Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Signs of the Apocalypse

And by "apocalypse," I mean for the other candidate.

I've been informally tallying the signs around town. I've now seen several dozen for Obama, including in neighborhoods populated by older folks where people tend to be more conservative, though still Democrats. (My little town seems to aspire to an East Bloc-style single-party system.)

I've seen one brave and lonely sign for McCain.

I've seen none for Clinton. But I know for a fact that at least one friend of mine (and occasional partner in political mischief) would love to put up a Clinton sign, if she could only get her hands on one. (We've agreed to disagree on this, though it feels strange; we're almost always in sync politically.) Rumor has it that Clinton's people – and signs – were supposed to arrive toward the end of this week.

So why does this admittedly unscientific survey of signs and portents matter? Frank Rich had a marvelous New York Times column this weekend in which he assailed Clinton's campaign for its poor ground game. Rich suggests that if Clinton can't run a competent campaign, it's not a great recommendation for putting her in charge of the United States government:
In the last battleground, Wisconsin, the Clinton campaign was six days behind Mr. Obama in putting up ads and had only four campaign offices to his 11. Even as Mrs. Clinton clings to her latest firewall -- the March 4 contests -- she is still being outhustled. Last week she told reporters that she "had no idea" that the Texas primary system was "so bizarre" (it's a primary-caucus hybrid), adding that she had "people trying to understand it as we speak." Perhaps her people can borrow the road map from Obama's people. In Vermont, another March 4 contest, The Burlington Free Press reported that there were four Obama offices and no Clinton offices as of five days ago. For what will no doubt be the next firewall after March 4, Pennsylvania on April 22, the Clinton campaign is sufficiently disorganized that it couldn't file a complete slate of delegates by even an extended ballot deadline.
(Original is in the New York Times, but the version at Alternet won't require you to register. The whole article is well worth reading.)

Clinton's Ohio operation seems to be equally lagging, if my town is representative. And even if it's not, she's missing an opportunity here. Though my town itself is rife with students and the over-educated (core Obama constituencies), its poor Appalachian environs are populated mostly by people who demographically belong to her base.

To be fair, Bill Clinton did come here to speak (as will Michelle Obama tomorrow). But a single star-powered appearance can't fully substitute for a tight, enthusiastic get-out-the-vote effort. Obama's crew hopes to knock on 3000 doors here over the weekend, and with the hordes of students lining up to help, I bet they'll come close to their goal. His staffers opened an office here a couple of weeks ago already.

[Correction: It's 30,000, according to my source, Rence, whom I thank for setting me straight. Gotta love those order of magnitude errors. Now you know why I'm not a chemist or physicist.]

Obama's campaign is only words? You be the judge.

Photo of the Obama sign by me, in front of my house. I swapped an old vacuum cleaner (on loan) for it so the poor staffers hopefully won't have to continue working in the midst of dreck. It was a small price, even if the vacuum meets its demise.


Rence said...

Actually, we're knocking on 30,000 doors this weekend. I don't know what the total area of those doors are, but they will all be knocked on out of the Athens office.

Apart from having 25 offices and even more staging locations across the state, the campaign has had over one million unique donors and is knocking on one million doors in the state of Ohio this weekend.

The ground game is amazing and it has made this campaign what it is.

Sungold said...

Thanks, Rence. You guys rock. And I am going to go hang my math-impaired head in shame.

Mollyfa said...

I have my fingers crossed for Ohio! G'obama!

Sungold said...

We'll do our best, Molly! The students (see previous comment) are amazing.

I am totally psyched that I'll get to hear Michelle speak tomorrow.