Lauded for running a brilliant campaign, Obama adviser says it can't be duplicated if the candidate isn't special



David Plouffe
  • David Plouffe
The executive campaign committee for Team Obama — David Plouffe, Jim Messina and David Axelrod — joined by campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter, held a conference call with reporters on Thursday afternoon to review the results from Tuesday night's presidential election, and a couple of interesting nuggets came out of the half-hour call.

One is that of all the vast statistics coming from the exit poll data, the piece that Plouffe and Axelrod were most interested in touting was the fact that President Obama received votes from 56 percent of the public who identified themselves as moderate. Plouffe said that was particularly important, since pre-election polls and the exit poll showed Mitt Romney winning that battle, which many analysts thought was the key to the whole election.

"What's clear is his position on taxes, on education, on some of these social issues that really spoke to these voters," Plouffe said, referring to Obama winning crucial swing-counties known for being stocked with moderate voters, like Hillsborough County (where the president did even better here than in 2008).

The other salient item was Plouffe's push back of the notion that their brilliant model used to get out the vote under challenging circumstances could easily be duplicated by any Democrat in 2016.

"You can't just transfer this," he said insistently. "People aren't going to spend hours away from their families and their jobs contributing financially when it's hard for them to do it, unless they believe in the candidate."

Plouffe went on to say that all of the hard work done during the past two election cycles was a testament to how much people believe in Barack Obama. As for candidates who want to build a similar type grassroots campaign, he said, "It's not going to happen because there's a list, or because you have the best technology. That's not how this works. They have to build up that kind of emotional appeal, so that people are willing to go out there and spend the time and resources ... because they believe in someone, and what you're offering."

That certainly was the case for Democrats across the country in 2010, when Obama wasn't at the top of the ticket and the party was humiliated across the country by a GOP tsunami.

Axelrod joined the piling on of critics regarding the Republican party's estrangement from the mainstream, saying he was curious to see how party members interpret the results of the election, and whether it encourages more moderate forces in the party to stand up.

As is his wont, campaign manager Messina gave out a lot of statistics during the call. He said once the numbers from Florida finally come in (as well as a number of states on the West Coast), the expectation is that the president's margin of victory over Mitt Romney will be bigger than George W. Bush's 2.5 point spread over John Kerry in 2004.

In discussing the much-hyped Latino vote here in Florida, Messina said Obama increased his support from 14 percent in 2008 to 17 percent this time around, and "for the first time since the revolution," Obama won a majority of the Cuban-American votes in the Sunshine State. He said this marked a "dramatic re-alignment of politics in that state," meaning that's always been the province of Republicans.

When asked about the billions of dollars spent by so-called Super PACS in this election cycle on negative television ads, most of them directed against Democrats, Axelrod said the results were "heartening," as Democrats gained seats in both the House and Senate.

"If I was one of those billionaires who were funding (American) Crossroads or those other organizations, I'd be wanting to be talking to someone and asking for where my refund is, because they didn't get much for their money," Axelrod said.

The Center for Responsive Politics reported that the two Rove-related groups (the other was Crossroads GPS) spent $176 million on the 2012 election. Bloomberg Businessweek reported that $127 million was spent on television ads for Mitt Romney. Ten of the 12 Senate candidates and four of the nine House candidates backed by Crossroads also lost.

Jim Messina also gave tribute to Matt Rhodes, his equivalent for the Romney campaign, and said he wished for all of those who worked for the GOP presidential candidate what he wished for his own team: sleep and time to hang out with their families.

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