Thursday, November 13, 2008

And Here We Go....

So I know I said I’d start blogging about this campaign a few days ago. I know it’s been over a week since the election ended (9 days to be precise). I know you’re all sick-and-tired of hearing about the friggin’ campaign, and you're excited to get serious about more important stuff (like football). But I don’t care. It’s my blog, and I’m going to write about the campaign a little. I’ll start off with a fairly general (and congratulatory) post about why it’s sweet to have won New Mexico by such a large margin.

Allow me for a moment to articulate how fucking amazing it is that we won New Mexico by 15%:

We kicked so much ass in New Mexico it’s mind boggling. We were the top performing swing state by a lot – so much so that we stopped showing up on some lists of swing-state performance.

And to think that when I arrived, 42 days from the election, every poll was showing a dead-heat in New Mexico. The state was a grey as it got. This made sense; historically, New Mexico was one of the swingiest of swing states. Here’s a little slice of why:

  • In the year 2000, New Mexico went to Al Gore after several re-counts by a scant 300-some votes, the closest margin of victory in the country.

  • In the year 2004, New Mexico went to George Bush by under 6,000 votes – that works out be less than 3 votes per precinct.

  • New Mexico was identified by a group of statisticians at UC Berkeley and Columbia University as the state where a single vote was most likely to impact the election. Basically, New Mexico was determined to be the state where a single vote was most likely to swing the state, as well as being the state most likely to swing the election. Read this very interesting paper for details.

Naturally all this information kept us extremely motivated, but motivation alone wasn’t enough. How on earth did we do it?

Well we started out with a very solvable problem; with enough hard work, we knew we’d win the state. How did we know? When it comes down to population, New Mexico isn’t a swing state at all. Even before the Obama Campaign’s massive registration drive (where we registered over 30,000 new voters statewide), there were 200,000 more registered democrats in the state than republicans. Strictly by number or registrants, this state should be a hearty shade of blue, but all those extra democrats doesn’t mean much if none of them vote. 186,000 democrats failed to cast a ballot in 2004; join that with Bush's popularity with independents at the time, and *poof* there goes that numerical advantage. Our challenge wasn’t so much about locating supporters, or even changing the minds of undecideds, all we had to do was encourage New Mexico’s “sporadic voters” to actually show up at the polls. This was easier said than done; some of New Mexico’s dems were remarkably resistant to the idea of participating in democracy. But like I said, we knew the whole time that if we all worked hard enough, if we knocked on enough doors and made enough phone calls, if we pushed Vote-By-Mail and Early Vote firmly enough, if we organized our volunteers well enough – then we would win.

This campaign succeeded where others failed: it gave a truly representative picture of New Mexico’s electorate.

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