President Obama’s aides have quietly turned the key in the engine of the massive campaign-in-waiting that’s been operating under the name Organizing for America for the last two years, and will begin his re-election with the sort of online and field organizations most presidential campaigns would be glad to have 16 months from now.
The leadership of the field organization – with hundreds of employees, tens of thousands of volunteers and massive online assets (primarily, a giant email list) – is shifting from the Democratic National Committee to the new campaign in Chicago. And in mass emails and in a quiet series of one-on-one meetings with volunteer leaders, the group is resetting its relationship with its supporters.
“Nothing like this has ever happened this early or this big,” said Natalie Foster, a former DNC new media director.
Obama’s re-election campaign may lack the novelty, and the purity, of his first campaign. Aides hope, though, that any enthusiasm gap – which they believe will close as the race begins to take shape – will be made up for by the sheer scale and capacity of the newly re-tuned organization.
The online operation, intrinsic to both field and fund-raising operations of the re-election campaign, has also been quietly gearing up. An email message and no-frills video from campaign manager Jim Messina earlier this week returned the messaging to its successful roots in wonky, direct, gimmick-free, and openly political discussions with core supporters.
And the online organization will operate with new tools. Facebook integration, for instance, will offer the campaign “a much sharper scalpel” for slicing its email list – still its key online asset — into segments based on all sorts of personal details.
Leaders of Organizing for America seemed to have learned the lessons of the past and have spent less time in recent years hyping the group’s scale and accomplishments. That’s a pattern, insiders say, that’s likely to continue.