Team Obama touts hyper-local ground game
Obama's campaign team says they have made 125 million personal contacts
President Barack Obama's campaign touted an intensely focused ground game going into election week on Saturday, citing their robust voter contact efforts as a reason the president will prevail against his rival Mitt Romney.
Campaign manager Jim Messina and national field director Jeremy Bird said their system incorporating neighborhood "hubs" where volunteers can register and help turn out voters had produced sizable results going into Tuesday's vote.
"Our neighborhood teams have had millions of conversations with persuadable voters," Bird said on a conference call Saturday, echoing a memo Obama's team released detailing the battle plan headed into next week.
"Each battleground state has been running an aggressive and comprehensive organizing program targeted toward undecided, persuadable voters," Bird said, describing an "all-of-the-above organizing program" that includes supporters making phone calls and knocking on doors of people in their own neighborhoods.
Bird said the Obama campaign has made 125 million of those personal contacts over the course of the campaign.
"Many field campaigns have historically favored quantity over quality; we do not," Bird said. "In each conversation we have with a voter, our goal is to make a difference. These are not phone calls made from a call center; they are done at the local level by our neighborhood team leaders, members and volunteers, who are talking to people in their communities."
Comparatively, Romney's campaign has reached 50 million voters since the spring, according to a memo distributed to top Republican leaders and surrogates obtained by CNN.
The Romney memo trumpets the "best GOTV [get-out-the-vote] programs" that states like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin and Iowa have ever seen, saying GOP volunteers there are contacting millions of voters per week.
In the closing days of the campaign, however, Republicans don't seem poised to match the Democrats' voter contact effort - the memo says that the Romney team will reach 6 million voter contacts during the final four days of the campaign, not coming close to the 125 million total touted by Obama's team.
A Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll between October 29-November 1 showed similar voter contact rates for the two candidates, however: 29% of likely voters nationwide said they'd been reached by Obama's campaign, and 27% said they were contacted by Romney's team. The poll was of voters nationwide, however, and didn't gauge voter contact in battleground states.
Responding to the Obama campaign's numbers boast, Romney political director Rich Beeson said the figures were simply a mask for a bad candidate.
"If the Obama campaign spent half the time trying to get people back to work as they do spinning reporters on why they're going to win this election, the unemployment rate might not have gone up," he wrote. "That said, it doesn't matter how many offices you have, staff you hire, or ground game plans you have - you need a candidate who can tell the American people why things will be better, not worse, after four years of their leadership."
Republicans also point to the Obama campaign surrogates headed to states where the race has recently tightened, despite once seeming a lock for the incumbent Democrats. Those states include Pennsylvania, where Bill Clinton will campaign this week, and Wisconsin, where Obama himself held a rally Saturday.
Messina said the Obama campaign was "not going to take anything for granted anywhere" in the final days of the campaign, including in Wisconsin.
"You go as hard as you can until the end. That's what we're going to do until the very end," Messina said.
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