Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Just Weird

I'm a political junkie and before this primary season I didn't know all the ins and outs of delegate allocation. But though I'm a political junkie it isn't actually my job to try to help someone win the Democratic nomination. So I just truly find it weird that what the Obama people did is some grand innovation instead of a "duh" kind of thing.

Senior advisers, including Plouffe and delegate specialist Jeffrey Berman, diced the country into 435 congressional districts, the basis for pledged-delegate allocations. They examined each district under different scenarios -- for instance, before and after former senator John Edwards left the race. And they identified quirks that Obama could exploit -- such as the fact that in districts that awarded an even number of delegates, the take was generally split evenly, if the winning margin was kept reasonable.

The campaign leadership had wanted no distractions before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, so the planning in Chicago was done in secret. But on the night of Jan. 4, as Obama's Iowa staff staggered into his Des Moines campaign headquarters, still ragged from celebrating the senator's improbable victory there, field director Paul Tewes took it public.

Everyone on the payroll in Iowa would be assigned to another state, he announced. Hotels had already been booked and rooms in the homes of volunteers arranged. Marygrace Galston, who had helped oversee the ground-game deployments, gave staff members until 6 p.m. to say whether they were accepting their new assignments.

Obama's team left Des Moines and fanned out -- to Idaho, to Alabama, to Alaska, places that had never seen a Democratic presidential primary campaign. The months ahead would have other key moments. The late-night standoff in Indiana last month deprived Clinton of a strong victory to offset her crushing defeat in North Carolina -- and ultimately left Obama's big delegate take intact. Edwards's endorsement of Obama on May 14 helped sap what momentum Clinton had from her landslide win in West Virginia the day before.

I understand that the Clinton team was planning to do a quick knockout and then ride the momentum, but no plan B? Weird.