Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chester County Reflections

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The days run together. I get up, I blog, I go to work at my real job, I come home, I see my canine companion, I work the campaign, I take a nap, I get up……Ed wrote about the staffer stress. I’m no staffer, but I can attest to the food problems. I was half-way through eating a donut, and it must have been unconsciously, since I don’t actually like donuts.

I made the worst persuasion call of my life last night, or the night before, it’s hard to tell. I called someone, introduced myself, and asked if we could count on his vote on Election Day. He replied that he really wasn’t sure, his mother had died that morning, and he thought I might be the mortuary. I’ve been doing this a long time, and that’s never happened to me before.

My next call was to a woman I didn’t know, but who lives about a quarter mile from me. We chatted, and suddenly she says “OH! You’re Olivia’s mom! I met you by the pond.” So, since we were obviously friends, and since she said she was too busy to work, she agreed to drop pizzas by on Election Day.

And people say phone banking is boring.

Chester County was originally divided into 5 zones by the Obama campaign. The internal borders have shifted somewhat, but now we have additional satellite offices. In our zone, we have two. The one I’ve been at this week is about a block and a half from the Paoli train station. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything to you, but here’s why it matters. Earlier this year, Barack Obama got on a train in Philadelphia, came out the Main Line, and stopped at various train stations, including Paoli, to make speeches.

One of the women at the phone bank told me that it was that day, and that speech, that made her decide to work her first election. Turns out that on Valentine’s Day, 1968, her grandfather was attacked and killed on the platform at the Paoli train station for being black and “not knowing his place.”

So last night, at the Paoli location, we had a leadership team meeting. We heard the plans that we would implement for our little corner of the world: the remaining planning, the final weekend of regular canvassing, the final push, Election Day.

Driving home, I realized that the identical meeting was being held by local teams across the country. Maybe the night before, or after, but the plan was the same. It’s one of the two greatest strengths of the campaign: have a plan, work the plan. (The other greatest strength is the message: define it, refine it, adhere to it.) Believe me when I say this was no local organizing meeting. Nope.

This folks, is the ground game. And when all is said and done, and the historical evaluations of the 2008 campaigns are viewed with 20/20 hindsight, the ground game is going to be the big topic. There was a lot of discussion in the spring about “Commander in Chief” credentials. That position requires two things: the nuanced intelligence to accurately ascertain WHETHER to go into battle, and, if you do, the ability to plan out what your troops will do when they get there. Initial plans, contingency plans, logistics.

I’m here to tell you, the ceiling of the threshold has been smashed through. And by the way, someone else doesn’t have a ground game. Here at McShame’s last stand though, I can tell you that all they do have is signs. I’ll take the ground game, thank you.

No poll this morning, I don’t have the heart to poll on the most expensive shopping trip you ever took. Even for me, that’s too snarky. But (tease, tease) if you check back here mid-day, the DCW team has something even better…