Obama’s ground game advantage

The Washington Post finds that, as the presidential contest heads into its final weeks, Democratic campaign workers outnumber Republicans nearly three to one. In the swing states of Ohio and Nevada, the Democrats’ advantage is considerably larger. And nationwide, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have transferred $50 million to swing states to open field offices and hire campaign organizers, compared to $8 million sent by Romney and the Republican National Committee to state parties.

The Post says that this gap reflects philosophical differences in the approaches of the two campaigns:

Obama is spending earlier and investing more in his state campaign infrastructure, putting a bigger emphasis on person-to-person contact with potential voters. Romney and Republicans are focusing more on advertising and stockpiling funds, anticipating a significant and growing money advantage in the fall. The GOP candidate and his allies — the party and independent groups — have $105 million more sitting in bank accounts than the Democrats. For the period after the conventions, they could easily outspend Democrats two to one, with most of it likely to go to more television ads.

The problem with the Romney approach is that Obama and the Dems have been significantly outspending the Romney and the Republicans on advertising for months. So the Republicans will be playing catch-up on this front, with an electorate increasingly turned off by wall-to-wall political ads. Meanwhile, the Democrats apparently will be outspending the Republicans on the “retail” front.

Republican strategists tell the Post that Obama’s ground game spending will not help him. But, according to the Post, it has already helped produce a new voter registration advantage for the Democrats in Nevada.

To be sure, Republican strategist Ed Rogers is correct in saying that a “synthetic, steroid-driven” voter turnout campaign is less valuable than the “romantic enthusiasm” Obama relied on four years ago. But that sort of enthusiasm is a once in a lifetime kind of thing. In an ordinary year, having more boots on the ground than the other guy seems like an advantage, even if the boots are less animated by romanticism than before.

If the election is close, the Romney campaign may come to regret its apparent inferiority on the ground.


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