Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Obama campaign leaves Mitt Romney trailing as focus shifts to November

Obama-campaign-chicago-007 Barack Obama is quietly accumulating a powerful army of field organisers and volunteers, giving his bid for a second term in the White House a substantial head start over his Republican rivals.

In crucial swing states across America, the Obama re-election campaign, backed by the Democratic party, is already in full battle mode with more than 200 offices open, staff hired and thousands of election events underway.

By contrast, all four Republican candidates – including the increasingly dominant frontrunner Mitt Romney – are so shackled by their internal battle over the party's nomination that they have actually been shutting down operations in critical states at the end of each primary.

In the classic swing state of New Hampshire, Romney closed his only office immediately after the January 10 primary. To the astonishment of local Obama organisers, a "for lease" sign was hung outside the Romney headquarters four days before the vote was held. Obama, by contrast, has seven offices up and running in the state, with more than 25 paid staff.

A Guardian survey of the activities of the Obama re-election campaign, based on data posted to, reveals 4,200 election events between now and June. Such an aggressive launch of a presidential election campaign so early in the cycle is unprecedented and threatens to leave the eventual Republican nominee far behind in terms of its grassroots organisation.

At this stage, the emphasis of the Obama campaign is on phone banking and voter registration drives designed to mobilise support, as well as online organising skills and social media training. Though the events are spread across 47 states, they are heavily concentrated in the most critical battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome of the presidential election.

The disparity between Obama's advanced organisation and the relative lack of any equivalent infrastructure on the Republican side devoted to the presidential election in November is stark. It helps explain the rising chorus from conservative leaders calling for a swift end to the party's nomination race and for Rick Santorum, Romney's main contender, to stand aside and let him focus on Obama.

The Guardian

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