Obama’s Ground Game Advantage May Not Be As Big As It Looks

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

The chart below has been making the rounds over the past couple of days. It shows how many field offices each campaign has in the top ten swing states, and it’s pretty stunning. Obama has twice as many offices as Romney in Virginia. Twice as many in Florida. Three times as many in Iowa. And more than three times as many in Ohio.

What’s going on? Our working assumption should be twofold: (a) the Romney campaign has plenty of money, and (b) they aren’t idiots. So what’s the deal? I’ve been meaning to mention something about this, but today Seth Masket does it for me. He makes three suggestions, and I suspect the third one is probably correct:

He’s counting on field organizational efforts from the parties, church organizations, and other allied groups to do the same sort of things that the Obama offices are doing.

There’s been a disconnect in the ground games of the major parties for some time. Democrats tend to rely on paid, professional operations, while Republicans rely more on volunteer efforts, largely from evangelical churches. This is something that actually works in the Republicans’ favor, since volunteer efforts from friends and neighbors tend to be more effective at switching votes than professional phone banks. (Also cheaper.) On the other hand, the professional organizations are often more thorough, and are better at the actual logistics of getting people to the polls.

In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what’s happening here. This is just a difference in the way the parties handle elections these days, not necessarily an indication that the Obama organization is kicking Romney’s ass.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate