What Matters in the Campaign’s Final Shootout?


Campaign 2012 should be decisive in a big bunch of ways — we’ll get a new president and a fundamentally different Congress…or we won’t, for example. But political digerati will be watching for special insights in our own field, since this election cycle is effectively a massive testing opportunity for online political messaging, recruiting and organizing.

Back in August, we looked at a long series of questions the campaign could answer, ranging from the effectiveness of mobile canvassing to the possibility of a voter backlash against highly targeted advertising. In the current issue of Campaigns & Elections, I examine four of these questions in detail, with a particular focus on the relative power of the Republican air dominance vs. the Democratic strength on the ground. Here’s a sample:

By contrast, Romney and his allies have largely ceded the (online-smartbomb-assisted) ground war to the Democrats, choosing instead to put their resources into TV ads running on heavy rotation in battleground states. In part, the difference is driven by the fact that a lot of Republican money is flowing through Super PACs and other outside groups, which are neither oriented nor staffed with grassroots organizing in mind.

It also seems to reflect a deeper bias in Republican strategy—local organizing just isn’t in their blood this year. Just one example, their presidential campaigns were already out-staffed on the ground by the Obama camp for months during the Republican primary season.

Read the full article for more, and definitely let me know what you think in the comments. Is it true that Republicans aren’t into field this year, for example, or am I misreading the trends? If you’re working on campaigns, tell us what you’re seeing — there’s no substitute for real-world experience.

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