David Plouffe, one of the Obama campaign’s most senior advisers, on Thursday said the Obama administration’s vaunted ground game and data sets could not be transferred to generic Democrats. Plouffe’s comments suggest that Election Day was more about Obama’s appeal to liberal voters than an ascendancy of liberalism, which many pundits and journalists have been claiming in the election’s wake.
When asked on the Obama campaign’s final conference call of the election cycle whether Obama’s ground game could be used as effectively by other Democrats, Plouffe said, “you can’t transfer this,” referring to Obama’s micro-targeting strategy that exceeded conventional expectations on Election Day.
Plouffe said “the only reason why this happened on the ground in 2008 and 2012” was because of the “relationship between [Obama voters] and our candidate.”
According to Plouffe, “people are not going to spend hours away from their families and jobs” if they do not believe in the candidate.
Plouffe said without a candidate like Obama, who has an “emotional appeal” to supporters, even the best voter lists or the “best technology” will not be effective in mobilizing voters.
Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod said team Obama reinvented the campaign with “new tools” and they had a “game plan” from the beginning and “executed it.”
But Axelrod also acknowledged and conceded the campaign was not about “metrics” but about people organized around Obama.
The Obama campaign essentially united the Obama coalition by disuniting America into various racial and gender groups and pushed issues that compelled those in his coalition to go to the polls.
But the only unifying principle around which Obama’s coalition congealed was essentially Obama. The campaign branded the Democratic National Convention with the campaign’s “O” logo, symbolizing the campaign was more about Obama than about the triumph of progressive values and ideology.
By the Obama campaign’s own admission, election 2012 was more about the cult of Obama’s personality than about the so-called “ascendancy of liberalism.”
Obama — as was the case during the 2010 midterm elections — will not be on the ballot anymore, which means Democrats , no matter how talented their data geeks are, will have a lot more trouble in subsequent election cycles trying to cobble back the Obama coalition without Obama at the top of the ticket.