You long time readers know that as part of Connell Donatelli I had a 3rd row seat to Senator McCain's Presidential run starting from online marketing his Straight Talk America PAC, through the Primaries including the summer 2007 blowup, and through the General Election. I was lucky to be part of a small group that made it all the way through.
That's why I was quite interested to read David Plouffe's book The Audacity to Win as he chronicles his management of President Obama's campaign from beginning to end. I got the book from Amazon about a week ago along with Chuck Todd's How Barack Obama Won (a book that looks at polling data state by state) which provides a helpful companion by looking at the end numbers. I'm about a third through the book, but here's some of my notes....
- Right from the very beginning they focused on Iowa - in fact I'm on page 103 and I'm still reading about Iowa. The reason was simple, using polling data they realized that Clinton was strong elsewhere and needed to show strong results out of the gate. This was different from my experience with the McCain campaign and while I wasn't there day to day so I could have missed something, I didn't hear much about Iowa until Rick Davis came back to the campaign in the summer of 2007 and then all we heard was early states...
- Speaking (really writing) about where I was located, Plouffe insisted early on that everyone be headquartered in Chicago to ease communications. When I read that, I felt lucky and sad at the same time. Lucky that I could work out of NJ for most of the time, but sad because I know I missed a lot. Knowing what I know now, if you want to make significant contributions in a Presidential campaign you need to move especially during the General if you get that far.
- At Obama's first two campaign stops he had over 10K people show up. 10K in Iowa at an event about a year before the caucus? There was no mention of a MeetUp tactic (like Dean's campaign) and those kind of numbers we would have killed for. In fact, we used to run Google Ads to drive people to signup for McCain's events prior to Palin's selection (didn't need that tactic anymore once she showed up). So for every bitter Republican that complains about our campaign, I can't think of a single Primary candidate that could bring 10K people to an event in Iowa 1 year before the caucus. Think about how that enthusiasm for Obama lasted into the General Election.
- The internet operations led by Joe Rospars reported directly into Plouffe showing how important it was to them. According to the book, funny enough at the time, the internet operations took heat for not raising enough money in the beginning. Also early on they asked for people to just signup on their website to get involved with the campaign. That was way different from my experience because right from day 1 the Search operations was geared towards raising money, which we did at an awesome rate of $4 in donations for every $1 we spent. We had plenty of plans for growing emails but time and time again we were asked to raise money.
- Very early on, the Obama online store for clothing and items was a huge success. We didn't have that luxury until probably the summer of 2008. Again this gave them a leg up on us a long time before the General Election - people showing support that early on...
Anyway that's it for now. I'll have more later