November 05, 2008

Obama's Organization

So much to be proud of.  One thing that stood out for me this morning, listening to the cacophony of commentary about "history in the making," is that we won a fair fight.  Obama had a better, more consistent message, incredible fund-raising, better debating skills (eventually), and perhaps above all, an incredibly solid organization.

One last story will illustrate my own experience, serving as I did as a tiny leaf in the giant organizational tree that was the Obama campaign. Tuesday morning I went out for one last day of volunteering, having let my colleagues know I was taking the day off.  I arrived at the meeting location at 8:15a, and by then there were so many volunteers that my precinct had already been given to another volunteer.  I took another one in the neighborhood (thankfully near a Starbucks).  A few people were home, all of them Obama supporters, most of them very nervous. I helped one woman locate her new polling location since the original location was closed.  The rest I just reassured, counting on Nate Silver's projections to hold. For those who weren't home I left door hangers with information about their polling station.

Returning to the meeting location, I looked at the grids on the wall listing all the precincts in the 46th District.  All of them had already been canvassed. Holy shit.  It wasn't even 11a. I found Erica, the regional organizer. She said that I could call the people who hadn't been home and leave one last message, but then another organizer came over to say they already had people calling all of them.  There were at least 500 volunteers in just this corner of Seattle. "Would you like to have lunch?" Erica asked.  "We have volunteers with turkey sandwiches."

In the end I went back to work, to the great consternation of my colleagues.  But at that point, it was done. All those volunteers over all those months had done their work.  Chris Gregoire, a good governor and a terrible campaigner who won four years ago by just 133 votes after two recounts, would ride to victory on Obama's coattails with a very safe margin (more than 130,000 votes with 64% reporting, and the margin likely to grow as King County comes in).

As so it was in so much of the country, where Democratic governors (seven), senators (at least five), and representatives (at least 19) gained ground thanks to a favorable political climate and thanks to the Obama organization.  What was maybe even overkill in Washington State was decisive in swing states: in Virginia, in Nevada, in Indiana?!?!, in Ohio, in Florida, and elsewhere.

I guess Obama's experience as a community organizer was worth something after all :)

By Will Friedman in Election '08 | Permalink  | 


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