Obama’s New Hampshire Shadow Campaign

Jan 9, 2012 7:00am

President Obama will appear on the ballot Tuesday among 13 other Democratic presidential candidates in the New Hampshire primary.

While an Obama victory is not in doubt, national Democrats and the president’s re-election campaign aren’t taking any chances on November.

They’re rallying for Democratic voter turnout as something of a general election dry run — an effort mirroring an organizational show-of-force during the Iowa Caucus and ones planned for each of the other primary or caucus states in the months ahead.

Obama has opened seven campaign offices across the tiny Granite State — more than any Republican candidate — including four in the past week alone.

Since April, his team of paid staff in New Hampshire has grown to around 20, a campaign official said, all collaborating to reengage the base of Obama supporters from 2008 and reach out to new voters for 2012.

Obama volunteers in New Hampshire have held more than 500 trainings, phone banks and neighborhood canvasses over the past eight months, contacting potential voters through 3,200 in-person conversations and tens of thousands of phone calls, according to the campaign.

“We’ve been building our neighborhood team volunteer leadership in every state in this country,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said on a conference call with reporters Jan. 4.

“We have 62 tested, trained and mobilized neighborhood teams in Michigan, and 71 in Colorado already. Thousands of core team leaders have been tested and trained,” he said.

The campaign’s website lists the names and contacts for 21 organizing team leaders positioned in major cities and towns across New Hampshire.

“We need to send a clear message that New Hampshire Democrats are ready and well-organized for November 6th,” wrote Dartmouth college freshman Logan, who did not give his last name, in a blog post on the campaign’s website.

“Our votes are a clear way of standing up for the president and the policies he has worked so hard to enact,” Logan wrote.

Obama may face an uphill challenge in New Hampshire, where Democrats are a minority among registered voters, according to recent polling, and independents make up nearly half of the electorate.

He carried the state by 10 points over John McCain in 2008, 54 percent to 44 percent. But the latest Marist/NBC poll found that only 40 percent of registered New Hampshire voters approved of President Obama, while 49 percent disapproved.

While New Hampshire holds just four electoral votes, Obama’s campaign strategists are banking on a win in the state as part of four of five key pathways victory that Messina highlighted last month.

The Democratic National Committee, demonstrating just how determined they are to hold the ground, has opened a “war room” in Manchester ahead of Tuesday’s vote to raise their profile in the state and provide quick response to Republican attacks on Obama on the stump.

Vice President Joe Biden will host an exclusive webcast with New Hampshire supporters Tuesday night, when he is expected to thank them for their support and try to rally their spirits for the fall. Obama held a similar event on Iowa Caucus night.

UPDATE:  Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski noted in an email that despite the president’s robust ground campaign in New Hampshire, “the reality is Obama’s going to need it.”

“The president may have won by 10 points in 2008 but Democrats, Independents and Republicans in the state has soured on Obama ever since. Four years ago Obama made a lot of promises to voters in New Hampshire. Now after failing to instill confidence in the economy and failing to unite our country, Obama’s brand has moved from hope to false hope,” she said.

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