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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

 

It takes more than an Obama-style campaign

by Tom Sullivan


Photo by Molly Theobald for the aflcio2008 (PA: Working America Voter ID and Persuasion)
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

People began asking early in 2015 if the local Democratic party was working on 2016. I told them we started working on 2016 the day after the election in 2014.

Each week I pick up messages at our local Democratic headquarters. For months, people have called to ask how they can get in touch with the Bernie Sanders campaign. (Even a disenchanted Republican now and then.) For months, I've directed them to the grassroots group organizing for Sanders here. Several hundred volunteers. On the ground it looks like 2008 all over again. They are phone banking out of our offices twice a week. Bernie Sanders is not a registered Democrat, but the memo from DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says he's running on our ticket.

I also get (fewer) calls from people asking how they can get in touch with the local Hillary Clinton campaign. I tell them I wish I knew. They are nowhere to be seen. Unless you've got the money to attend a high-dollar fundraiser downstate. Clinton volunteers could use our space too. But so far there aren't any.

A party activist in the Raleigh area confirmed Monday that she is seeing the same in Wake County. "Huuuuuuuge grassroots activist presence, already well organized and phonebanking into Iowa, NH, and SC," she wrote. "Clinton's NC presence is all fundraising."

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday on the razor-thin margin between Clinton and Sanders in Iowa:

As the official results rolled in Monday night, a poll of voters entering the evening's caucuses provided a picture of what went into their decision-making. Clinton had a huge margin among those Democrats — about 3 in 10 — who said their biggest concern about a nominee was having the right experience. By contrast, Sanders led strongly among those whose top priority was a president who “cares about people like me” or was “honest and trustworthy,” according to the entrance poll.

A Washington Post story this morning concludes:

... Clinton’s battle with Sanders has exposed vulnerabilities that her backers find worrisome. Chief among them is what is being called an “enthusiasm gap” — an apparent inability to ignite the kind of excitement that the gruff, rumpled Sanders is generating among young people and on the left.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat and a Clinton supporter, told the Post:

“One of the things that I know the team will grapple with — and this is something that people like me have to grapple with — is just making it simple and straightforward,” Kaine said. “Bernie’s message is pretty darn simple. And it’s a message that kind of the rich are stepping all over everybody.”

[snip]

The lack of focus in Clinton’s message to voters has emerged as a weakness. Her stump speech, which can wind on for 40 minutes or more on the minutiae of virtually every major policy detail, tends to impress voters at her events, but it poses a challenge for her surrogates, who are countering a far simpler message from Sanders focused on income inequality.

Clinton is trying to run an Obama-style campaign. Since 2008, everybody wants to run an Obama-style campaign. North Carolina Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan ran a pretty solid campaign in 2014. An Obama-style campaign. Hagan lost. Problem was, Hagan wasn't an Obama-style candidate.

Neither is Hillary Clinton. As her campaign makes adjustments post-Iowa, they might want to wake up and smell the cold pizza.