How many Obama campaign volunteers want to keep organizing to help push President Obama’s agenda in his second term?
At least 800,000.
That is the number of people who, after months of campaigning and hundreds of e-mails, still hit reply to a post-election survey from the Obama campaign and said they “want to keep volunteering.” Another 100,000 said they are interested in running for office someday, according to Obama field director Jeremy Bird.
These kind of numbers are inherently inflated. In organizing, there is always a gap between interested responses and the “hard count” of activists who actually show up to volunteer. (It’s like any party—the RSVP list is usually larger than the actual attendance.) Over the past five years, however, the Obama campaign built a formidable operation integrating web and field turnout.
After losing last month, even top Republicans associated with the Romney campaign conceded that Obama’s celebrated ground game was very effective and very “real.”
That’s more than Republican congressional leaders will concede about Obama’s mandate. It is also why Obama’s networked base—tens of millions of supporters online and the 800,000 super-activists who just RSVP’d for more volunteering—could be pivotal to his second term.
The future of OFA is a sensitive issue in Obama-land. Since the election, I spoke to several Obama staffers and a White House official about what OFA will do in the second term. (None would comment on the record.) While it’s understandably too early for OFA to map out its entire strategy—and they have little political incentive to do so publicly—it looks like OFA will begin by backing up the president’s position on the "fiscal cliff."
The campaign has already e-mailed out an infographic that supporters can share. It argues that the president’s budget proposals are better for the economy than the GOP’s austerity plan. Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, said at a post-election forum that OFA will probably ask supporters to pressure their members of Congress soon. Some Obama officials also told me the fiscal cliff is the first organizing priority right now. That makes some sense, since Washington won’t talk about anything else until Christmas anyway.
But OFA could also go bigger than echoing the president’s position on a single issue—be it healthcare or the budget. It could pick big, strategic fights over how Washington works. There is a big one coming up, in fact.