Today I got into Portland, OR where I am going to be an Obama Organizing Fellow for the next six weeks. I went over to the Portland headquarters to meet campaign staff. I met a retired man who has been volunteering full time 50+ per week for the campaign since March! Tomorrow the 3 full day crash course in organizing begins.
I was amazed to read in the Washington Post that there are 3600 Obama organizing fellows across the country. The WaPo is calling it "a measure of [Sen. Barack Obama's] to out-organize Sen. John McCain in states that could swing a close election." I do not really think that "Out-Organize" does it justice though. That implies that Obama staffers are just better organizers, rather than the sheer mass of people working full time to get Obama elected. The Obama campaign already had 800 campaign staff to McCain's 200. For the next six weeks we will have a staff advantage of 4400 to 200. That is a 22 to 1 advantage! The closest sports metaphor I can come up with is if you played a soccer game in which one team was allowed 22 players on the field, while the other only got a goalie. All they have is a goalie, so they will constantly be on defense while we are constantly on offense.
Alright, enough will the sports metaphors, but this does represent a massive advantage our campaign has in grassroots organizing over McCain. If you missed the McCain "strategy briefing" on how they are going to win the election (it's a good laugh, complete with manipulated charts and made up polling numbers) they talk about lower costs due to fewer staff. While true, the Obama campaign is generally frugal and has the money to hire the extra field staff. Considering that the Obama organizing fellows are not being paid though, it is going to be interesting to see how they spin the 22 to 1 staffing deficit that we've created for the next six weeks.