Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Newt's 50 state strategy

(Update: I have a website now dedicated to this:

After Super Tuesday in 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were neck-and-neck in the delegate count. Soon, however, Obama had a commanding lead -- even when no big states were up for grabs. Obama was able to do this because his supporters had -- on their own -- been organizing for months.

And in small states, especially those that were holding caucuses instead of primaries, the organization is what made all the difference.

Though a much smaller amount of delegates were available from, say, Montana than California, Obama won by such a commanding total that he racked up delegate after delegate.

Clinton's camp made the fatal mistake of thinking the game would be over after Super Tuesday, not paying any attention to the legion of states that would hold contests after February 5. And thanks to Obama's supporters, his campaign did not have to divert funds away from the Super Tuesday effort. They relied on the supporters to have an infrastructure in place.

Once Super Tuesday was over, Obama's campaign came in and added onto the efforts of their volunteers. But without the legwork done months and months in advance, they would not been nearly as organized as they were.

That brings me to Newt's campaign.

As it should be, the vast bulk of the attention so far has been on Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. Some coverage has been done of Florida and Nevada. But other than that, not any state has been brought up in the campaign coverage.

Which in past Republican primaries would make sense. After all, in past years, many states were "winner-take-all." Democrat primaries, on the other hand, handed out delegates on a proportional basis. That is why the Republican primary in 2008 ended so soon while the Democrat one dragged on for months and months.<br/>
This time is different. Thanks to rule changes, those states wishing to have primaries March and before have to award delegates on a proportional basis.

So while the big three -- Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina -- will still have a huge impact on momentum and fundraising, the race will almost certainty not be decided for a while.

Which means that the path to the nomination may well lie in small states way down the calendar. Those states in which just a little bit of an organization can make a huge impact.

By pushing a 50 state strategy -- while still focusing on the early states -- I believe Newt sees that.

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