I spent four hours this afternoon at the Timberlyne Shopping Center in Chapel Hill with a charming professor from NC Central University registering people for the election. This was my first bit of on-the-street activism in the 2012 Obama campaign, and as always, I was impressed, not to say awed, by the power of the Obama ground game. The Obama campagn is making a big play for North Carolina -- the Convention will be held in Charlotte. Last time around, we won North Carolina by a hair -- 11,000 votes or so. But northern medical and professional types have continued to flood into the triangle area [Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill] in the intervening four years, and North Carolina is definitely tilting Blue. If Obama carries North Carolina and Virginia again, it will be nigh impossible for the Republican candidate to assemble 270 electoral votes.
We are seven months out from the election, and already the Obama campaign has paid staff on the ground here, rounding up volunteers like me, launching a systematic registration campaign, and preparing for a big push this summer and next fall. I have never seen anything like this level and rationality of organization in a political campaign.
The effort is of course, from one point of view, hopelessly inefficient and a squandering of people's time and energies. In four hours, the two of us, both accomplished professionals, signed up only eight new voters. But this is time and energy that has no other political use, so it makes sense to squander it.
I am not, as they say in the business world, a people person, so in the future, I will probably volunteer to do data entry [there are a thousand jobs that need doing, so everyone's talents and procilvities can find some use in the campaign.] I have a score of reservations and disappointments anent Obama's first term, but this is the real world, not the fantasy world of political ideologists, and the threats posed by a Republican victory are not to be borne.
I shall report from the front lines as time goes on.