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Maybe winning the presidency is more like being a community organizer than being a CEO. Some CEOs (not the good ones, just many of the best paid ones) live in reality distortion fields. Good news travels up, bad news gets punished.

Obama's campaign started from a place of bad news. The economy is bad, and about half the electorate will blame the current president for that. It's unfair. Much of what Bill Clinton did right made the Bush years less terrible. Much of what Bush did made the Obama years scary.

Obama's campaign involved a large number of people. It was very different from 2008. In 2008, the Obama campaign had large advisory boards whose members became campaign surrogates, popping up everywhere. The message was spread widely, but not always accurately.

So in 2012, the Obama campaign limited the surrogates but increased the ground game. I attended a very small meeting at the law school I go to, where the Obama rep was very much on message. He recruited perhaps a dozen people from a school in New York to protect the vote in Pennsylvania (and one person went to Virginia).

Besides e-mails, that was really all I saw of the campaign, so I'm no insider.


What about Romney? I accept the theory of the founder and editor of the website TalkingPointsMemo:

Romney hired "professionals" to win the election for him. They told him they'd done the job, helping to create the reality distortion field.

1) The Super PACs couldn't make investments that would have helped the GOP: "it is very difficult for SuperPACs to invest in ground operations and get out of the vote work. So they’re pretty restricted to just TV, radio and internet ads."

2) The PACs ran out of advertising to buy. "lots of SuperPAC dollars are currently being poured into markets where they can have little or no effect on a contested race. So why is that?" So they bought ads in Chicago, which may have affected the PV, but did not affect the EV.

3) The PACs' first concern wasn't seeing Romney win. It was profit. The PACs were related to marketing agencies. The money came from a billionaire like Sheldon Adelson (Las Vegas) to a PAC, and then the PAC gave it to an agency that took a percentage, perhaps 10 percent, of every ad placed. So they had to place the ads -- anywhere.

Why can't the PACs do the ground game? Because it costs people. And people are expensive. Let's say you have $10M. You can be one person, and buy $9M in ads, with $1M back to you for placing the ad. Or you could hire people in Ohio at $10 / hour for 20 weeks * 50 hours per week = $10K per person (say $20K with expenses and benefits). So let's say you hire 450 people for $9M. Are you going to get to keep $1M for managing them? I think not. I think that at best you get to keep $50K for building a ground game, and maybe $10M if you participate in the ad campaign for 20 weeks.

So that's the problem. Obama's campaign was a reality-based community organizing effort, and Romney ran his like a CEO.

One campaign had a leader, and that leader was Barack Obama.

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