Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Clinton Campaign Prepares for a Long Primary


Clinton supporters in Iowa. Credit: Sam Hodgson for The New York Times (source)

by Gaius Publius

I thought the following was interesting, in that it contained information I wasn't aware of. I too had heard that the Clinton campaign "had at least one paid staff member in all 50 states" and assumed that meant they had staffed up much more fully than the Sanders campaign, especially given their greater resources and greater experience at national campaigning.

As it turns out, my assumption wasn't true. According to a piece in the New York Times by Amy Chozick, the Clinton campaign is much more narrowly concentrated geographically, with most staff in either Iowa or the campaign headquarters. Does this mean they counted on an early victory, where a sweep or near sweep of the first few states would allow them to campaign much more lightly against a staggering Sanders campaign? If so, that may have been a valid assumption some time ago. It doesn't seem a valid assumption now.

In a piece whose main point is that the Clinton camp is prepared for a "long slog" and a battle that could "stretch into late April or early May," Amy Chozick writes this (my emphasis):
Even though the Clinton team has sought to convey that it has built a national operation, the campaign has invested much of its resources in the Feb. 1 caucuses in Iowa, hoping that a victory there could marginalize Mr. Sanders and set Mrs. Clinton on the path to the nomination. As much as 90 percent of the campaign’s resources are now split between Iowa and the Brooklyn headquarters, according to an estimate provided by a person with direct knowledge of the spending. The campaign denied that figure.
The last two sentences are important, especially the parts I highlighted. Unless this is a double-feint by the campaign, not unknown but somewhat rare, this is an actual leak that the campaign would rather not get out. Contrast this with the leaks in Patrick Healy's recent NYT piece, in which insiders seem, to my ears, to be speaking for the campaign to bolster it. There is no way the information above bolsters the campaign.

So this is likely true, at least according to the unnamed source: "As much as 90 percent of the campaign’s resources are now split between Iowa and the Brooklyn headquarters". There's certainly no judgment on my part; all campaigns use resources as they think best, and those decisions do or don't pan out well. But this is worth keeping in mind as the primary season plays out; it could keep the race closer than it might otherwise have been.

More from Chozick:
The campaign boasted last June, when Mrs. Clinton held her kickoff event on Roosevelt Island in New York, that it had at least one paid staff member in all 50 states. But the effort did not last, and the staff members were soon let go or reassigned. (Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said they had been hired as temporary workers to sign up volunteers at the start of the campaign, an effort he said had paid off organizationally.)

The focus on Iowa, which still haunts Mrs. Clinton after the stinging upset by Barack Obama there in 2008, has been so intense that even organizers in New Hampshire, which holds its primary on Feb. 9, have complained to the campaign’s leadership that they feel neglected.

On a call with supporters last week, Mrs. Clinton’s aides laid out a scenario in which the race against Mr. Sanders stretched through April, a prospect that they said would require about $50 million for a national ground operation and other expenses. ...

For all its institutional advantages, the Clinton campaign lags behind the Sanders operation in deploying paid staff members: For example, Mr. Sanders has campaign workers installed in all 11 of the states that vote on Super Tuesday. Mrs. Clinton does not, and is relying on union volunteers and members of supportive organizations such as Planned Parenthood to help her. ...
If this kind of play-by-play interests you, note the information in the last paragraph above, especially in light of Sanders' recent call for a Howard Dean–like 50-state strategy for the Democratic party as a whole. Note also that union volunteers and support organizations are valid sources of local GOTV resources.

Chozick then speculates on how this may play out:
The scramble after the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire will be intense. If Mrs. Clinton fails to win either state and her campaign seems to be stumbling, her donations could dry up. But a loss could also motivate donors who had viewed her nomination as a foregone conclusion.

Even if Mrs. Clinton wins in Iowa, where she maintains a slight lead in most polls, Mr. Sanders could receive an outpouring of small donations if the outcome is close that would help him compete in subsequent states.
The whole piece is a good read; do check it out for more. Regardless of who is your candidate, this race is getting interesting, to say the least.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. If you'd like to help him, click here. This page also lists every progressive incumbent and candidate who has endorsed him. You can adjust the split in any way you wish.)


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At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, this is delicious. It's like a repeat of 2008 - but worse: the Clinton Battleground Strategy on steroids. Clinton didn't lose in Iowa in 2008 because she didn't put enough resources into the state; I still have stamped postcards urging turnout targets to caucus for Hillary that were prepared but then distributed too late to use.

She lost Iowa because Iowa prime Dems didn't like her. She is not good at the retail, living-room politics Iowans demand. She is wooden. She prefers big venues and speeches and ads. Iowans don't much care for ads, and react against negative, desperate ones. She lost because Obama mounted a smart, massive movement of young voters - kind of like Bernie's there this year. But her assumption - and staffing reflected it - was that the nomination would be hers by Super Tuesday, so New Hampshire was fully staffed in parallel with Iowa. Sounds like she put all her eggs in the Iowa basket, and that she is going to lose New Hampshire big, with or without full staffing.

One little note of amateurism on Mook's part: if you sign up volunteers in, say, October and then don't call them until March, most will have lost interest and a lot are angry with you, so Hill's mock 50 state strategy may be a net negative. Delicious.

At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Encore plus délicieux! “Bill Clinton, according to a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation, has been phoning campaign manager Robby Mook almost daily to express concerns about the campaign’s organization in the March voting states, which includes delegate bonanzas in Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Texas” [Politico].

At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Exit 135 said...

But the H. Clinton campaign has received the endorsement of approximately 1/3 of the Democratic General Election Super Delegates. I suppose the candidate and its management team figure actual primary voters are for the little people.

At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can US haz short prosecution and swift justice, instead? She broke The LAW (jest like Chelsea)!

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think her organizing or deployment in all 50 states will matter much at all.

hilbillary has that one big anvil chained around her neck -- money. It's a blessing and a curse. Blessings because THEY hitched their lives to the money back in the '80s and it's gotten them 2 terms so far (in which they set the cornerstone of the current ongoing econopalooza for their donors). But it's a curse, for their party, since an awful lot of irregular voters NOW have a real viable option that isn't servile to the big money... and they appear eager to vote AGAINST hilbillary and the money.

They did this in 2008 also, but sadly, due to ignorance and a very short record upon which to base their votes, chose the black guy instead of Dennis Kucinich and maybe another primary candidate that actually would've been Bernie-like. The black guy, we found out almost immediately, was a hologram foisted upon us/US by the big money that had already bought him, stealthily.

If enough angry D voters show up, again, in Iowa and NH, it might be curtains for Ms. Inevitable... again... still... One can hope anyway.

But what with the already bought and pledged SUPER delegates in hilbillary's wallet, it'll take an OSO-sized (google it) landslide in the 50 for Bernie to get the nom in what might just be the most overtly corrupted D convention since '68.


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