David Plouffe, campaign manager for Barack Obama, examined how election principles and strategies he oversaw can now shape the president’s approach to policy goals in a speech at the Mondavi Center Monday night.
Plouffe addressed the consistent message and strategy – the “two pillars” in politics – that provided the campaign with the stability necessary to overcome external difficulties.
He said campaign election simulations run by the Obama campaign had the candidate losing to his rival, Hillary Clinton, nine times out of 10.
“We had such a narrow path of success,” Plouffe said. “So we had to commit to a path, no matter now narrow it was, and stick to it with the belief that even one flawed strategy is better than seven different strategies.”
Plouffe believes continuing this long-term approach will help Obama in pursuing his agenda in Washington. The president is able to pursue legislative aims, such as health care reform, because his campaign paid less attention to polls or short-term political gains, Plouffe said.
Plouffe said that the techniques honed during the campaign, such as using the Internet to send unified messages to supporters, will also help the administration avoid discrepancies in policies.
He recognized that supporters might be swayed by information from the media and the opposition, but that sending such a clear message early on mitigates its effects.
“Voters want to talk about what’s in the blood stream that day,” Plouffe said in reference to the value of having consistent information, which could help the administration garner support for issues such as health care or clean energy.
Plouffe also detailed how he worked to change the electorate to be friendlier to the campaign, which included an effort to increase youth turnout. In Iowa, the campaign roused the support of high schools and colleges to caucus for Obama, he said.
The strategy proved successful in Obama’s campaign, according to a study by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. The study showed that the youth participation surged in the caucus from 3 percent in 2004 to 13 percent in 2008.
This level of grassroots organizing also occurred on the Internet, which played a large role in creating networks of support for the Obama campaign.
The Obama campaign relied on the Internet to organize supporters, with instructions on how to make calls to voters on the campaign website, according to an article in The Chicago Tribune.
Plouffe led an effort in mobilizing grassroots fundraising on the Internet. According to the Washington Post, Internet contributions raised $500 million for the campaign, mainly through small donors whose contributions typically were $100 or less.
The role of technology, said Plouffe, helped build the campaign and allowed for communication amongst supporters. Youth particularly have a grasp on utilizing new media that will help them organize for policy issues like health care. “They obviously understand technology in a way a lot of people do not,” he said.
Concluding his speech, Plouffe urged people to stay involved and informed and said that the future was bright for the country.
Students who attended the event were excited that an insider to the Obama campaign came to speak at the campus.
Brianna Johnson, a first-year individual business and humanities major said the event stirred feelings of nostalgia for the 2008 campaign.
“To have someone here from the campaign was a liberating experience and to hear the recap was like the whole experience all over again,” Johnson said.
Another student was pleased with the amount of insider’s knowledge Plouffe offered in his presentation.
“I’m so used to seeing the campaign covered by the media,” said Colin Turcotte, a sophomore undeclared science and Japanese double major. “It was refreshing to see how they handled obstacles from their perspective.“
LESLIE TSAN can be reached at email@example.com.