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Monday, February 04, 2008

Obama in Wilmington

Yesterday my brother and I drove down to Wilmington to see Barack Obama in person. The 20,000 person rally in Rodney Square was pretty exciting, about twice the size of the crowd that Kerry drew to Hill Field in 2004. There were plenty of great photos from the event, some showing the crowd size, some featuring Obama, but I thought this one was perhaps the most telling.

Obama was speaking in a somewhate sunken area, as the square was lower than most of the surrounding streets that he was facing. People were climbing on everything they could to see him, including these port-o-potties. The thing that struck me the most, however, was the father that had his little girl on top of the port-o-pottie. There were so many little kids there that I got a sense that parents really wanted their kids to experience it, even if they were far too young to appreciate it. They want their kids to be able to say "I was there." It's probably how their parents probably talked of Kennedy

The other striking thing about the rally for me was the innovative organizing technique the campaign employed. When my brother and I got through security, there were Obama volunteers handing everyone a piece of paper. It wasn't a fact sheet or a supporter sign up card. Rather, it had a name, a phone number, and a polling place.

As the 5-10 thousand people inside the secure area waited for Obama, a couple organizers took the stage and explained to everyone that the names on the papers were registered democrats who have voted in the last two general elections but not in the primary. They told everyone to take out their cell phones and make one call for Obama.

It was brilliant. A 10,000 call phone bank in 2 minutes. It would have taken 100 dedicated volunteers at least 2 hours to accomplish the same thing. I've never heard of this, and it struck me as a really innovative field technique. Of course, my voter hung up on me, but all through the crowd there were positive anecdotes. He probably earned a few hundred extra votes there, at least. Furthermore, it made everyone at the rally instantly feel like they were a part of the movement, not just a spectator.

Has anyone ever heard of this technique before? I certainly don't remember Kerry doing anything like this.

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