Inside President Obama's "audacious" re-election campaign

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Obama 2012 is building a volunteer network with the audacious goal of contacting every single person who voted for him in 2008, as part of a reinvented voter outreach that will be as focused on smart phones in 2012 as it was on text messages last time. Strategists plan to customize videos and other messages for the iPhones and other mobile devices of targeted voters. They also envision “virtual networks” among supporters’ friends and families, so that millions of people will feel a personal connection to the campaign. “We’re setting ambitious organizational goals for ourselves,” David Axelrod, the spiritual architect of both the past and present campaigns, said in an interview conducted above the clatter of Manny’s cafeteria, his hometown oasis. “The idea is to use new technology to pursue the old-style grassroots campaigning. … Hope and change may be weathered, or tempered, by hard experience. But I think those things are still there. People still believe strongly that we can shape the future.”

Two years later, though, the state of the art looks archaic. A hallmark of the first Obama campaign was its sophisticated use of email and text messages for organizing and fundraising. But Obama for America made no formal effort on the infant Twitter, and Facebook was an afterthought. This time, a huge staff will specialize in various slices of social media. And plans call for much more spending on digital advertising, on the Web and on other platforms that advisers will not discuss. “It’s additive, not a replacement,” one top adviser said. “A huge chunk of voters still listen to the local evening news.”

Democratic officials are intently focused on three states that Obama won last time – Virginia, Colorado and Nevada – that provide different paths to victory as an alternative to the traditional dependence on Ohio and Florida. But they are also trying to replicate the bold map strategy of 2008 by eyeing Texas, Arizona and Georgia – three states he lost last time – as potential targets. Changing demographics have yielded hundreds of thousands of currently unregistered Hispanic voters who could be receptive to Obama. “We won last time, in what was called a landslide, with 53 percent of the vote, which tells you how small the margin for error is,” Axelrod said. “I am confident, but also vigilant,” he said. “I know we’re going to have to work for this.” Continue reading more about President Obama’s re-election campaign here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.