Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

HILLARY'S OPERATION....From Chris Cillizza:

To date, Obama has 19 offices in 13 states where Feb. 5 primaries are scheduled, including the campaign's newest satellite office in Fargo, North Dakota....Clinton, by contrast, has five total offices currently open in Feb. 5 states — two in California, and one each in New Jersey, New York and Arkansas.

Cillizza bills this as evidence that Obama thinks the primary season will still be in full swing after January, which is fair enough, but it's the flip side that surprises me the most: Hillary only has five offices up and running so far in the Feb. 5 states? Why? She has plenty of money, she has a top notch campaign operation, ten weeks isn't very long for regional offices to get fully staffed and functional, and she can't possibly believe with any confidence that the whole thing is going to be over by the end of January. So why wait so long to begin serious local organizing?

Kevin Drum 11:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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[This was a handle hijack by American Hawk]

Posted by: Al on November 28, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

To find out how the strike helps Hillary when she deserves none of it, check out this new hit piece on Hillary at http://thirdrailradio.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Chuck on November 28, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, I'm struck by the careful rhetoric of Fake Al. Note that he didn't simply list terrorist acts. He called them: acts of war. Nifty. And impossible, of course, for stateless actors.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on November 28, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Hillary needs a heavy ground game beyond Iowa and New Hampshire. Once those two are over, especially if she wins either or both, then she just needs to dump all her cash into ads and sweep the remaining primaries.

Obama has open offices because he thinks he can win Iowa and continue on. Hillary doesn't because she thinks she can win Iowa and end the primary right there.

Posted by: August J. Pollak on November 28, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Or in shorter form, yes. Hillary truly does think she'll have this wrapped up by January.

Posted by: August J. Pollak on November 28, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

I guess my own question is how important such local offices might be to a campaign nowadays.

I'm not suggesting they aren't; I genuinely just don't know. And, not knowing, I'm not sure whether Hillary's lack of those offices signifies anything important.

Posted by: frankly0 on November 28, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Um: number of delegates? If offered the choice between California's delegates and North Dakota's, I'd pick California's.

If you're having to scrap for North Dakota (no offence), the wheels really have come off...

Posted by: Andrew on November 28, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Do brick-and-mortar offices really matter very much in the age of the netroots?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Do brick-and-mortar offices really matter very much in the age of the netroots?"

Absolutely, they matter a great deal. The machinery of in-state politics hasn't changed as much as some think, or hope. To think otherwise is delusional.

Posted by: Billy Bob Schranzburg on November 28, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

If you're having to scrap for North Dakota (no offence), the wheels really have come off...

That's probably true.

My own guess is that the reason Obama has so many more offices is so that his campaign can talk them up.

Posted by: frankly0 on November 28, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

The reason I asked is because Obama is the only candidate with an office in my city, but I am not seeign more Obama bumper stickers and lawn signs. I see a bit of Obama, but the lawn signs and bumper stickers are mostly Hillary and Ron Paul.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Agree with most here, including Billy Bob. The internet is new mainly for raising cash. Other than that, it's all the same ground operations. Just ask Howard Dean how his use of the internet "changed politics." (Changed except the part about getting a majority of people to come out and pull the lever for you.) And yes. Hillary is correct in thinking she has it nearly locked up.

Posted by: Pat on November 28, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

You have to be careful how you handle volunteers. Obama's got a ton of overexcited grass-roots types, and his campaign needs the help. So let them organize. It can't hurt.

Hillary's got a bunch of overfed brahmins, who can't be asked to expend any more energy than absolutely neccesary. So, you don't ask them to move until you really need to, or they'll burn out right when she really needs them. Of course, this is all moot because she's still sure she's got it locked up.

Posted by: cazart on November 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama wins IA and NH, he has to keep working, while HRC won't need to do anything to win the rest of the primaries, unless for some unknown reason the press keeps writing about it.

And then there's the point cazart makes.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot on November 28, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

"The campaign soon plans to open offices in Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Minnesota and Arizona, according to deputy communications director Phil Singer, and has held organizing meetings in 46 states."

Not knowing every state that is holding its primary on February 5, this comment may seem stupid, but is it possible that they've done everything but rented out the offices and put people in there? In other words, what if the Clinton campaign already has people working behind the scenes in the February 5 states?

The only other thing I can decipher from this is that she does plan to have it locked up early and that she's preparing for the general election. This seems more likely, based on the states that are listed above.

Posted by: Brian on November 28, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

In Missouri she is polling far and away ahead of all challengers, Democratic and Republican.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

If HRC wins Iowa with +3 lead over her nearest rival, game over.

A HRC second by a small margin (again, say 0 to -3) with the third candidate some distance back, she's in reasonable shape.

HRC third, and we're in George W Bush in New Hampshire territory. Expect all the gloves to come off then.

Posted by: Andrew on November 28, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

G.C. - according to your own link, she's basically ahead of her Republican counterparts with the same margins as Obama and Edwards. I can't see her carrying this state in the general, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: RollaMO on November 28, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see, Clinton currently leads Obama in California by 53% - 25% (or something close to that depending on which poll), so she should spend money she will need during the general election in California?

Obama needs to spend money in California because he's getting slaughtered by Clinton in that state and I suspect she has similar leads at least in New York.

Until the margin drops to single digits, it would be utterly foolish for Clinton to invest a single dime in that state.

Why then is it surprising, Kevin, that Clinton is refusing to unnecessarily waste resources on states well in hand, so she can either devote resources to earlier currently more important and less certain contests or save the money for the general election?

I don't think it's the Clinton campaign that is the dimwitted one here.

Posted by: anonymous on November 28, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Anonymous your right it's not the Clinton campaign that's the dimwitted ones here it's the people of New York and California.

Posted by: Gandalf on November 28, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

RollaMO - I live in the 5th, the bluest district in the state - in fact, I live in State Senate 10 - this state does not go any further left that where I live, either politically or geographically.

Hillary isn't my primary choice, but I will support whichever Democrat gets the nomination.

That said, I spend a lot of time up in the northern tier counties of the MO 06, and she is not hated up there like you would think. Who they do hate is Julie-Annie. The deerhunters that traipsed through my kitchen to drink coffee and use the bathroom recently could hardly say his name without spitting, but spoke of her with civility. (I know! Could have knocked me over with a feather, too!)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

One more thing about Missouri - in the upcoming general election, Matt Blunt is going to hurt Republicans all up and down the ticket.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Hill doesn't need trhe storefronts when she owns the airwaves and can reach out through the 'net. It's a changing world.

Posted by: LuigiDaMan on November 28, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

G.C. - agreed on Blunt. As you can imagine, it's a little different down here. The dittoheads will make fun of Obama's name, Edwards' haircut, but in general they shrug their shoulders. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, sends them into a frenzy. I envision more people turning out to vote against her than either of the other two.

Posted by: RollaMO on November 28, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

My Rolla experience is limited to attending my nephews graduation from college a few years ago.

What struck me about the folks up north was that every foam-flecked dittohead that hates her, there is a wife/sister/mother who is quietly thrilled and will be supporting her.

I might be quizotic, but I believe that MO will go Democratic next year because there are enough Democrats in St. Louis and K.C. to go with those rural voters and carry it - like 2006 with Claire and Amendment 2.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

OK, last of the Missouri talk here, but for those outside this state, it is a microcosm of the nation, liberal coasts, more convservative interior, north vs. south, etc.

G.C., let's hope you're right.

Posted by: RollaMO on November 28, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I envision more people turning out to vote against her than either of the other two.

I've mostly been of Kevin's long ago expressed opinion that as people actually see Clinton and discover she is not the caricature the wingnuts have created for her, she will lose a lot of her negative ratings.

However, it is true (and I hadn't thought of this until you pointed it out) that she may drive more Republican turnout in what may otherwise be a lackluster event for Republican voters.

Posted by: jayackroyd on November 28, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I get the impression if Hillary wanted to open 35 new offices next week she could do so, and could probably get them open and running at full potential in about 4 days. If there's one thing her organization is, it's efficient.

Posted by: Fred F. on November 28, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

One more last word about Missouri - your description of us as a microcosm of the nation is truly apt. The MO 06 is a unique beast of a district and folks there might not be all that representative of the rest of the rural areas. CAFO's and SCHIP has them looking away from the R's like I haven't seen sence Reagan wooed them with pandering and "states rights" rhetoric. Jack Cardetti needs to get his ass in gear and reopen some county offices and take advantage of that fact, damnit!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding Blue Girl's comment on Julie-Annie's prospects in the South, I have never believed the good ole boys will turn out to vote for a fast-talking Yankee that supported gun control. Thats just asking too much.

Posted by: sceptic on November 28, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Sceptic, they just might if the other option is a fast-talking Yankee who also supports gun control, and is named Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: RollaMO on November 28, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

RollaMO - have you been to Show Me Progress yet? Good coverage of state issues there.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Historically, the primaries sometimes are effectively over after Iowa and New Hampshire.

Also, HRC's campaign may have decided the race with be an air war after the first few states.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

But maybe the Q should be why's Obama got so many ground operations?

Perhaps his campaign of engaging lots of regular folk needed to give them something to do? And the campaign opened some offices just because it felt it had to.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on November 28, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"....From Chris Cillizza"

I believe it was at this point the post went awry. Mr Cillizza is a man desperate for something to type and his personal opinions, when they peek through, are invariably pro-GOP.

Posted by: david on November 28, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Clinton, to borrow from George H.W., expects to have the Big Mo after Iowa/NH.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 28, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: The Grim Reaper on November 28, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm in northern VA, which is one of the most technological sophisticated areas of the country. The new economy has changed politics, but it still isn't powerful enough on its own to win the election. The ground game still matters absolutely -- it's one of the reasons we've started turning VA from red to blue -- Dems have really improved their ground game in the state, especially in voter-rich counties such as Fairfax, Prince William and Loudon.

Posted by: geml on November 28, 2007 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

What August J. Pollak said. The Clinton organization is so certain that the nomination is in the bag that they see no reason to waste resources on Plan B. Conversely, if Hillary does not carry Iowa and New Hampshire, the shock to her campaign will be such that she will be unlikely to recover. If the Clintons decide to roll out the big guns at that point, it may well backfire.

If you ask me, Hillary (let alone the media) is already acting as if the primary race is over.

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