During the final days of the campaign, volunteers have signed up for nearly 700,000 shifts working out of thousands of hyperlocal staging areas. Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter and national field director Jeremy Bird identified the three big tasks for the field program as being to expand the electorate, persuade undecided voters, and turn out supporters, and, according to Cutter, "On all three fronts we've blown away the most optimistic expectations." It's for that reason that Cutter expressed confidence about the president's reelection, though she also stressed that the campaign was taking nothing for granted and that the hard work would continue as long as the polls were open.
The Obama campaign has registered nearly 1.8 million new voters, almost twice as many as in 2008, and those voters have been turning out for early voting in battleground states like North Carolina. Throughout, the field campaign has emphasized personal, local contact, keeping volunteers in their own communities having one-on-one conversations with newly registered voters, undecided voters, and sporadic voters who need to be motivated to get to the polls.
Cutter had some messages for Obama supporters (beyond, of course, voting and volunteering): First, remember that any voter who is in line before polling places are scheduled to close is entitled to vote. If you're in line as poll closing times arrive, stay in line.
Second, as you wait for election returns to begin coming in, remember the early vote and stay calm. Election day always features anecdotal reporting comparing turnout in Republican and Democratic strongholds and often includes leaked, unweighted exit polls as well. Because the Obama campaign has worked so hard to bank early votes, especially from new voters and those who don't vote in every election, those votes may not be reflected in leaked exit polling. So stay calm. The GOTV operation has done what it was supposed to do. Lots of votes are in the bag. If the early reporting doesn't keep up with this new early vote-driven reality, the Obama campaign is confident that everything needed to ensure victory has happened, is happening, and will keep happening.
Now, if you're not among those who have voted: Go vote.
Click "continue reading" for extended notes from the call.
These are my notes taken during the call; they are as closely paraphrased as my typing speed permitted, and I've tried to indicate where I missed anything substantial, though I believe on this call much of what I missed was iterations of talking points I did capture elsewhere in the notes.
Stephanie Cutter: You've been working around the clock and I know we've got a lot more work ahead in the next 36 hours. Thanks for being out there talking directly to voters about president's vision and plan, rallying supporters for final push, etc.
We're not taking anything for granted, not resting until race is called with a decisive victory for the president. All of the key surrogates—the Obamas, the Bidens, President Clinton, are on the campaign trail for the final push. Today the president started with a rally in Madison with Bruce Springsteen, he's now in Columbus with Springsteen and Jay-Z. He'll do a close-out rally tonight in Iowa where it sort of all began with the primary victory four and a half years ago.
One day out, volunteers are working hard. We're talking a lot about our volunteer operation. That operation is why we believe the president will win 270 electoral votes tomorrow. I want to dive deeper and explain what we're doing and why we're doing it so well.
Saturday morning, 5,177 staging locations in all the battleground states began to execute our ground game. These staging locations are more localized versions of field offices. From these hyperlocal Obama hubs, volunteers signed up for nearly 700,000 shifts to get out the vote over the final four days, and that number is growing by the minute. Volunteer-led GOTV staging locations embody what the campaign is all about. Our neighborhood team leaders have been working in their areas for months if not years. Jim Messina has told a story of a woman telling people in her community that she'd been there for years and then the Romney campaign just showed up recently.
The field program has three big tasks:
Expanding the electorate
Persuading undecided voters
Turning out supporters
On all three fronts we've blown away the most optimistic expectations.
Thanks for everything you've done. You guys hold a stake in the organization. On the things Stephanie identified:
Registering new voters—We've registered nearly 1.8 million voters in key battleground states, almost double the 2008 number. The great thing is they're already turning out. Almost 30 percent have already voted in six key early vote states. In North Carolina for example, nearly 140,000 new voters have already voted.
Persuading undecided voters—We've had millions of conversations with persuadable voters, in combination with targeted digital advertising, doing digital follow-up with an email after a conversation at the door, following up on the issue they said they cared most about. We've made more than 125 million personal phone calls or door knocks. These are not robocalls or mailers, they're actual personal outreach from volunteer. Many campaigns favor quantity over quality, but we don't look at it that way. Our goal is to make a difference, to do it at the local level with local volunteers who have ownership of the campaign and what they're doing. We've had the largest and most sophisticated training effort, of both staff and volunteers and held trainings all across the country.
Turning out supporters—Thanks to early voting we've been able to be turning out supporters for over a month in states like Iowa. We've focused on turning out the people least likely to vote, so we need to make sure to get them information about when and where to vote. Non-midterm-voting Democrats are outpacing Republicans in every state with early voting and partisan registration. The math is clear, our opponent is losing among early voters in nearly every public poll. He would have to win the election day vote by big margins across these states. And our volunteers will log into our reporting system and open GOTV hubs. They're not just driving miles to an office and being handed a headset and told to make calls. They're going to be knocking on the doors of people they registered to vote or persuaded to vote, and then directing them to their local polling places that they're familiar with from living there. This is a big difference between the campaigns.
Stephanie Cutter: We've come a long way on the journey. We have work left to do, we're pleased with where we are but not taking anything for granted. We have 24-36 hours to go before we can rest.
Please help us spread the word about how to vote. [She identified vote.barackobama.com as the best source of information, but we've seen reports of problems with its information about polling locations.]
We're making sure everyone knows as long as they're in line when the polls are scheduled to close, they can still vote. Stay in line and you can vote. This is critical.
Keep calm and tweet on. Early voting shows that giving people more and better opportunities to express themselves is good. Republicans may have saved the lion's share of their vote for election day, but we're confident that won't overcome the fact that we've banked the votes we need to win. So don't panic about reporting of heavy voting in Republican areas or leaked exit polls that don't take this into account.
Question from Chris Savage: What happens to OFA after the election, to this structure you've built?
Jeremy Bird: [Opened by thanking Chris for his writing and his volunteering] We don't know the details but we know this: my first boss in politics was on a campaign that spent millions, lost, and left nothing behind. We've always built our campaign differently from that and we're going to continue. Will we leave a generation of people like JFK that go on to run for office? I don't know, but one thing I know for sure is we will leave a generation of organizers, and we're going to make sure we help facilitate that one way or another.
Question from Jeff Simpson: Where will the president and vice president be watching election results? Will there be a gathering like four years ago?
Jeremy Bird: They'll both be here in Chicago. I don't know where they'll be watching but the president will be giving a speech at the McCormick center. Across the country people will be gathering in staging locations.
Stephanie Cutter: The president will be watching at home, then come over to join us toward the end of the results coming in.
Question from Amanda Terkel: With the long lines for early voting, how concerned are you about situations like this on election day? Do you have a system to monitor/deal with problems?
Jeremy Bird: If you're talking about an enthusiasm gap, look no further than those lines in Florida and Ohio. Clearly we're doing everything we can to alleviate those lines and we have folks on the ground with entertainment. One good thing is there are fewer voters left to vote on election day which in 2008 really helped. There will still be lines, and we have a great legal team on the ground as well as a great field team to make sure people are kept in line and alert us to any problems.
Stephanie Cutter: A large portion of the vote in these states is in. In Florida about 49 percent of the ballots expected are in, and we expect it to go up. That percentage was higher in 2008, but we had more early voting days then. In Iowa about 40 percent have already voted. Colorado is almost up to 70 percent, we think. In Nevada it's well over 60 percent. In Ohio in 2008 it was 30 percent; we think it will be 35 percent this time. These results are a big investment on our part. All this goes back to my warning about the need to stay calm throughout the day, so if things leak out that aren't validated or weighted, please stay calm. You need to add early vote tabs into that.