OFA needs to follow the advice of Karl Rove this time: Implement a NEW 50-State Strategy and develop young leaders for 2014 & Beyond
Narrow Victory of Obama’s Data-based Ground Game over Romney’s Money-based Air War means Democrats will need to focus more on Social “Grassroots Out” Organizing not just “Small Ball” with Yes We Can-Lite in post-Obama era
(10 Reasons why “Obama 2012” was a step backwards for Social “Grassroots Out” Organizing below)
WASHINGTON, DC – The following is a statement from Jim McBride, the President of Network For Progress, a social and media-savvy grassroots organization inspired by the “Yes We Can” Movement of Hope & Change, on the successes and failures of Tuesday’s presidential election. He will present on the topic at New Organizing Institute’s RootsCamp on November 30th, 2012:
“At first glance, when it comes to the 2012 election for President Obama and the Democratic Party, a Win is a Win. Considering all the money and lies and voter suppression efforts thrown at them almost as many states went Blue as 2008 and despite being heavily on the defense the Democrats grew their Senate majority.”
“The campaign made great strides in terms of efficiency of field outreach and rapid response to make sure they targeted the right voters with the right messages and defined Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch corporate raider while responding to the phony charges of his campaign and third-party operators.”
“Yet after 32 months of job growth and a safer world with our troops coming home and Osama Bin Laden dead, is this a surprise? Didn’t Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon and Eisenhower win re-election with bigger margins while Johnson, Carter and Bush Sr. failed because of obvious economic or security worries?”
“Obama was hampered by the lack of sharp messaging on the economy and health care that hurt Obama hard in the first debate and most importantly, the step backward on committing to the concept of ‘grassroots’ organizing that has been developed in recent years by the use of the Internet to connect supporters, especially young people, into tight-knit communities that socialize together, work together and WIN together.”
The result was another defeat in the House and the nationwide presidential vote margin dropping 7 percent:
“Exit Poll 2012: Obama slips with youth” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83438.html?hp=l4_b2
“For all the talk of “trick down” vs “middle out” economics, we saw the Obama campaign offer a “top down” over a “Grassroots Out” outreach strategy that focused heavily on fundraising efforts to combat Super PACs that eventually proved to be ineffective and primarily engaged supporters as only “followers” of Barack Obama not each other. Basically the organizing equivalent of “small ball” in baseball except you pay big money for over-priced free agents then only use them to scrape forward by stealing bases and drawing walks instead of going for a home run.
“Hence, the use of an exaggerated “Battleground State” focus that ignored many House candidates even in targeted states so despite winning the nationwide popular vote the heavily-redistricted country needs a focused campaign strategy to flip from one party to another.
Democrats need to move fast because the GOP is learning as even Karl Rove is taking note of how the Democrats got to where they are today with a 50-State Strategy where Democrats can compete in every race in every community across the country:
“The consequences are clear as when you favor building persuasive yet “cold” relationships with voters and skip building relationships with your supporter base who can build real “personal” relationships with voters you have lost an opportunity to engage the electorate in a truly impactful way that is needed to have loyal supporters ready to turn out again in lower interest years in 2013, 2014 and beyond.”
“More analysis into turnout and tactics will come but here is a quick look at how beyond the “memes” many of the Obama web site and social tools stagnated and then regressed through the campaign. EVEN ON ELECTION DAY.”
10 REASONS WHY “OBAMA 2012” WAS A STEP BACKWARDS FOR SOCIAL “GRASSROOTS OUT” ORGANIZING:
#1 OUTREACH STRATEGY: A great example of the focus for this election was how Instead of using a community-based approach OFA’s 2008 Generation Obama program was turned into the DNC’s Gen44 fundraising program in 2009 and late game efforts like “Young Americans for Obama” only focused primarily on students not the MAJORITY of young people who are not in school during ages 18-39. Intern-level “fellows” were put in charge of constituency outreach programs as late as September 2012.
#2 ORGANIZERS: Generally not trained or don’t use online or offline social organizing methods leaving few opportunities to build relationships or connect on a regular basis through tools like meetups, facebook, chat and text.
#3 SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS: Branded communities like Tech for Obama were basically fundraising themes and lacked customized content as tweets overlapped with the purposes of more general purpose accounts. Twitter accounts would often RT people who praise the campaign using recommended hashtags but rarely would share more relevant and more independent content.
#4 EMAIL GROUPS: The most common form of organizational communication is email but organizers were not armed with the capability to send local newsletters or didn’t make them available to many supporters and did not use My.BarackObama.com community groups on the web site since 2007. In addition to lack of use of My.Barackobama.com there was no use of existing facebook groups for organizing either.
#5 WEB SITE REDESIGN: Although “Dashboard” was introduced in June 2012 (over a year after campaign began) it was basically a repackaged version of My.BarackObama.com and was hardly visible on the Obama web site as finding My Profile, My Groups My Events and other features were difficult. Splash pages emphasized a donation ask over supporter or voter engagement.
#6 WEB SITE EVENTS: The capability to creating your own activity on the web site was essentially unchanged from 2008 as users had to use HTML language to format their text and could not make URLs clickable.
#7 EVENT SEARCH: Sorting through Events by date or topic was advertised but not functional so users were forced to view a barrage of listings only narrowed by requested search radius. Users could only classify their events as Volunteer or Fundraising not Social or Outreach. In fact, the only way to find events is under the Volunteer heading of the home page.
#8 EVENT PROMOTION: After first debate no emails were sent to supporters about watch parties in their neighborhood and rare mention of events on social media and NO ability to view RSVPs on the web site or use of facebook or eventbrite tools to increase interest beyond a core group of guests.
#9 ELECTION DAY DISABLED FEATURES: Grassroots events were suddenly no longer visible on the Obama web site as everyone was directed to canvass-only events. They were only searchable if you knew to go to www.barackobama.com/events. Also, ALL mybo groups were removed from the site and their email addresses were no longer functional. This rendered any communication about Election Night Parties among supporters impossible for web site users. This sounds ridiculous but possibly occurred because of web site traffic distractions yet their is no excuse for silencing your supporter network at the height of the campaign.
#10 POST-ELECTION DAY: Currently, even more web site features have been disabled as pretty much all that is left is an email sign up and fundraising platform.”
“With the Arlington Young Democrats, Northern Virginia for Obama, Generation Obama and now Network For Progress I have seen people strive to use social and media-savvy tactics that make organizing more effective with the understanding that if we don’t build our capability we will fall behind. In 2012, we were victorious but did fall behind against competitors that in many ways were inferior than past election cycles and demographic trends further on our side.
“Whether it be the 150 people who connected with each other on our Northern Virginia for Obama facebook event to the Saturday Rally with President Obama and President Clinton in Bristow, VA, including the dozens who coordinated canvassing and carpooling, or the 35-person N4P phone bank advertised on the Obama web site and social media on Election Eve, the Best Practice lessons are everywhere. This is how we helped start the campaign in Virginia in 2007.
“Reports indicate this is no accident as since Rahm Emanual became Chief of Staff their has been a lack of interest in maximizing the potential of the President’s 13 Million BarackObama.com email list, 23 Million Twitter followers and 33 Million Facebook fans because “old school” Democratic operatives watered down the Movement for Hope and Change that won the Presidency.
“This is why we need to be an Advocate, Community and Resource for the grassroots to NETWORK FOR PROGRESS. But we need the party to take up the cause as well to eventually plug people into winning campaigns other than OFA.
“Now is the time to move beyond worshiping one great communicator and organizer by building a network of millions of Barack Obamas.”