Trouble for Obama's Ground Game in Virginia

In the vital state of Virginia, where Obama has set his sights on wresting the Commonwealth away from the Republicans, the Democrat is sparing no expense in setting up an enormous ground operation with a reported paid staff that will eventually reach 1000.

But there is more to having a good ground game than blanketing the state with offices and people. This old hand writing at 538 explains:

A good field plan has 2-3 elements to it including direct voter contact (door-to-door, which I enjoy and try to use as much as possible and phone calls, which I hate and generally outsource as much as possible), house parties/meet and greets, and neighborhood organization.

"The most important part is knowing your community leaders and using them to help build an organization around your candidate. From what I gather, this is probably what ultimately hurt him in New Hampshire, since that is a place where people take their role as community leader/opinion maker very seriously.

"The problem (as I see it, and others I know) is that Obama's campaign isn't tapping into existing Democratic community leadership, and is actually actively working around them.

"At least that seems to be the case in Virginia. In a town that voted 70% for Obama (Richmond) I hear a lot of grumbling from community leaders about his campaign.

"Anyway, as for direct voter contact, I think they are setting their canvassers up with really ridiculous expectations -- they think they are going to change minds one at a time at the door, and when, in rural Virginia, they are actually met with people who may (shock!) disagree with them, they get either discouraged or take it upon themselves to try and spend all day convincing them."


There is no doubt Obama has the money to compete on the ground in every state in the union. The question becomes how smart is that money being spent? Political experts will tell you that the most a good ground game will get you on election day is 2-3% - which in Virginia could make a difference but in most states, not.

It doesn't appear at this stage that Obama is going to get that 2-3% bump - if things continue the way they are and Obama staffers don't wise up and play ball with the locals.

That too, could make the difference - for John McCain. 

Hat Tip: Rich Baehr


In the vital state of Virginia, where Obama has set his sights on wresting the Commonwealth away from the Republicans, the Democrat is sparing no expense in setting up an enormous ground operation with a reported paid staff that will eventually reach 1000.

But there is more to having a good ground game than blanketing the state with offices and people. This old hand writing at 538 explains:

A good field plan has 2-3 elements to it including direct voter contact (door-to-door, which I enjoy and try to use as much as possible and phone calls, which I hate and generally outsource as much as possible), house parties/meet and greets, and neighborhood organization.

"The most important part is knowing your community leaders and using them to help build an organization around your candidate. From what I gather, this is probably what ultimately hurt him in New Hampshire, since that is a place where people take their role as community leader/opinion maker very seriously.

"The problem (as I see it, and others I know) is that Obama's campaign isn't tapping into existing Democratic community leadership, and is actually actively working around them.

"At least that seems to be the case in Virginia. In a town that voted 70% for Obama (Richmond) I hear a lot of grumbling from community leaders about his campaign.

"Anyway, as for direct voter contact, I think they are setting their canvassers up with really ridiculous expectations -- they think they are going to change minds one at a time at the door, and when, in rural Virginia, they are actually met with people who may (shock!) disagree with them, they get either discouraged or take it upon themselves to try and spend all day convincing them."


There is no doubt Obama has the money to compete on the ground in every state in the union. The question becomes how smart is that money being spent? Political experts will tell you that the most a good ground game will get you on election day is 2-3% - which in Virginia could make a difference but in most states, not.

It doesn't appear at this stage that Obama is going to get that 2-3% bump - if things continue the way they are and Obama staffers don't wise up and play ball with the locals.

That too, could make the difference - for John McCain. 

Hat Tip: Rich Baehr