life!



  1. I'm an supporter of President Obama; however, I'm reluctant to volunteer time and money like I did the last time. When I was going door to door, in Wisconsin, I got complaints from homeowners that said they were irritated with the frequent visits from volunteers: all of them democrats. Those complaints were coming from dyed-in-the-wool democrats.

    When I complained to our precinct manager. He told me that a few complaints from our base was normal. Although I admired the leadership of the precinct I was not happy with that answer. I continued to trudge-on throughout the rest of the campaign but never again. Chuck.

    1. If Democratic volunteers are repeatedly going to Democratic households, something is possibly wrong with the precinct work. The key point of precinct work is to identify voters who support your candidate so that - on Election Day - you and your organization can besure that these voters turn out. This second part, the "get-out-the-vote phase" doesn't require a second trip to the voter's door. It's done by checking at the polling place on Election Day to see who has and has not yet voted, typically beginning at about 4 p.m. Followup of the not-yet-voted (who have said they'll vote Democratic) is done by phone. Perhaps in your precinct some other Democratic operations were under way earlier than what I describe, e.g. registering Democrats, soliciting early voting, working for other Democratic candidates. Or maybe there's some new esoteric method the Obama campaign believes works better than the classic operation I describe. I can sure understand your dismay when fellow Democrats were not annoyed to see you, and I admire your persistence in "trudging on". But may I make two points. Yes, some householders complained. But Obama won Wisconsin. By contrast, absent such precinct effort in 2010. we got our ass kicked badly in Wisconsin. Second, even if people threw tomatoes at me as a precinct worker, I'd be out there this year OF ALL YEARS, Charles, because SO MUCH IS AT STAKE. The Supreme Court appointments. The economy (which Romney Republicanism will tank yet again). Any hope of slowing global warming. Possibly war with Iran, and Israel bounding in with nukes. And lots of etceteras. Please, you good man you, trudge on again this year. You aren't going door-to-door, I'm sure, to be loved. You're trying to save this country and our future and our planet one door at a time. But I'm sure you know that. And when the hour comes, you'll be there. It's an honor to know you, and it gives me hope in a very difficult time.

  2. Okay, Okay, I'll do it. Only because I remember the caliber of people I worked with in 08. I remember how the UAW opened up their offices and let us work out of there. Most of all I remember the Republican voter telling me he wished his party had the spirit and fire that the Obama campaign has.

    It's time to kick the tires and light the fires!

    1. I knew you were a hero! I just knew it! I'd like to mention you as such in a posting I'll be doing soon. Because people should know the calibre of folks like YOU! Especially since the news today was that a super pac has just unleashed the first $6 million in ads smearing Obama in some of the swing states. The battle is on! So go get 'em, tiger! And thanks from an old lady whose hopes are all wrapped up in you and people like you. Now I've got a reason to keep getting up in the morning. Bless you!

  3. I look forward to reading it. The Democratic Party is very well organized in Wisconsin. I enjoyed the months that I worked with them during the 08 campaign. I have memories of election day that would bring a tear to your eye. It was a very full day of getting out the vote.

    The Campaign directors found a precinct in Milwaukee that had some several no-shows at the polls. So all the surrounding precincts converged on that one area of the city and blanketed it with a rigor of a military operation.

    Any way here is a link to the celebration party.