Hello Everyone,

As the clock winds down to Election Day, I feel the need to write about two things: 1) why I think President Obama will be reelected and 2) one of the primary reasons I think he should be.

Why President Obama Will Be Reelected

Last time, the presidential election seemed to be largely inspirational. I think it was also technical – especially in the primaries.  This time, I think the general election is largely technical. That’s why I think the President will win, even though it’s hard to be inspirational the second time around.

2008 Primary
In the 2008 Democratic primary, Sen. Obama and his team were singularly focused on amassing Pledged Delegates, even as his opponents’ or the press’ attention was diverted to all manner of other things.

I remember how in the 2008 primaries, which proved more determinative than the general, the Obama campaign exhibited a clearer understanding of the hybrid election/caucus process than its opponents and were incredibly disciplined and focused on aggregating Pledged Delegates, not Super Delegates or popular vote totals. They knew that Pledged Delegates were awarded proportionally, often by congressional districts or counties, unlike the Republicans who awarded delegates on a state-wide, winner-take-all basis. (See Obamagrams #22 and #22, written in March 2008, when I introduced my “Baseball Rules” analogy.)

Obama’s people focused on establishing more field offices in the right places and earlier than their rivals. It’s state-of-the-art on-line fundraising system was a source of money, but perhaps more importantly it served as a means to collect email addresses, recruit volunteers, and get real commitments for votes (once you gave any amount, even $2, psychology says you were probably hooked.) These were all the boring, blocking-and-tackling, nitty-gritty details which got virtually no press. As I recently heard someone say, it was a “technical” way to win a nomination.

On June 4, 2008, I wrote in #28:

On this morning after a milestone – when Barack went over the top in delegates and rightfully claimed the Democratic presidential nomination — it seems fitting to offer a brief coda.

It feels really good that the world now knows what I have suspected for 2 years and known for 3 ½ months – that Barack would win the nomination…

…despite all the media blabber, this game was over on Feb. 19 – about 3 ½ months ago.

Sen. Obama ultimately accumulated 52% of the Pledged Delegates to Sen. Clinton’s 48%.

2008 General Election
In the 2008 general election, the Obama team seemingly decided to run a national campaign unlike this time. In September 2008, I wrote in #32:

Switching to a football metaphor [from baseball] since it is almost fall; I think the real story in this election will be about the vast superiority of Barack’s “ground game.” I predict the media will have little to say about it. Too boring.

As the legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes knew, “3 yards and a cloud of dust” may be boring, but it certainly wins football games.

Employing the same community-organizing and social-networking skills they used to prevail in the primaries and caucuses, the Obama campaign once again has a vastly superior ground game. Barack has 2,400 people on his payroll, the great majority of whom are in field offices. He has more offices in Pennsylvania (60), and as many offices in Ohio (50) as Sen. McCain has nationwide (50.)

Sen. Obama won 54% of the popular vote but far exceeded the 270 electoral vote hurdle with 365, or 68% of the total.

2012 General Election
In this 2012 general election, President Obama and his team know that it is all about electoral votes. Getting to 270. Period. It’s not about the polls, the popular vote, T.V. debates, or anything else.

I think they will be as good at collecting electoral votes this time as they were at collecting Pledged Delegates last time.

The President may not like the system, but he didn’t set the rules for 2008, and he didn’t set them for 2012. But, he and his people have demonstrated that they learn the rules and play by them better than others. Three times in our history a president has won the Electoral College vote and lost in the popular vote – in 1876, 1888, and 2000. That is far from ideal, but those are the rules.

His campaign understands that electoral votes are awarded on a state-wide winner-take-all basis, unlike the 2008 Democratic primary. It understands that only 7 states matter, not 50. So, they’ve adapted. The central question is whether they have done that better than the Romney campaign.

In contrast to the famous (or famously wrong, in my view) admonition, “It’s the economy, stupid,” this time, “It’s about the electoral college, stupid.”

According to a recent article in The Atlantic (see Attachment), President Obama has more than 800 [field offices] across the country – concentrated, of course, in the swing states:

Romney commands less than half that number. In the swing states, the gap is stark…in what are generally considered the top three…Ohio, Florida and Virginia [President Obama has 298 offices compared to 117 for Gov. Romney]…

Four years ago, Barack Obama built the largest grassroots organization in the history of American politics. After the election, he never stopped building, and the current operation, six years in the making, makes 2008 look like “amateur ball”, in the words of Obama’s national field director Jeremy Bird.

Think, too, of the campaign’s emphasis on early voting, including the President’s very visible vote here in Chicago last week. I understand that in the swing states, in some cases, the campaigns are actually bussing supporters directly from rallies to early voting locations, another nuts-and-bolts tactic.

Because of all these factors, I believe that the President will be reelected next Tuesday, but I can’t prove it.

                                                                           Why The President Should Be Reelected
Last Friday night, I had the privilege of introducing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for a talk he gave at the University of Chicago. It reminded me again of President Obama’s relentless focus on education, just one of the many reasons I believe he should be reelected.

The Secretary spoke at a session of our newly-established UChicago Careers in Education Professions program, which I have helped to shape and support. Its purpose is to enable UChicago College students to explore the possibility of pursuing a career in education and, if interested, help them to reach that goal. Our large ambition is to truly professionalize teaching and related fields, by encouraging some of our best students to enter them, thereby enhancing the status of education careers.

It is noteworthy that Amherst College and Grinnell College are simultaneously starting or considering starting similar programs.

For some time, President Obama has said that the U.S. needs to “out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build” our competition. I wrote about that in #58 in September 2011. Some have complained that the President hasn’t proposed any “big ideas” for his second term. In my opinion, there are no bigger – or important – ideas than these, especially out-educate.

As many have said, and Secretary Duncan repeated on Friday night, education is the civil rights issue of our time. But, it is not only a social justice issue. It is an economic issue – the key to our global competitiveness and social mobility.

Like out-organizing your opponent in an election, betting on education is not a “new” or seemingly “blockbuster” idea. But, organizing and electoral votes win elections and education is the key to our economic future and social fabric.

All to say, I think that the President will be reelected on Tuesday and should be.

Please, as always, pass it on. And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com

Chuck

adobe pdf file

 Attachment – The Atlantic – 10-2012

 

 

Comments are closed.