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Obama's razor-sharp voter system now pushing agenda

The sophisticated, computerized voter tracking and social networking system that helped propel Barack Obama to victory a second time was built on the simple, enduring principle that it’s the people closest to an individual who have the most influence, not mass media.

Now, the data tracking that enabled Obama campaign workers to focus their efforts on the most persuadable voters and mobilize family and friends to reach them will be employed, at least in part, to help the president advance his legislative agenda, beginning with the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

Campaign manager Jim Messina indicated at the Politico Playbook breakfast in the nation’s capital Tuesday that the political machine that created the two largest grassroots campaigns in history won’t completely disappear, reported Sabrina Siddiqui of the Huffington Post.

The campaign’s system, called Dashboard, linked and organized more than 1 million volunteers nationwide and employed tracking models by which staff could monitor support in crucial swing states.

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The tracking models enabled staff to estimate the president would win Florida by 0.2 percentage points and accurately predicted early voting within a percentage point.

Messina called Dashboard “the hardest thing we did in the campaign,” explaining it tracked “every single piece of metric in this campaign and put it in one place,” the Daily Caller reported.

Through the data tracking, the Obama campaign built support scores for voters in battleground states, ranking the likeliness a voter would support the president between 1 and 100.

The data enabled the campaign to focus on persuadable voters and avoid low-payoff, traditional get-out-the vote activities, the Daily Caller said.

Messina said that in 2012, the campaign spent less time “[k]nocking on doors of people who were never persuadable in this election.”

In addition, instead of mass messaging, the campaign mobilized social networkers to share campaign messages with friends who were undecided voters.

“The single most-persuasive person in an undecided voter’s life was their friends and family,” Messina said.

Connecting with Congress

Messina told the Politico breakfast gathering that while he didn’t know for certain what would happen to the campaign infrastructure, some of it “will absolutely live on,” pointing to the social networking tools, the Huffington Post said.

Messina pointed to Dashboard as a way for the president’s supporters to connect with Congress members during the fiscal cliff talks.

“People just spent five years winning two elections together,” Messina said. “They’re not now just going to walk away.”

In a conference call last week, the Huffington Post reported, Obama urged 30,000 of his top campaign activists to stay engaged in the political process, beginning with upcoming tax and budget negotiations.

“We are going to have some triumphs and some successes, but there are going to be some tough days, starting with some of these negotiations around the fiscal cliff that you probably read about, making sure that our tax system is fair,” Obama said. “So we are going to need you guys to stay active. We need you to stick with us and stay on this.”