Primary 2008: The Battle for Foot Soldiers

A forum on the 2008 Democratic Primary is about to begin at Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. The panelists will be representatives of the campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards. Students and Democratic activists are filing in. The Barack Obama campaign has stationed two young operatives in the forum, who are taking names and distributing flyers for an upcoming volunteer meeting. “What You Can Do To Elect Obama!” read the fliers advertising a 7:30 p.m. gathering at the nearby pub, “The Redline”.

From what I can see, they are meeting with success. One of the most important, and undercovered, early contests is the fight for volunteers and staff. By capturing initial excitement around campaigns, teams can gain an important advantage down the line in field. Harvard is particularly fertile ground for New Hampshire field workers, the folks who go door-to-door, identify voters and get them out to vote.

The panel, under the auspices of the Institute of Politics at the JFK School of Government, is co-hosted by Mark Halperin of ABC News and Mark Mackinnon a former consultant to President Bush. The panelists include David Axelrod of Obama’s campaign, Jonathan Prince of the Edwards campaign and Mark Penn of the Clinton campaign.

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