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Obama Organizes Florida

Today's Los Angeles Times has an interesting piece on Obama's efforts to organize the Sunshine State:

In recent days, the Obama campaign has shifted as many as 15 staff members to Florida, launching a massive voter registration drive targeting young people and African Americans.

Campaign volunteers appeared over the weekend in Miami at a Haitian Flag Day event, trying to make gains in an immigrant community that leans Democratic but that lags in voter participation. ...

The drive relies in part on a large corps of volunteers, such as the more than 500 Obama backers who showed up on a recent Saturday morning at six Florida locations to be trained in finding and tracking potential new supporters.

In the fall, the campaign will target high school seniors, many of whom will be 18 by election day, and will work to ensure that college students are properly registered so they can vote while at school.

Volunteers with clipboards are being instructed to target black and Latino churches for voter registration. Also on the Obama list are registered voters who have a history of not turning out, with a special emphasis on under-40 Republicans and female Republicans. That is territory sought in 2004 by President Bush's reelection campaign, but strategists believe McCain will not have the same appeal.

A lot of people say that one benefit of the extended primary has been to force Obama to build organizations in states he might have neglected--or at least to build them earlier than he would have. I've always responded that Obama would have built organizations in key states whether or not he was contesting a primary there--that pretty much anything a contested primary forced him to do he could have done had he already wrapped up the nomination.

However you feel about this question, though, Florida should shed some light on it come November. I'd guess that the Obama organization there turns out to be just as strong as the Obama organization in, say, Ohio, which benefited from the contested primary. But we shall see.

One other interesting note: "Microtargeting" is a word you often hear associated with Mark Penn and the Clinton campaign, but Obama appears to be doing his share of it, as any smart campaign would. Says the LAT: "As in Florida, Obama's campaign has begun a national voter registration drive that uses some of the same 'microtargeting' techniques honed by Republicans in the 2004 presidential campaign, which sought to locate new, GOP-leaning voters who might otherwise have been overlooked."

--Noam Scheiber