Just ahead, over the rolling wheatfields all golden beneath the distant snows of Estes, I’d be seeing old Denver at last. I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was “Wow!”
– Jack Kerouac, “On the Road”
There is a philosophical divergence in the respective ground campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain, and our back-to-back trips to Colorado Springs and Boulder exemplify this difference. Only Barack Obama is playing offense. In Colorado, call it the four corners offense.
John McCain’s campaign doesn’t have an office in Boulder’s blue oasis, whereas Barack Obama is willing to put his organizers all over deep red territory. Overall, the Colorado field office edge stands at 32-11, after the Obama campaign added their 32d office Tuesday. Moreover, in our travels we’re finding the Obama offices have generally opened earlier in the season than the McCain offices and have more organizers attached to each office. In the more rural areas like Cortez, Obama might have one full-time organizer, but in places like Colorado Springs and Boulder we counted very large staffs.
The structure of the McCain organization is different, and they take pride in staffing their offices with full-time volunteers. Typically, even in large offices we’re seeing, McCain’s team has one paid organizer in charge of the office and a group of veteran, savvy volunteers to direct traffic. It’s just a different philosophy.
Boulder, with its giant base of Colorado University students, accounted for 8.0% of Colorado’s vote in 2000, and 7.5% of the statewide total in 2004. As you’d expect, Dems carried the vote widely. Curiously, the Bush vote stayed flat both years, going from 50,873 in 2000 to 51,586 in 2004. Gore won 69,983 votes in 2000 but was hurt by Ralph Nader’s 16,498. Nader was persona non grata in 2004, gaining only 964 votes while Kerry boosted Democratic totals to 105,564.
To be a professional poker player, one success principle you must learn is “Losing the Minimum.” Everyone who plays seriously knows that players go through stretches where they can’t catch a break and make a series of strong 2d-best hands that cost them money. It’s structurally and statistically built in that you’re supposed to lose certain hands. The most skilled players know how to keep their cool and lose the minimum on hands they are supposed to lose. More than figuring out how to profit when you get pocket aces or flop set over set in poker (because almost everyone knows how to win those hands), it’s how to sense situational danger and avoid it that builds your bankroll in the long run. Your bankroll grows from the bets you save.
In the organizing world, Barack Obama’s aggressive willingness to go into all corners of the state of Colorado (and Nevada, and New Mexico) is going to keep his losses to the minimum in areas he is supposed to lose. “Losing the minimum” is the mantra. And in Boulder, with McCain’s field team abdicating the field, Obama can “extract the maximum” with no counterweight.