On Tuesday I attended a press conference with former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer at the offices of New Media Strategies. For those of you who don’t know, Don served as Lt. Gov. under Doug Wilder and George Allen back in the 1990s and is now on Barack Obama’s finance committee. Although there were a wide variety of topics addressed, they really fell into three categories: the Obama campaign, technology and the political process, and Mr. Beyer’s own involvement in the political process. The following is a brief write up of some of the major points.
There are a lot of paths that can be taken to get to 271 Electoral College votes and Barack Obama’s campaign has made a strong effort to ensure that more than the traditional three or four swing states are receiving a significant amount of attention. Don believes the Commonwealth of Virginia could go for Obama, especially when you take into consideration the successful campaigns that Democrats have run statewide in recent years.
Of the Obama campaign’s 1.7 million donors, 2/3 have donated online and most of them have donated less than $100. Don pointed out this means most of the donations aren’t coming in from those big fundraisers making phone calls to people who can afford to donate the maximum. In other words, those fundraisers are becoming less important to the campaign. I think it really says something about the Obama campaign when a member of its finance committee is talking about how power is truly being placed in the hands of the public.
Don believes that one of the primary reasons people will turn out is because the economy is so much worse than it has been during recent presidential elections. The numbers of newly registered voters and the record breaking turnout during the primary season seem to illustrate how the public truly is motivated to have their voice heard.
We’ve heard a lot of discussion about unity between the Clinton and Obama camps recently and Don mentioned that the meetings he’s had with Hillary fundraisers have gone well.
Don pointed out that a lot of the mainstream media seems to be picking up on what’s going on in the blogosphere. He mentioned that it used to be that a lot of the television stations would read the Washington Post to see what stories they’d be covering. Now it seems as though the Post and TV stations are also including reliable blogs as places to see what’s going on.
He doesn’t have any particular blogs that he reads on a daily basis, but he constantly is reading something from the blogosphere because people are sending the stories to him.
Don was asked what he thought about the fact that some Obama supporters have actually been using the internet as a way to voice some frustration with Obama’s positions on certain issues. He pointed out that he believes it’s a sign of a strong leader if he’s able to actually listen to what the people have to say.
The databases that are used by campaigns help to make the field operations and other portions of the campaign so much more efficient.
He’s noticed that a lot of his work has turned to email communications instead of making phone calls. This can be a lot more convenient for both him and the people that he’s interacting with.
Don Beyer's own involvement in political process
He likes the fact that we have an independently elected Lieutenant Governor because that means the LG gets to try and promote his/her agenda too. Along similar lines, he also thought it was more fun to serve under George Allen because he got to be the leader of the loyal opposition.
If the opportunity presented itself, he would like to spend the rest of his life in public service.
If Don wasn’t going to be in the finance end of a political campaign, he’d like to take part in the field operations. He thinks it’s a lot more fun going out and being able to talk to people about the campaign and to really get to know what they believe is important. Plus, field is very efficient when you consider that you only have to knock on about 20 or so doors to change a persons vote compared to the hundreds of phone calls, mailers, etc. needed to do the same thing.