Friday, December 05, 2008

Campaign Postmortem: New voters elected Barack Obama

Steve Hildebrand, Obama deputy campaign manager, said he is firmly convinced that it was the campaign’s success in registering new voters that flipped the election. New voters determined the outcome in 8 to 9 states, he said.

“If we hadn’t had this very aggressive, very targeted voter registration effort, then Obama wouldn’t have been president,” Hildebrand said.

In one-on-one interviews between sessions of a Post-Election Conference in Lawrence, Kan., Hildebrand said new voter registrations were the margin of victory in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. New registrations may have also determined the outcome in Pennsylvania, he said.

The campaign’s overwhelming field operation facilitated the new voter registration and increased turnout. (How big was the field campaign? See below)

Comparing voter registration to the margin of victory provides the proof.

In Florida, for example, the Obama campaign registered 900,000 new voters. Before that registration drive, Democrats had a 650,000 registration advantage in the state.

“We won by 230,00,” Hildebrand said. “I think it’s pretty easy to see that if we hadn’t done that registration, we wouldn’t have won Florida.”

In Virginia, Obama lost the white vote by 23 percent, yet “Democrats in a Republican state turned out at an 8 percent higher rate than Republicans.”

The youth vote also helped cement the victory.

After the Obama voter registration drive in Colorado, voters under the age of 30 represented a larger portion of the electorate in that state than voters aged 60 and older.

“That’s unprecedented in American politics. If you look at virtually every battleground state in the country, voters 18 to 29 represented a higher portion of the vote than those 65 plus. Colorado was 60 plus. Other states were 65 plus. Those were new registrants.”

An aside: How overwhelming was Obama’s field campaign?

At the Post-Election conference, veteran GOP operative Ed Rollins of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush fame; and John McCain strategists Sarah Simmons and Christian Ferry said they were stunned when they heard at the Lawrence conference about the details of Obama’s operation.

I now return you to the non-political geeky part of your day.

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