Obama's shock new election tactic
There are two closely related ways that well intentioned people, of all parties, try to sabotage the election campaigns of the party they support. The first is to complain that the campaign hasn't given them a poster to put in their window, and the second is to complain that they haven't been given a poster board to put in their garden.
FiveThirtyEight has a quite wonderful article about this:
"In a controversial move sure to upset millions of people, Barack Obama’s campaign has decided to forgo the traditional time-wasting distribution of chum (yard signs, bumper stickers, etc.) to try and win the election.
Settling on what they call a “get voters to register by approaching them on the phone and at the door with an army of volunteers” strategy, Obama’s senior staff has directed state, regional, and local field organizers to use their finite time to make tangible progress toward winning...
Despite Obama’s 100% name recognition, opponents of the “maybe worry about visibility after registration deadlines close” strategy pronounced the situation “dire” on the front page of Daily Kos yesterday.
Obama campaign strategists believe that, with their massive months-long, grinding-it-out-every-day registration plan, that 80 percent of those new registrations would vote for Obama, and that 75% of the newly registered voters will turn out. If 75% of an 80-20 split on 300,000 new registrants turns out, that’s Barack Obama adding 135,000 bonus votes to his total in Virginia alone. Organizers in Obama’s Virginia campaign offices have been sternly instructed to focus on those numbers by spending long, exhausting days recruiting volunteers instead of spending their limited time worrying about whether there are enough yard signs to go around...
Organizers – the people out there killing themselves to win this election – hate yard signs with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.
Barack Obama’s organizers hate them. John McCain’s organizers hate them. It’s because yard signs don’t vote – but they do generate a ridiculous amount of complaining that must be patiently listened to. Until yard signs sprout little legs and go to the polls on Election Day, in a presidential election with universal name recognition they are just a nice little decoration.
They’re little feel good things, making you feel like you’re on the team. There is nothing wrong with that – that’s not the objection. The objection is that there is limited time for organizers to accomplish a wide array of prioritized tasks, and in this election they’ve chosen to prioritize identifying, registering, persuading and getting their voters to the polls. Yard signs cut into the organizer’s sleep time – literally.
A lot of people aren’t going to like hearing this truth, but organizers recognize that the majority of people who walk into offices for yard signs are, for volunteering purposes – and this is a technical term – useless. In the majority, these people are not going to knock, they’re not going to make phone calls. Instead, they are going to throw the organizer’s incredibly precious, sleep-deprived time down a bottomless abyss of irretrievability.
People who plant yard signs are maybe going to make their neighbors aware that they support a particular candidate, and in theory, if they live near voters who cede their opinions to peer pressure, they could theoretically be shading the influence of a vote here or there.
Here’s a little secret: there will always be exceptions, but people who spend a lot of time volunteering in campaign offices tend to get yard signs. Organizers know and love these people dearly, and they take care of them.
Every single person pouring real effort into this campaign knows what I’m writing is true. In every office we stop into, we ask both sides about yard signs. It’s unanimous. In good old purple Colorado, in Montezuma County, the Republican women volunteering at the local office pointed out how their signs read, “Paid for by the Montezuma County Republican Party.” They, too, had to generate their own local signs, and have to deal with unhappy people who stop in to get their prize but go away empty handed.
Yes, of course it would be nice to have more yard signs. If organizers had an infinite amount of time, they would be happy to pester their bosses up the ladder to see when they’re coming in. Then they’d love to chat with you about how someone stole or defaced them, and run a bunch of replacements right out.
But in the very purple, exurban Northern Virginia neighborhoods there is a problem. There’s a walk list sitting in a campaign office not being walked and knocked, and a newly-registered voter who projects as .45 of a vote for Obama is not being registered."