Call the most valuable piece of intellectual property in America Obama 3.0. It’s the third iteration of the Obama campaign’s cutting-edge, year-round, political apparatus that helped secure the president’s historic election and then his second term.
Again, as in four years ago, President Obama is hoping to build on his electoral success—only, this time, he has the lessons of the health care battle of 2009 and the catastrophic midterms of 2010 to draw on. Obama is using what’s known as Organizing for America to rally support behind his proposals to ward off the fiscal cliff, but the bigger question is how his team will use its reams of data about millions of voters and volunteers to help elect other Democrats. Beyond that lies the issue of who will inherit the priceless political machine after Obama leaves office.
That network’s power has been on display since the election. Less than two weeks after the Nov. 6 vote, the campaign e-mailed its massive network of supporters to survey their level of interest in staying involved. Organizing for America quickly followed up with an e-mail touting the administration’s budget plan and asking the activists to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. And it was back this week, urging followers to “share their 2K story” about the potential impact of a $2,000 tax hike on their family if Congress and the White House fail to reach a deal.
Obama’s national field director, Jeremy Bird, said at a forum sponsored by the Center for American Progress that the campaign learned from its mistakes after Obama’s first victory, when “we weren’t communicating clearly about what was happening next, right out of the gate.” That’s when a backlash to the president’s economic-stimulus plan and health care reform threatened to derail his administration at the outset.
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