Sabato’s Crystal Ball: THE DEMOCRATIC GROUND GAME
From the time Barack Obama declared his candidacy for president, his campaign realized it would benefit from what came to be called the enthusiasm gap. “In most campaigns, it’s a challenge to drag people out,” Western States Field Director Buffy Wicks told a group of volunteer organizers gathered in San Francisco last summer.
“We’re not that campaign,” Wicks added.
A year before the January 2008 Iowa caucuses, Obama’s rallies were already drawing massive crowds and the Illinois senator inspired more excitement within the Democratic Party’s activist base than any candidate in recent memory.
The campaign realized, however, “that enthusiasm alone will not win the nomination.” As part of an effort to “channel… enthusiasm into an organization capable of delivering victories,” the campaign devoted considerable resources to volunteer recruitment and training, building a grassroots mobilization effort of unprecedented scope and sophistication.