Campaigns Fail to Adapt to New Primary Schedule


Via Brad Plumer at The Plank, I spotted this neat New York Times graphic on where the major candidates have campaign offices. The most significant observation, other than the fact that the Democrats are running far more developed campaigns than the Republicans, is that all of the campaigns seem to be missing the significance of the new primary calendar.

Put aside the traditional early states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina (all between Jan. 14 and Feb. 2). Florida has moved up to Jan. 29 and a whole slew of states have moved up to Feb. 5: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and on and on.

Let’s take the six from that group of newly significant states that have the most electoral votes (i.e. largest populations): Florida, California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Now using the NYT graphic, let’s count up the number of campaign offices in each state (count limited to the three frontrunners in each party).

Florida: GOP 2; Dems 2
California: GOP 1; Dems 2
Illinois: GOP 2; Dems 2
New York: GOP 1; Dems 3
Pennsylvania: GOP 0; Dems 0
Texas: GOP 0; Dems 1

That’s nothing! Compare this to the fact that Hillary and Edwards have nearly 20 offices apiece in the traditionally important combo of Iowa and New Hampshire. And Obama one-ups them, with almost 30! Obama has around 20 offices in Iowa, and zero in Pennsylvania and Texas. And only one each in Florida, California, and New York.

I know the candidates simply don’t have the money to campaign everywhere, and I know it’s still early. And I’m aware that the internet has allowed the campaigns to reach people in places where they don’t have a physical presence. But it’s easy to make the argument the campaigns, run by people who have been part of the system for years and were honchos in presidential elections past, are stuck in an earlier mindset. They have yet to adapt to present realities.

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