I finished David Plouffe's book a few days ago and whether you think it was due to some left over bitterness of McCain's campaign or not, the book really fades at the end. As opposed to the Primary Season, Plouffe seems to rush through the last 70 pages of the book and becomes quite cynical.
The biggest take aways I have from those last 70 pages are that Obama raised a TON of cash and this allowed his campaign to put states into play that Democrats would historically avoid and Obama's Digital Team of 90 people led by Joe Rospars continued to work their magic in email, attack videos (Keating 7), and online grassroots organizing. So this really started me to ask myself, how much of the win was due to Obama as a candidate and Rospars as an internet guru and less about your every day tactics of running a campaign? Anyway.....
- Plouffe talks about how important Sarah Palin's nomination was for fund raising and volunteering for Obama. However, as I wrote a while back, Palin was very important to McCain's campaign when it came to energizing the conservative base and delivering donations. No matter what you think, Palin was not one of the top 3 reasons McCain lost to Obama.
- Plouffe talked about McCain ignoring Virginia until the last minute and quite frankly I think he hammers the campaign too much. Did we lose VA? Yes. However, we were outgunned when it came to money and enthusiasm, so I'm sure (I wasn't part of any discussion, but I did hear some things) the executive staff thought that if we lost Virginia, we likely lost the election anyway.
- Page 326 is the most eye opening page in the entire book. This is where Plouffe recounts raising $150 million in September; they added 2.3 million supporters bringing their digital contact list to 11 million (in September) and he recounts how their internet advertising brought in several dollars almost immediately (I talked about McCain raising $4 for every $1 spent, but for most months it was higher than that in search). They raised a whopping $100 million online. Plouffe then writes this line which sums up 2 out of the top 4 reasons McCain lost "Almost all campaigns never have enough money or people to do what they'd like....Not this campaign. It's like fantasy camp for political operatives."
- And that's pretty much how the campaign ended for McCain. With money pouring in Obama could advertise (and advertise a lot) wherever he wanted, opening up states that Democrats historically ignored. Coupled with Rospars online grassroots organizing, online advertising, and use of YouTube and Facebook, Obama was able to expand the field by putting tools at people's disposal that make it easy for volunteers to organize.
- The last top 2 reasons we lost occurs around September 15 which was the economy blowing up. This was our final nail in the coffin as no Republican could be competitive with President Bush's approval rating and the economy going south. Plouffe pointed out how Senator McCain said "the fundamentals of our economy remain strong" and while that definitely hurt, it really didn't matter by then. The damage was done.
- Plouffe also points out some "tricks" the campaign tried including Joe The Plumber as well as the suspension of the campaign. I didn't view either of these as being tricks, especially Joe The Plumber because the wealth distribution strategy of Obama is being played out today. The real reason why Joe Plumber didn't resonate more is that early voting had kicked in and a significant amount of people already casted their votes. It just didn't happen earlier enough in the campaign, but it was hardly a trick.
- Finally, on to Bill Ayers. We (as part of the RNC) ran tons of ads online on Obama's association. The RNC built a mock Facebook page called Barack Book (Cyrus Krohn's idea) and we spent millions in advertising dollars driving to that page. We also ran dollars highlighting ACORN. I personally built the search campaigns around these sites and Ayers, ACORN, and other future czars and questionable associations were featured. We still lost. Don't tell me we didn't talk enough about this. The facts are, enough people didn't care or didn't want to believe the association - unfortunately a lot of them do now.
That's it on Plouffe's book. Call me bitter or not, but the end of the book felt rushed and a little cynical. I personally believe that Obama was the perfect candidate and they had a great Digital team led by Joe Rospars that made a lot of great moves at the right time. Without all of that money, all of the great use of Digital, an economy that imploded. and an unpopular President Bush, perhaps McCain had a chance. Unfortunately, reading Plouffe's book proved to me that without a miracle, the match was over by the middle of September.