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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The Economist Swing State Series (or, My Rant About the Kerry Campaign)

Posted by DavidNYC

The Economist is starting a new series, taking an in-depth look at each of the major swing states. (Man, they're gonna put me outta business!) Ohio is the first one. The bad news: John Kerry's campaign there is a "shambles" - yikes, he still hasn't opened his first office there? I'm pretty damn shocked to learn that. I kvetched about this a month ago, but I figured for sure he's have set up shop in Ohio by now. I mean, he's raised a boatload of cash. So what gives?

Well, I went over to the Kerry website and checked out their "contact us" page. They have offices in precisely TWO swing states: Florida and Iowa. The rest? California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Texas. Texas? What the hell? Anyhow, The Economist, so far, was right: nothing in Ohio (or New Mexico, Missouri, Oregon, etc.).

So I decided to call the main HQ here in DC, to see if maybe the website wasn't updated, or if there were smaller offices that for some reason weren't getting billed on that page. The call goes straight to an automatic recording (already a bad sign) which says "normal business hours" are from 9am to 9pm. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. "Normal business hours" in this line of work are 24-hours-a-fucking-day. I mean, have these people never heard of Bill Clinton, "rapid response," and The War Room?

It gets better, though: "No one is available to take your call," the voice mail system tells me. I can't even wait on hold! I have to leave a message. But oh wait - the general mailbox is full. So I can't leave a message. That is just rank incompetence. Maybe "shambles" is the right word. I mean, I dealt with crap like this often enough on the Dean campaign, but the one thing we were told we could expect of Kerry was that his operation was crisp, professional and attentive to detail. It hardly felt that way to me this afternoon.

Anyhow, the semi-good news is that ACT has opened up 20 offices in Ohio and seems to be picking up some of the slack. But that's no substitute for a real campaign operation, especially when, as the Economist notes, Ohio is an "horrifically expensive state to campaign in, with three big metropolitan areas and six different big media markets."

We need boots on the ground there - and volunteers answering the phones here - right away, Sen. Kerry.

(Economist link thanks to Luke.)

UPDATE: Luke also informs me that the Kerry campaign just announced that their "first wave" of field staff has just deployed to Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Arizona, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. Better late than never, I suppose - but still no Ohio on the list.

Posted at 05:17 PM in General | Technorati


Not cool. This was going on in the primaries too. Trust me, I tried to volunteer with him in late 2002! Still, the poll numbers look good, and it still isn't too late. What has to happen is some good grassroots organizing...or else...

Posted by: steve at May 12, 2004 05:28 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Hmm..that doesn't sound too good. The office in Texas is rather shocking! I have a difficult time believing that Kerry has even the slightest chance of winning Texas. Texas is not a true Republican stronghold and I laud the effort to regain inroads in Texas, but I doubt that any progress is going to help Kerry in 2004.

Kerry's campaign is looking too similar to Wesley Clarks failed bid for the Democrat nomination. However, it is still early in the process.

Thanks for the report!

Posted by: LiberlAce at May 12, 2004 06:03 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I have a feeling the Texas office (like the New York and California offices) exist to largely if not solely to raise money.

Posted by: DavidNYC at May 12, 2004 06:14 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Typical of the corpratization of the Democratic party. Regional field office, instead of ones on the grassroots level in battleground states. If Kerry loses this fall, you'll know why, because of disconnected moves like this. Clinton won on charisma and being able to connect with voters. Kerry better get a clue.

Posted by: Rock_nj at May 12, 2004 07:00 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I saw this comment in the Kerry blog in response to that field staff announcement:

I am deeply and seriously concerned about some information my wife, Gina, learned when she attended the most recent Citizens for Progressive Change (CPC) meeting in Cincinnati. A report from someone representing the Democracy For America (DFA) organization indicated that DFA's visit to the Kerry Ohio folks in Columbus, Ohio resulted in the strong impression that Kerry Ohio folks were disorganized. Further, the Kerry Ohio folks indicated that now is too early to start doing anything significant to prepare for the general election.

We all know that Ohio is a CRITICAL state for Kerry to win. It's going to be about door-to-door type stuff. ACT is working hard already in Ohio. So is CPC and DFA. Why is the main Kerry group in Columbus not doing the same? My wife and I have our local precinct voter registration records and we are planning to be knocking on every door possible to register voters and get people lined up to be volunteers.

Maybe those of you in Ohio who KNOW it's not too early could go contact the campaign en masse? Or form your own organization.

Posted by: Theresa in Oakland at May 12, 2004 07:33 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

That's a good point about Texas. In addition, I would guess that Texas is home to many regional media outlets for the Southwest.

I still worry that Kerry won't give proper attention to the 6 EVs of Arkansas, which I continue to believe is more winnable than others, such as Arizona. In addition, I'm not sure that Arkansas having 4 fewer EVs than Arizona or Missouri will make much a difference.

Posted by: LiberalAce at May 12, 2004 09:42 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Calm down. It is early. Why should Kerry spend money on staff and voter reg. when groups like ACT, MoveOn, the Media Fund, etc. are doing all his early work for him?

Remember Iowa? People who haven't decided yet aren't going to until after the convention (at least).

Oh, and just because there are no paid staffers in the field yet, that doesn't mean there aren't a hell of a lot of organized volunteers doing a hell of a lot of work.

Oh part 2, the Economist isn't the end-all-be-all of political analysis. Check out these articles saying the exact opposite about Kerry's chances:

(doesn't say that Kerry will nec. win, but it's the Repubs Neal profiles who are thinking of breaking ranks -- not the Dems)

Oh part 3, organization isn't everything. Remember Iowa, again.

Posted by: Matt at May 13, 2004 11:41 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Yeah, but Kerry showing a lead in Ohio for now. And Ohio has a tradition of picking winners.

Posted by: shimamoto at May 13, 2004 03:23 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment