Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Obama camp: In for, up for fight"

First Read (MSNBC):
Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe issued a strategically revealing memo this morning. It’s one part spin ("Coming off an impressive win in Iowa and taking the once inevitable frontrunner down to the wire in her firewall state, it is clear that Obama is well-positioned to become the next President of the United States.") But mostly a window into the campaign’s attitude that they know they are in for a fight and that they are geared up for one. This may be as much a memo to donors as it is to reporters, who the campaign wants to remind that they have a lot of cash and a lot of organization. And, as we noted in First Thoughts this morning, with 15 of the 22 Democratic races on Feb. 5th potentially allowing independents to vote, this is looking like a fight. (Our own Tim Russert calls it Ali-Frazier.)

But a lot still depends on Nevada and South Carolina. In the memo, the Obama campaign notes their strength in caucus organization (Remember Iowa) and that Nevada is a caucus. Ironically, in Iowa, it was Clinton with the labor backing. In Nevada, it’s looking more and more like Obama’s going to be the one with that. But Clinton has been ahead in every major poll in the state and with her win in New Hampshire, any Obamamentum has been effectively squashed for now, creating the standoff we’re looking at.

Nevada should serve as something of a lead-in to South Carolina, where almost half the Democratic voting electorate is black. Obama and Clinton have split black support until the past month or, which has seen Obama with decisive black support. But he trails woefully among whites, particularly blue collar, less-educated whites. Can Edwards actually help him here and pull enough of those voters to him if he has a decent finish in Nevada? We’ll see. It’s going to be tough, as Richardson is going to be a real player there too.

The full memo:

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: David Plouffe

DATE: January 9, 2008

RE: The Next Four Weeks

Coming off an impressive win in Iowa and taking the once inevitable frontrunner down to the wire in her firewall state, it is clear that Obama is well-positioned to become the next President of the United States. As the people of Iowa and New Hampshire demonstrated, the American people desperately want change they can believe in. Barack Obama is the candidate to deliver that change by bringing people together, standing up to the special interests, and telling people what they need to know.

Our campaign now turns its focus squarely to Nevada and South Carolina, and February 5th. Today, we kick off the next phase of our campaign in New Jersey, an important February 5th state.

In the 4th Quarter of 2007, our campaign raised $23.5 million -- over $22.5 million of which is for the primary election. In that quarter, we added 111,000 new donors for a total of 475,000 donors in 2007.

In the first 8 days of 2008, we raised over $8 million and gained 35,000 new donors. Since midnight last night, we have raised another $500,000 online. We continue to build a grassroots movement that makes us best-positioned to compete financially in the primaries and caucuses coming up.

We have built the same caucus operation in Nevada as we did in Iowa, with focused and effective precinct captains in over 95 percent of the precincts in the state, and multiple captains in many precincts. We have also been reaching deep into the electorate, securing commitments to caucus from habitual Democratic voters, general election voting Democrats and Independents.

In a significant boost to our efforts, we received the endorsement of the SEIU local in Nevada late last night.

This is the first time Nevada has had a precinct caucus so organization is paramount, both in terms of shaping the overall electorate as well as the added challenge of getting voters to locations that are unfamiliar to them.

South Carolina
We have seen dramatic movement in South Carolina since Iowa, resulting in healthy double-digit leads for Senator Obama in recent public polling. We have by far the strongest organization in the state according to neutral observers and believe that, as the gateway to February 5th, South Carolina will provide our campaign enormous momentum heading into those twenty-two states.

Obama also has the support of several key political figures in South Carolina, including former Governor Jim Hodges, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, and former party chairs Joe Erwin and Dick Harpootlian.

February 5th
We now have staff in nineteen of the twenty-two February 5th states and will be adding to the remaining three – Delaware, Arkansas and Connecticut – by the end of the week.

In the six caucus states – Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, Idaho, Alaska and North Dakota - we have been engaged in heavy organizing and voter contact. In many of these states, our opponents are not engaged in any organizing. We firmly believe you cannot build a caucus operation in a matter of four weeks, so we are at a decided advantage in these states where we have already identified tens of thousands of Obama supporters and where, in the last five days, the number of new volunteers and supporters has exploded. We are in the process of mailing past caucus-goers and our ID-ed supporters in those states. We are also preparing aggressively for vote-by-mail in states like California and Arizona, where we have mail pieces hitting this week and an exhaustive phone program in place to identify supporters and make sure those ballots are returned.

In all of the February 5th states, we have active chapters at most colleges and universities and are pursuing support from independent voters aggressively where they are permitted to participate, which is in most of the states. California and New Jersey, two states the Clintons have pointed to as firewalls, both will have healthy independent turnout in the Democratic primary.

We expect to see a great deal of movement to Obama from superdelegates in the coming days, seriously eroding the Clintons’ existing advantage in this universe.

To fully execute a robust February 5th strategy, it will take tens of millions of dollars. Our financial picture is strong and growing stronger by the day, which will allow us to have a significant paid media presence to go alongside our grassroots operations in our target February 5th states.

We expect, as we begin to see significant national poll movement, that there will also be positive poll movement in the February 5th states. Obama saw substantial gains in the individual February 5th state polls in December opening up a lead in Georgia and seeing a seriously tightening race in California.

We will be releasing later today our final fourth quarter 2007 estimates, as well as some numbers for the first eight days of January for both dollars raised, as well as number of total donors and new donors acquired in these periods.

The coming weeks will be challenging and no doubt filled with more haphazard and relentless attacks, but we believe we could not be better positioned for the next twenty four states. Our goal is simple – to win as many states as we can in the next twenty-eight days.



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