Thursday 30 October 2008

North Carolina Day 2, Part 1: Rally in Raleigh

Barack Obama comes to Raleigh for a rally. No-one expects the numbers that turn up, even at this stage of the campaign. Despite the 40,000 inside the compound, easily 10,000 are disappointed.

Strikingly, at volunteer training the night before, an FO announced (tongue in cheek):

“No external signs – even if a 5-year-old has spent all day making it and you have to take it off them and make them cry”.

The perfect illustration of a campaign with a hugely grassroots feel and which is extremely open to volunteers bringing their own skills, but which is extremely tightly managed, branded and disciplined where it matters.

Many of Obama’s campaign inner sanctum cut their teeth on Howard Dean’s exciting but chaotic Presidential Campaign of 2004, and had their fingers burned by a movement that let a thousand flowers bloom but lacked discipline and organisation. This campaign has come of age.

The Senator was incredible by the way. An incredibly mixed Southern audience was fired up by cries of “That ain’t right!” to lists of the failings of John McCain’s policies, before a march to the nearest community centre (on Martin Luther King Boulevard) for registration and early voting of thouseands more.

Again, the FOs don’t lose a second in pursuit of their twin obsessions: signing up volunteers, and getting out the early vote.

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