Plouffe: Obama Campaign Energy Not ‘Transferable’

Nov 4, 2009 11:20am

ABC News' Aaron Katersky reports:

It was a rough night for Democrats who, one year ago, were triumphant in their quest for the White House.  The political operative largely responsible for President Obama’s historic victory in 2008, told ABC News the energy of that campaign does not necessarily transfer to other democrats.

“It was hard to build the coalition we built,” said David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager and author of the new book The Audacity to Win.  “It cost a lot of money, it cost a lot of time.  I think there’s some notion out there among some that we can press a button on a computer and turn people out.  It doesn’t work that way.  None of this is transferrable.” 

Like 2008 many voters in New Jersey and Virginia said they favored the candidate who “can bring needed change.”  This time, though, that candidate turned out to be the Republican.

“Every candidate has to be responsible for creating their own atmospherics and their own strategy in their campaign to get these people out and it’s hard to do,” Plouffe said.   “If you don’t have a compelling message to them it’s not going to work.”

Exit polls showed voters who turned out for Mr. Obama a year ago – young people and African-Americans – largely stayed home this time.  Plouffe said it’s a warning for democrats running in the 2010 midterm elections.

“My argument to democratic incumbents would be you better have a case to make about what you’ve done to try and improve things short and long term.” 

The one bright spot for the Democratic Party came in New York’s 23rd Congressional District.  The seat has been reliably republican for generations but democrat Bill Owens prevailed after GOP infighting.  National party leaders forced the republican out in favor of a third party conservative candidate that voters rejected.  Plouffe said it may be an opening for his party.

“The Palin-Limbaugh-Beck wing of the party they’ve sent signals that they want to go around the country and purge more moderates,” he said.

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