The Last Four Days


by Sunny
1st November, 2008 at 9:31 am    

It is difficult for me to convey the importance of the next four days to you folks, especially as its halloween tonight and Americans love celebrating this day and therefore I’m slightly drunk. Anyway. It’s 4 days until the election. For the Obama campaign its the culmination of 20 months of work and the next four days are perhaps the most important for an entire generation of American history. I maybe exaggerating, but there is still a lot riding on this.

Let me try and put this in perspective without giving too much away of what I’ve been told. I’m in California right now, and this deeply Democratic state is responsible for over 50% of the entire volunteer effort for the Obama campaign. Californians have fanned out from the state to other states and knocked on doors for the campaign in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri and even as far as North Carolina (as far as London to Prague). Californians have made over 50% of phone calls to other states encouraging people to vote or support Obama.

For the Democrats, this is the biggest GOTV (get out the vote) operation ever. I’m not kidding about this either – I’ve been on conference calls galore and this people are almost preparing for war. It’s impressive and I’m glad to just be here, witnessing it all.

The Big Day itself will be interesting too. Every two hours or so, the polling stations publish a list of people who have just voted over the last couple of hours. Obama supporters will be there copying names from that list and letting the central office know who have voted, so that supporters can be marked off the list and identified Obama supporters who haven’t yet voted are called to encourage them to vote. Hell, they even organise transport for those people. It is a sophisticated operation.

The Republicans are of course better at this, especially in the phone calling business. A contact in the business told me that Republicans mobilising effort is much more efficient: “Each Republican phone station in for instance, OHIO in their GOTV campaign, is uploading data from each call to a central server which then spits back a follow-up profile sheet on each person called.” Unfortunately, Democrats aren’t as quick on the info about potential voters as this…. but as I said earlier – thanks to Obama this is the biggest and the widest grassroots mobilisation effort the Democrats have ever attempted. They have plenty to learn from this, and during this campaign they have been trying new technologies to see how they can get to voters better. The good thing is – the number of Obama supporting volunteers far, far outnumber McCain supporting volunteers. How that impacts the election will be known in 4 days time. Until then there is an enormous amount of work to be done on the ground. The final sprint is always the hardest and it has just begun.


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  1. Refresh — on 1st November, 2008 at 11:42 am  

    Sunny,

    ‘ I maybe exaggerating’

    It could not be more important. Just watching the queues of early voters, interviews with people who dare not vote early in case their votes are ‘disappeared’ really does SHOW there is a fight that needs to be had.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. MaidMarian — on 1st November, 2008 at 1:59 pm  

    ‘Every two hours or so, the polling stations publish a list of people who have just voted over the last couple of hours. Obama supporters will be there copying names from that list and letting the central office know who have voted, so that supporters can be marked off the list and identified Obama supporters who haven’t yet voted are called to encourage them to vote. Hell, they even organise transport for those people. It is a sophisticated operation.’

    I’m sorry, but aren’t you the same Sunny that tends to go off on one about information/privacy issues? Or does it not matter when it is something you approve of?

  3. Indrak — on 1st November, 2008 at 4:17 pm  

    Far from being important, it is a struggle to decide this ‘effort’ between the lamentable and the ridiculous:
    analagous to the use of modern technology to dredge out the vestiges of oil deposits from a basin;
    or mechanically recovering meat from a factory-raised carcas

    Little is more obnoxiously pathetic than medial components aggrandizing events they happen to be in the midst of, in contrast to when they could have had a significant effect by refusing to be the obediant mouthpieces of the establishment as it lied about its plans to invade Iraq.

    ok, he’s better than the feeble twat who chose an oestrogenated Bush as VP, but get over it – unless you’re quite happy to play your part in smothering another generation in moronic delusions

  4. ac256 — on 1st November, 2008 at 9:53 pm  

    Halloween in the States is the absolute nuts. Most jealous.

    Despite occasional differences of opinion on this and other sites, i really think it’s critical that Obama wins so get in there Sunny son!

  5. Me — on 1st November, 2008 at 10:18 pm  

    Think your being wildly over optimistic. An Obama presidency will be less murderous than a Mcain one but will still be murderous. Lots of non-white non-Christian people will die though not as many as under Mcain

  6. Gege — on 2nd November, 2008 at 1:04 am  

    God bless Obama!

  7. Sunny — on 2nd November, 2008 at 1:36 am  

    I’m sorry, but aren’t you the same Sunny that tends to go off on one about information/privacy issues? Or does it not matter when it is something you approve of?

    It’s legally allowed. I’m not sure what your point is MM.

  8. Nyrone — on 2nd November, 2008 at 2:47 am  

    Sounds like a military-style operation.

    There was much talk at the Compass AGM today about how Obama has mobilised and energized folk in the states, and how his tactics and especially pioneering use of the internet/technology to raise money, communicate his message, recruit ETC has been something that campaign strategists are going to be studying closely for a while after the election, and that individuals in the UK could try and emulate/replicate in time.

    But, the obvious fact pointed out is that people are inspired by the personality of Obama and there is no such phenomenon-figure in the UK that people would demand quite the same following. So would the strategizing be quite as effective here?

    I do think that it’s interesting that though US Elections are unashamedly personality-driven, the issues are very much hammered out publicly quite well, whilst in the UK where we pretend it’s all about the policies, there seems to be frequently no talk of actual policies at all. Perhaps the personality is an acceptable vehicle for getting to the actual issues.

  9. Rayyan — on 2nd November, 2008 at 9:00 am  

    We won’t get the level of commitment from volunteers and the scale of campaigning operations here in the UK until we have mainstream party leaders that are as inspiring as Obama, and as skilled in communicating with the public.

    I cannot think of anyone on the front bench of either major party in the UK that a) could inspire people, and b) has a plan to win big. Find the leader, and you can build the campaign. Perhaps a new MP working their way on from the backbenches, maybe someone experienced but young, maybe someone who has yet to be called on to be an MP.

    The main issue is the culture of deference within British politics. No one who knows what it takes to win wants to be seen to fight the established leadership of either party – witness the tip-toeing of David Miliband at the Labour Party conference this year. Obama was able to beat his party’s de facto leadership (the Clintons) by appealing over their heads directly to the American people.

    Another factor is political circumstances. I would’ve said the country was ripe for Tory takeover just a few months ago, but it seems like Labour are recovering. British political history indicates that the people are only really inspired to vote for a different direction when things are very bad indeed: the destruction of the country after WWII was a major factor in the election of Attlee’s progressive government.

  10. digitalcntrl — on 3rd November, 2008 at 4:31 am  

    “Another factor is political circumstances. I would’ve said the country was ripe for Tory takeover just a few months ago, but it seems like Labour are recovering. British political history indicates that the people are only really inspired to vote for a different direction when things are very bad indeed: the destruction of the country after WWII was a major factor in the election of Attlee’s progressive government.”

    Would not your argument imply that given the financial shocks people would vote for a conservative govt now more than ever?

  11. MaidMarian — on 3rd November, 2008 at 2:53 pm  

    Sunny (7) – My point is this.

    If New Labour were to operate a political machine as you describe I would fully expect you would jumping up and down about it. My point is that since you started writing your letters from America all idea of political consistency seems to have gone out of the window.

    Personal abuse as an election tool? Why not! Breaches of privacy – fine and dandy! Politicians as pop-stars needing groupies? Great!

    Legal – of course it is, but so is smoking but it does not mean that smoking is a good idea. Previously, I thought that you had a very articulate and thoughtful idea of progressive. Not that I always agreed but still thoughtful and which made a real effort to reconcile the tough issues. Now ‘progressive’ seems to be not much more than ‘elect Obama.’ Crikey, it’s got to the point where I’d hope McCain wins just to see what your next letter from America would say!

    Now I am quite sure that the company you are currently keeping and the atmosphere you are in are pretty powerful stuff. Fair enough.

    But in a few months’ time you could do a lot worse that reread these articles. Brutally there is not much to be proud of – whatever happens in the election.

    Best of luck to you.

  12. sonia — on 3rd November, 2008 at 3:41 pm  

    its election fever…time of much craziness and the feeling of power within one’s grasp. how heady and intoxicating must that be?

  13. sonia — on 3rd November, 2008 at 3:49 pm  

    pick one side and root for them and all sort of stuff.

    who gets access to this data of who has voted?everyone at the polling station? is this a new thing following on from the florida debacle?

  14. Refresh — on 3rd November, 2008 at 6:24 pm  

    Actually MaidMarian, Sonia, there isn’t a question of the privacy issue being any different to the one on this side of the atlantic.

    The difference might be that the party officials receive a regularly updated ‘official’ list of voters. Sunny can confirm this point.

    Here in the UK, party workers often sit at the doors of polling stations and note down who has attended by asking the voters as they arrive. Usually people tend to bring their Polling Cards with them and their registration number is noted.

    This allows others to go back to people’s homes to remind them that they haven’t yet voted.

    If there wasn’t this type of ‘system’ then there would be very little point in organising to ‘get out the vote’. Nobody would know who needed knocking up*.

    How else could an electoral democracy operate?

    This may also go a long way to explaining Obama’s organisational abilities.

    Elections are not won without volunteers and workers on the ground; and this is what Blair tore down in his tenure at the Labour Party, relying more and more on paying call-centres to do the job.

    * Hope Russell Brand isn’t about!

  15. MaidMarian — on 3rd November, 2008 at 8:33 pm  

    ‘How else could an electoral democracy operate?’

    By leaving the voters and their data unmolested perhaps.

  16. Don — on 3rd November, 2008 at 9:16 pm  

    MM,

    A record has to kept of who voted in case of a claim of fraud. Records are sealed and can only be opened on instructions from a judge.

    Refresh is quite correct, I’ve spent a few evenings in church hall doorways asking to see people’s cards, only rarely does anyone decline. Every so often someone collects the data and compares it with known supporters so that we can harry the tardy.

    I didn’t that the information was officially released in the states. Probably more equitable. I don’t see it as sinister.

  17. MaidMarian — on 3rd November, 2008 at 9:27 pm  

    Don (16) – I don’t see ID cards as sinister, and think that most critics of them are over reacting, but there you go.

  18. Don — on 3rd November, 2008 at 9:43 pm  

    Oh, they’re definitely sinister – if you know how to read Revelation.

  19. Refresh — on 3rd November, 2008 at 10:11 pm  

    ‘if you know how to read Revelation’

    And if you read it correctly then you would see that its all about keeping your individuality and not being controlled like sheep.

  20. Refresh — on 6th November, 2008 at 7:43 pm  

    Here is a comment related to organisations of elections:

    ‘A Labour MP said today he did not know any of his parliamentary colleagues who expected his party to win the Glenrothes byelection.

    With voting still going on in the Fife constituency, Nick Palmer made his comments in a contributor to a discussion on the PoliticalBetting website.

    The MP said: “I don’t know any Labour MPs who are expecting us to win – the range of opinion is from “well, we’ve given them a run for their money” to “bloody by-elections, what can you expect?”

    Palmer, who is generally seen as a respected and fair-minded commentator on elections, said he thought the SNP had “got it in the bag”.

    He also expressed frustration with the local party in Glenrothes for not having up-to-date information about voters’ intentions. Parties need this information to campaign effectively, but often in safe seats activists do not feel the need to compile this data.

    Palmer said: “Once again we found that the level of canvass data was zero, and I don’t mind saying that I’m fed up with going to one byelection after another and finding that this is so often the case in safe seats.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/nov/06/byelections-gordonbrown

    I suspect the situation is worse for Labour, they just do not have the personpower to deliver the next election. A saving grace might just be that the Tories are in a similar position.

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