Category Archives: 2012 US elections

Campaign Lessons from the Wisconsin Recall Election—it’s not about television, field operations, or the internet, but about all of them

So June 5, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker beat his Democratic challenger Tom Barrett 53-46 in a expensive, hard-fought, and divisive recall election that gives a taste of what the fall general election will have to offer in swing states around the United States.

Here are three observations about money and where it comes from, about television versus field, and about the role of the internet that will also apply as Obama and Romney face each other—

First, this was a very expensive election and both candidate campaigns were heavily reliant on various forms of outside allies. According to the Wisconsin Democracy Project and the Center for Public Integrity, the Walker campaign spent $29.3 million and outside pro-Republican groups a further $18 million. Barrett spent $2.9 million, a tenth of the incumbent, and outside groups supporting him, many of them labor unions spent a further $15.5 million. Total expenditures equaled $65.7 million, or $26.2 per vote cast, up more than 50% from $37.4 million or $17.3 per vote cast in the 2010 gubernatorial election between the same two men. Most of the money, especially for the Walker campaign and the outside groups, came from out-of-state donors.

Second, both campaigns worked intensely to use all means at their disposal, whether advertising, spin, or volunteers talking to voters. Some commentary has cast the recall election as “TV ad spending vs. boots on the ground”, which certainly reflects Walker and his allies’ almost 3-1 edge in the money race but also an effort by Barrett and his allies to spin their financial inferiority into a compelling narrative of people vs. power. Both campaigns spent millions on television, and both campaigns mobilized thousands of volunteers to make millions of phone calls and door knocks to sway the undecided, shore up support from their base, and turn out their voters. (The news coverage suggests Barrett with his labor allies had an edge on the ground, but Walker certainly also had his own field operation running and some numbers suggest they’ve contacted more than 60% of all registered voters in the state at least once in person.)

Third, on both sides, we’ve also seen signs of new digital tools being battle-tested in advance of the fall general election. TechPresident reports that the Obama campaign tested their new “Dashboard” system to let volunteers from around the country make calls into Wisconsin, the AFL-CIO has trialed software that matches voter lists with volunteers’ Facebook friends to let them call targets that they actually know rather than total strangers, and the Walker campaign combined VoIP with digital voter files to automate the connection between identification calls and data entry. More “mundane tools” like email, websites with information about when and where to vote, and of course Facebook pages set up by volunteer groups or lower-level candidates themselves were also integral to the campaigns everywhere. As is the case elsewhere, the internet was not only a separate platform for a digital advertising and marketing strategy directed at voters, but also an infrastructure used for a lot of other campaign operations like fundraising and mobilization.

So the Wisconsin recall election was expensive, it involved campaigns heavily dependent on outside allies and grassroots help as they mixed and matched old and new forms of political communication, and it saw various internet tools used both to promote each candidate’s message online, but also as integral to more back-end operations rarely visible from the outside.

All this will be the case in the fall too when the vastly bigger and more complicated Obama and Romney campaigns and their many allies square off for the Presidential Election, drawing on money and manpower from around the country but focusing their efforts on a dozen or so swing states.

My book, Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns, deals with how American political campaigns mobilize, organize, and target their field operations, using large numbers of volunteers and paid part-timer workers to contact voters at home at the door or over the phone. It has been published by Princeton University Press and is available on Amazon.

(cross-posted to Politics in Spires)

(image from the Barret campaign’s Flickr stream)

Is the Obama campaign’s new tool “Dashboard” the “Holy Grail” of Digital Campaigning? Nobody knows

According to Ed Pilkington and Amanda Michel, writing in the Guardian, the Obama campaign is about to “unleash [the] ‘Holy Grail’ of digital campaigning.”

The grail in question is a new tools called “Dashboard”, meant to integrate voter contact, volunteer management, and activist social networking in one shared and accessible platform.

The campaign writes on their website, “for the first time ever, you’ll be able to join, connect with, and build your neighborhood team online.” (In other words, at this level of generality, it is kinda like MeetUp, DeanSpace, DFA-Link, MyBarackObama, National Field, etc, only different.)

It sounds great. Will it work? I have no clue. Neither do Pilkington and Michel, which they openly admit. As they write–

“[The campaign staffers] are keeping specific details about Dashboard heavily under wraps for fear that they might lose the substantial advantage they now enjoy over their rivals in the Romney campaign.”

So all we know about Dashboard at this point is that the Obama campaign has this new tool, that they have decided to promote its existence, that they say it will work (“substantial advantage”), but that they won’t tell us how, precisely.

In addition to the caveat quoted above, Pilkington and Michel’s article also includes all the usual buzzwords–Dashboard is “secret”, it is “sophisticated”, it is “powerful”, and it is being developed by brand-name “gurus” like Michael Slaby, Joe Rospars, and Jeremy Bird. (I’m trying to imagine a campaign that would let dimwits develop a feeble tool.) It’s already subject to speculation elsewhere, including on TechPresident.

Like other “Holy Grails” presented by “gurus” it is at this stage a question of faith whether you believe it will work (as a matter of fact, “Holy Grail” and “McCainSpace” was once mentioned in the same article).

I’m glad journalists like Pilkington and Michel are covering campaign technologies, because often-obscure back-end technologies like Dashboard increasingly matter for how digital politics works in practice, gives some campaigns a competitive edge, and structure how ordinary people can get involved and in what. But unless you are part of the team developing Dashboard or involved in testing it, at this point you won’t really have any evidence of its potential beyond whatever PR the campaign puts out.

I have every reason to believe that the people involved in developing Dashboard are smart, that they are very good at what they are doing, and that the tools they have developed will help them further rationalize, control, and perhaps even energize the Obama campaign’s voter contact program.

But I do get a little skeptical every time I encounter a heavily marketed new digital tool, whether it is being spun by a campaign wanting to assert it is ahead, or by a consultant peddling her wares. Is this another Demzilla, marketed aggressively by then-DNC chair Terry McAuliffe ( here in the Washington Post) but in practice a debacle–

“You could ask me about any city block in America, and I could tell you how many on that block are likely to be health care voters, or who’s most concerned about education or job creation […] And I could press a button and six seconds later you’d have a name, an address and a phone number for each of them. We can then begin a conversation with these people that is much more sophisticated and personal than we ever could before.”

Sounds good, Terry. Shame it didn’t work.

Is Dashboard another heavily hyped tool that won’t work in practice? Or is it the real thing? As said, I don’t know. Very few do, and they are not going to tell us very much at this stage. They have good reasons to hold their cards close to their chests.

Every cycle we are presented with new revolutionary tools. And some tools that actually really do change how politics is practiced. Sometimes, the tools we are presented with before, and the ones that in hindsight turned out to have made a real difference are not the same ones at all.

2008 was supposed to be the Facebook Election  or the YouTube election. But a good case can be made that more specialized back-end tools like the Voter Activation Network that I write about in my book or the MyBarackObama site that Daniel Kreiss writes about in his forthcoming book were actually in many ways more important. My point is simply that at this stage, we don’t know, and since the proof is in the pudding, in a way we can’t know–to find out, we’ll have to do more than simply listen to the PR hype, but go have a look at how these tools are used in practice, on the ground, battle-tested on the campaign trail.

My book, Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns, deals with how American political campaigns mobilize, organize, and target their field operations, using large numbers of volunteers and paid part-timer workers to contact voters at home at the door or over the phone. It has just been published by Princeton University Press and is available on Amazon.

We are going to win this thing the (new) old-fashioned way

May 5th, President Obama gave (basically identical) speeches in the swing states of Ohio and Virginia, officially providing the “campaign kickoff” for his re-election effort. The opening statement is interesting for how it frames the campaign, as well as for the substantial ask–

I want to thank so many of our Neighborhood Team Leaders for being here today.  You guys will be the backbone of this campaign.  And I want the rest of you to join a team or become a leader yourself, because we are going to win this thing the old-fashioned way — door by door, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood.

This campaign is about people (that’s part of the framing). He wants you to join the Obama army (that’s also a substantial ask, because the campaign needs help to get out the vote). And if you join, you will be asked to walk door to door to talk to voters, make calls, organize your neighborhood etc.

That may sound old-fashioned, as the President suggests, but there is a twist to it. Field operations and volunteer efforts these days are completely intertwined with a whole range of digital tools that are anything but old-fashioned.

So you’ll also be asked to enter data into VoteBuilder, the Democratic Party’s digital voter file, whether you have a smart phone to keep in touch with the campaign, to do distributed phone banking from home via an online integrated platform, and to lend data and profile updates from your social networking profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc) to the campaign.

This is the (new) old-fashioned way honed to perfection in 2008 and refined ever since rather than the (old) old-fashioned way, blending traditional organizing with various new digital tools appropriated from corporate marketing or in some cases developed for the campaign. Romney’s campaign will be working along the same lines, as they too will be worried about turnout amongst traditional Republican base voters.

I’d love to be on the ground to follow these campaigns as they are operating “between door-to-door and databases” (an earlier working title for my book Ground Wars). Ten months with two congressional campaigns in 2008 was absolutely fascinating, and to spend just a few with a Presidential campaign working with the same tactics on a much larger scale would be a blast.

That’ll have to wait for some later election, however, as I’m bound in Europe working on other stuff… Till then, I’ll stalk the campaigns via coverage from the usual sources, I’ve grown particularly fond of the Financial Times‘ Richard McGregor, who reports a lot from the ground and pays attention to campaign mechanics like few other journalists, and of course continue to follow Sasha Issenberg’s great work at Slate.com and various stuff from TechPresident to keep up on the technology side of things.

My book, Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns, deals with how American political campaigns mobilize, organize, and target their field operations, using large numbers of volunteers and paid part-timer workers to contact voters at home at the door or over the phone. It has just been published by Princeton University Press and is available on Amazon.

(cross-posted to Politics in Spires)

Next steps for Romney?

It continues to look like Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for President in the fall. While he is still fighting a war of attrition with Rick Santorum, it will take a major game changer for him to lose the primary. So it is no surprise that he is increasingly orienting himself towards the general election.

What can the course of the campaign so far tell us about the challenges Romney will face and how he will try to tackle them?

The drawn-out primary has been a mixed blessing, forcing Romney to cater to a conservative base out of touch with many Americans, forcing him to spent time and money battling right-wing rivals when he would have preferred to train his guns on President Obama. It has also exposed some issues that Romney and his campaign will have to content with moving forward.

In short, Republicans aren’t really fired up about their likely Presidential candidate, and some may not be bothered to vote for him. This is a problem in what may very well be a very close race.

Moving to the general election, Romney has to make his pitch to independent voters, but also do his utmost to build a platform and an organization that can help him bring out the conservative base. If there is one thing Karl Rove taught us about American politics, it is that you cannot and should not take the base for granted, but actively cater to it and work to bring it out (his so-called “base-strategy”). The idea that simply not being Obama will do this for Romney is dangerous. The President is certainly not popular on the right, but Romney will need to fight for every vote, conservative or independent, to win in the fall.

Romney’s well-funded and professionally managed campaign organization has been highlighted as one of his advantages throughout the primary. As he begins to re-tool for the general election (while still dealing with Santorum et al at the same time), it will need to expand its presence on the ground and built a network of active supporters in all the potential battleground states. A proper field operation capable of getting out the vote is hard to put together on short notice. It takes time and effort to cultivate the relationships that animate a good ground game.

One of the advantages of the fiercely fought 2008 Democratic primary was that it left Obama with an organizational presence and strong supporter base across the country that also helped him fight and win the general election. In contrast, it is not clear that the Romney campaign has managed to maintain its presence even in states where it won the GOP primary. As Ed Pilkington and Amanda Michel from the Guardian writes

Romney until recently had three offices in Florida, all directed to his primary battle against Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Yet despite the fact that no Republican has won the White House while losing Florida since Calvin Coolidge in 1924, Romney closed all three offices after the January 31 primary.

Calls to the main number of Romney’s Florida headquarters are sent to voicemail; the mailbox is full and will not accept further messages.

For all the talk about inevitability, it seems the Romney campaign is still mostly oriented towards winning the next primary states and has only just begun re-tooling for the general election. (I haven’t been able to find information on whether they remain active on the ground in Ohio and Virginia, it would be interesting to know.)

If they want to build an organization capable of fighting Obama for every inch in every contested state, they will need to maintain and continually expand a presence on the ground across the country. At the moment, they do not seem to be doing this. Come November, they may find there is a price to be paid for that.

My book, Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns, deals with how American political campaigns mobilize, organize, and target their field operations, using large numbers of volunteers and paid part-timer workers to contact voters at home at the door or over the phone. It has just been published by Princeton University Press and is available on Amazon.

(cross-posted to Politics in Spires)

(image from the Mitt Romney campaign’s Flickr stream)

Nothing “super” about Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday came and went, and I’m not sure people in the ten states involved felt it was all that “super”.

Despite some Republican party activists asserting this is the most important Presidential Election since George Washington was elected (no, really), voter turnout in several cases was lower than in the 2008 Republican Primary. Many of those who did vote were not enthusiastic about any of the candidates running (according to the Washington Post, “Barely more than four out of 10 voters in Ohio said they were strongly behind their candidate, according to exit polls”). And people aren’t enjoying the spectacle of the campaign itself either—the New York Times quotes a couple from Ohio complaining about the “barrage of ads” and “the phone calls, ugh … We get 15 a day.” (They must be new to the Buckeye State. It will get worse in November.)

At this point it seems clear that, barring some major mistake, damaging revelation, or outside event, Mitt Romney will grind his way to the Republican nomination. It is also clear that it is likely to take months. Rick Santorum in particular has no reason to concede at this point. It is not clear that he has any real chance of winning the nomination. (Josh Putnam at Frontloading HQ has been crunching the numbers and makes a strong case it is highly improbably that Santorum, let alone Gingrich or Paul, can actually win the primary without dramatically improving their performance. The Washington Post has a similar analysis here.) But Santorum’s campaign is kept afloat by the lack of whole-hearted support for Romney in the Republican primary electorate, by media coverage, by outside money, and by the appearance of momentum off the back of a favourable electoral geography/timetable. He will probably do well in Kansas, Alabama, and Mississippi, the next states to vote—all southern, all primed for his folksy style and conservative message—but from late March and onwards, the demography swings in Romney favour as Illinois votes. In April, a raft of North-Eastern states have their primaries, states that Romney will probably win quite clearly on his way to locking up the nomination.

In 2008, the Republican Primary was over after Super Tuesday, the preponderance of winner-takes-all systems for allocating delegates meant that John McCain was comfortably ahead in the delegate count at an early point in time. Out of ten states to vote before February 6, 2008, McCain had won only three (New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida) Of the 21 that voted on Super Tuesday that year, he won 9, for a total of 12 out of 31. Mitt Romney, by comparison, had won a total 11 by then—but conceded the next day, accepting that there was no clear path for him to the nomination. In 2012, Romney has won 14 states out of 22 (including Ohio), and Santorum 6, but changes to how delegates are awarded means that Santorum retains a sheen of viability that will only be increased if he racks up more victories in the next couple of states. (It is an interesting question of how one covers this as a journalist—there is a danger to pronouncing people winners before they have actually won. Compare the New York Times coverage, which is very cautious about crowning Romney as the likely nominee, with the Washington Post, which is much less circumspect.)

Why this change to the rules, changes that keep Santorum alive and kicking where he would have been dead and buried under the old rules? After 2008, Republican Party leaders came to the conclusion that the drawn-out Obama-Clinton primary contest was actually an advantage for the Democratic Party, giving their candidates more exposure, battle-testing them, forcing them to built their campaigns across the country. Hence, as Karen Tumulty writes in the Washington Post, in the new system—

“The GOP nomination contest was designed to play out more slowly than in the past. Through the end of this month, states are required to allocate their delegates in proportion to the votes each candidate receives. That means just about everyone comes away from just about every contest with something to show for it — and a rationale for continuing to the next one.”

It is not clear this is working out very well for the Republican Party. As Dan Balz notes in the Washington Post, “Romney is in worse shape at this point in the campaign than virtually all recent previous nominees.” The exposure, the incessant negative campaigning, the party-internal wrangling and the rest of it is not working to the GOP’s advantage. Balz continues—

“Demographically, [Romney’s] image among independent voters, the most critical swing group, is more negative now than it was when the primary battle began. He could be hurt among women. He is in trouble with Latinos, a growing part of the electorate that is tilting even more Democratic than it was four years ago. He is not as strong as he needs to be among working-class white voters, among whom President Obama has been consistently weak.

Geographically, the numbers from several key states have been discouraging for the former Massachusetts governor. Pre-primary polls in Ohio, Virginia and Michigan showed him running behind Obama by low double digits. Ohio is a must-win for the Republican nominee in the fall, and Virginia is a state the GOP is determined to take back from the president. Republicans once thought Michigan would be a possible battleground, but at this point it isn’t.“

Every Republican Party leader, operative, and activist who looks at the trajectory of the primary will have to consider whether the drawn-out contest is undermining the party’s prospects in the fall. Many are clearly pushing hard for the GOP to rally around Romney.

But as long as Santorum and the rest insists on plugging on, their wealthy backers are willing to bankroll them, and between a third and half the Republican primary electorate keeps on voting for them, they can do it. Hence, while Super Tuesday gave Romney a string of victories (and important ones at that), it was more like another day at the office than a particularly “super” day for him too. Both he and many voters would probably wish for this to be over sooner rather than later. But Romney will just have to grind his teeth and grind his rivals down, week after week, state after state, driving away independent and alienating party activists simply by not being as conservative as they are, while President Obama and his people built his re-election campaign and prepares for the final showdown in the fall.

My book, Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns, deals with how American political campaigns mobilize, organize, and target their field operations, using large numbers of volunteers and paid part-timer workers to contact voters at home at the door or over the phone. It has just been published by Princeton University Press and is available on Amazon.

(cross-posted to Politics in Spires)

Does Nevada mean that conservatives have begun to “rally” around Romney? Not really

The overall result of the Nevada caucus—a clear Mitt Romney victory—was so predictable that I haven’t really been following the campaign there and hadn’t planned to write about it. But then some of the media coverage of the result is interesting and amnesic enough to merit a few words.

First the result, from AP via Google: Romney 50%, Gingrich 21%, Paul 19%, and Santorum 10%. Turnout little short of 33,000 voters.

What does that mean? According to Michael O’Brian writing on MSNBC/NBC, “Saturday’s caucus reflect an instance in which Romney was able to rally conservatives to his candidacy.” Chris McGreal writes for the Guardian that “Republican voters of various shades [now] latch on to Romney as the best prospect of beating Barack Obama.”

Wait a minute. Romney is the clear favourite to secure the Republican nomination, but it is not at all clear that the Nevada result suggests that conservatives are now rallying around him.

Why? Well, we could compare the 2012 results with 2008, for example—Romney 51%, Ron Paul 14%, John McCain 13% and the rest sharing the remaining 22%. Turnout? More than 44,000 voters. (The difference is clear from my highly sophisticated combo of the Wikipedia pages on 2008 and 2012 below, an example of the power of what Larry Lessig calls “remix culture“…)

In other words, Romney, the candidate that Republicans are now supposedly “rallying” around, and who came into Nevada with considerable momentum, who has a clear organizational and financial advantage, and who faced very little serious resistance on the ground as his rivals had given up the state in advance, got more votes in 2008 than in 2012. And not just a little– he got about a third more votes back then if you look at the absolute numbers. (16,486 in 2012, versus 22,649 in 2008.)

There are no doubt many reasons for this result that I won’t comment on here. But one thing I would venture to say is that it suggests that the Republican base is yet to accept Romney as their man. His campaign continues to have to fight on two fronts at the same time–making a broad-based appeal to the American people with an eye to the November general election while convincing the (diverse) conservative core of the Republican Party that they should support him too.

My book, Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns, deals with how American political campaigns mobilize, organize, and target their field operations, using large numbers of volunteers and paid part-timer workers to contact voters at home at the door or over the phone. It has just been published by Princeton University Press and is available on Amazon.

“Hi, I’m a volunteer with the Mitt Romney campaign, calling you from my computer…”

So Mitt Romney won what the Washington Post calls a “decisive victory” in Florida yesterday, and while the Republican presidential primary isn’t quite over (a majority of the votes still went to his three remaining rivals, donations keep coming in to Newt Gingrich especially), the former Massachusetts governor is now well-positioned to lock up the nomination on “Super Tuesday,” March 6, where people in eleven states cast their votes.

If Romney becomes the candidate, a closer look at his current campaign can help us understand how he will fight the general election. In past cycles, most recently of course in 2008, the way candidates fought their primary gave many clues to how they ended up fighting the general election—in terms of their stage persona and their main message, yes, but also in terms of how their effort was organized in a more practical sense.

Building a campaign organization, mobilizing allies around it, and recruiting thousands of low-level staffers and volunteers is not something that is easily done overnight, and the wider campaign build around a particular candidacy will have its own internal inertia and idiosyncrasies, traits that often reflect decisions made months or even years before Election Day on the basis of a combination of received wisdom and the priorities of individual people involved. Once things are done in a particular way, unless something is clearly dysfunctional, intense time pressure and the multiple concerns always calling for the attention of the candidate and senior staff generally mean they continue to be done that way.

Take the 2008 Obama campaign as an example—the kernel was assembled from early 2007 onwards, with staffers plotting strategy and tactics, technologists developing the tools and infrastructures for an extensive, nation-wide effort, and organizers connecting with the multitudes of willing volunteers who helped power Obama to victory in both the primary and the general election. As for example David Plouffe, the campaign manager, has made clear, even as the campaign (both the formal organization and the wider network of allies and volunteers around it) grew and grew, senior staffers were working hard to maintain a basic set of organizing principles and a certain internal ethos that had worked well in the primary. (Sometimes dealing with enthusiastic groundswells of support from people unaccustomed to how campaigns are usually run in a pretty top-down fashion was in fact something of a challenge, as David Axelrod himself has noted.) As my friend Daniel Kreiss shows in his very interesting forthcoming book on the development of the campaign and the technologies and tools it relied on, many of the innovations we today associate with the 2008 Obama campaign where in fact pioneered, tested, and refined in the years before. (Just as the 2000 and 2004 Bush campaigns built on years of experimentation in local and state-level races, orchestrated by Karl Rove.)

On this basis, let’s have a look at just two features of the Romney primary campaign that it will be interesting to follow as we move forward—

  • How much volunteer support does Romney actually have? Many commentators have made much of how parts of the Republican base have yet to warm to his candidacy, but beyond a general “mood” amongst the party faithful, can he draw substantial numbers of people to his campaign? Beyond the raw numbers, can his campaign work constructively with these people to make sure that they feel involved and continue to contribute their time and effort?  Volunteers have generally been found to be more effective ambassadors for campaigns on the doorstep and over the phone than paid casual workers, so whoever builds the best volunteer operation will have an edge over his rival. (Turnout in US presidential elections has been increasing every cycle since 1996, in part due to increased emphasis on field campaigns. Given the current economic climate and a certain sense of disillusionment, in the absence of major get-out-the-vote efforts on both sides, 2012 may see the first fall in popular participation in sixteen years.)
  • How will his campaign work with the volunteers who do come? Throughout the primary, Romney’s campaign has made a priority of having a physical presence on the ground, opening campaign offices and posting contact details in relevant states to make sure people have somewhere to go. His campaign has also embraced the various online-enabled forms of “distributed phone banking” pioneered by MoveOn and others, where supporters can log on via a campaign website and make calls directly to target voters in relevant states from their own smart phone or computer. In both cases, the campaign has quite sensibly been platform agnostic, deciding to make as many different forms of engagement possible and to meet potential volunteers where ever they may come from. In both cases, the campaign has also prioritized channelling people’s time and energy into phone banking, a demonstrably effective way of trying to sway people and turn out voters.

At a general level, coverage of the primary will often stress how Romney’s campaign is well-funded and professionally run. But money and hard-nosed expertise is not all an effective campaign needs. The interface between campaign staffers in it to win it and volunteers with a much wider and mixed set of motivations can generate considerable friction and requires mutual empathy and a practical sense for making people work together that is sometimes lacking from political campaigns. And it matters. Volunteer mobilization and the translation of volunteers’ time and effort into instrumentally useful activities may sound dry and dull in comparison to the more immediately exciting speculation about what the next campaign advertisement will highlight or how the candidate will perform in the next debate. But both are crucial parts of a competitive campaign and shape how it is possible for ordinary people to take part in the electoral process beyond casting their vote. That’s why it will be interesting to see how the eventual Republican nominee ends up organizing his effort to challenge Obama’s re-election campaign.

My book, Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns, deals with how American political campaigns mobilize, organize, and target their field operations, using large numbers of volunteers and paid part-timer workers to contact voters at home at the door or over the phone. It has just been published by Princeton University Press and is available on Amazon.

(cross-posted on Politics in Spires)