Groundbreakers: How Obama's 2.2 Million Volunteers by Elizabeth McKenna

By Elizabeth McKenna

A lot has been written in regards to the old nature of the Obama crusade. The multi-year, multi-billion buck operation elected the nation's first black president, raised and spent more cash than the other election attempt in heritage, and outfitted the main refined voter focusing on know-how ever ahead of used on a countrywide crusade. what's lacking from so much debts of the crusade is an knowing of the way Obama for the USA recruited, inspired, constructed, and controlled its ambitious military of 2.2 million volunteers. not like prior box campaigns that drew their strength from employees, experts, and paid canvassers, the Obama campaign's means got here from unpaid neighborhood electorate who took accountability for organizing their very own neighborhoods months--and even years--in increase of election day. In so doing, Groundbreakers argues, the crusade engaged voters within the paintings of practising democracy. How did they set up such a lot of volunteers to supply lots beneficial paintings for the crusade? This ebook describes how.

Elizabeth McKenna and Hahrie Han argue that the legacy of Obama for the USA extends past giant information and micro-targeting; it additionally reinvigorated and accelerated conventional versions of box campaigning. Groundbreakers makes the case that the Obama crusade altered conventional floor video games by means of adopting the rules and practices of neighborhood organizing. Drawing on in-depth interviews with OFA box employees and volunteers, this e-book additionally argues key fulfillment of the OFA's box organizing used to be its transformative impression on those that have been part of it. Obama the candidate may have encouraged volunteers to hitch the crusade, however it used to be the pleasant relationships that volunteers had with different people--and their deep trust that their paintings mattered for the paintings of democracy--that stored them energetic.

Groundbreakers documents how the Obama crusade has encouraged a brand new means of working box campaigns, with classes for nationwide and overseas political and civic pursuits.

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Extra resources for Groundbreakers: How Obama's 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America

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Why do we care about unpacking the mechanics of the Obama ground game? There are a number of reasons. First, from a practical standpoint, OFA introduced a model for grassroots campaigning that other campaigns have already begun to emulate in local, domes­tic, and international settings. Second, it informs popular discussions about the Obama campaign that have thus far overlooked how OFA was able to generate so much high-quality volunteer involvement. Third, unpacking the Obama ground game has implications for scholarship in a wide range of fields seeking to understand how organizations of any kind recruit, motivate, and develop volunteers, leaders, and staff.

These campaigns win without investing in citizens’ capacity to make change, or to be leaders in their communities. ” In such campaigns, volunteers, when available, do not have responsibility for any real outcomes and are sometimes viewed as a drain on resources rather than an asset. In 2008, the conditions were ripe for OFA to break from the norm and blend practices of grassroots organizing with electoral campaigning. The late 1990s had seen a revived interest in the power of the ground game. With each federal election cycle, campaigns on both sides of the political spectrum tried new field strategies, learned from their mistakes, and refined their work for the next election.

17 This transition, scholars contend, spurred significant changes in American political processes and consciousness. ”18 These reforms weakened local party organizations and opened presidential primaries to greater popular pressure. In 1952, there were presidential primaries in only 16 states; in 1976, there were primaries in over two dozen. In 2008, all 50 states had primaries or caucuses. Obama and Clinton carried 29 and 21 primary or caucus states, respectively, nearly all of which were consequential in the final tally of delegates.

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