Obama’s Grassroots Endgame: 5117 GOTV Staging Areas, 698,799 Volunteer Shifts and a Sustained Local Focus

Taegan Goddard links to an Obama memo laying out the campaign’s case for the power of his grassroots field operation to turn out the vote:

“This morning, as our volunteer Neighborhood Team Leaders opened 5,117 get-out-the-vote (GOTV) staging locations in the battleground states that will decide this election, they began to execute the final phase of a ground game unlike any American politics has ever seen. These staging locations are even more localized versions of our field offices – set up in supporters’ homes, businesses or any area that can serve as a central hub for a team’s GOTV activities in the final days.

From these hyper-local Obama hubs, volunteers have signed up for 698,799 shifts to get out the vote over the final four days of this campaign, a number that grows by the minute as organizers continue assigning supporters who have expressed an interest in volunteering. These volunteerled GOTV staging locations embody what this campaign has been all about since we started organizing for change in 2007. The Neighborhood Team Leaders who are running our get-outthe-vote operation have been working in these neighborhoods for months, if not years.”

After more numbers — 1,792,261 new voters registered in battleground states — and a quick overview of the case that Obama’s leading heavily in early voting, the memo discusses the technology and training that made all this possible. It closes memo closes with a powerful summary of how this grassroots operation is different from any national field effort in the past:

As our Neighborhood Team Leaders opened their staging locations this morning, they began
logging into our state-of-the-art reporting system, officially launching their GOTV hubs. Unlike
campaigns of the past, our volunteers are not driving to some large office miles from their homes
and handed a phone and a call sheet. Instead, Canvass Captains, Phone Bank Captains and scores
of local volunteers will be knocking on the doors of the very voters they registered, have been
talking to for months and know personally. And they will be directing them to polling locations
in their communities รขโ‚ฌโ€œ the schools their kids go to, the places of worship they attend each week
and community centers they know well.

This is the difference between the Obama campaign and any other campaign we have ever
witnessed. Ours is a people-centered, data-driven campaign that has built small, manageable
neighborhood teams run by talented volunteers and supported by amazing field organizers who
know the exact number of votes they need to win in their precincts.

Our team has expanded the electorate, persuaded undecided voters and have identified enough
sporadic voting supporters to win every single battleground state. This weekend we start the
journey of turning out those voters and sending President Obama back to the White House.

Will anyone build a structure like this again? In part, the answer depends on whether or not it works. But something else to consider — now we have a whole new cadre of field organizers trained to work in their own communities to make things happen. In the long run, that may be as big a deal as the campaign itself.


Written by
Colin Delany
View all articles