I’ve spoken with some of my contacts in Philadelphia. There’s no doubt that Obama’s going to win Philly going away (duh!)…but (and this is a big but) there are certain sections in Philadelphia that Obama may not be maximizing his potential.
You see, Obama’s for some odd reason is not handing out “street money.” As someone who’s run campaigns in Philly, I can tell you “street money” is very important. I know it sounds seedy but it’s really not all that bad. Candidates who want to be pushed by committee people and volunteers at the polls expect to be paid. It’s that simple. And quite often it’s worth it. Because the cash buys knowledge. Look, you can get some true believer Drexel University sophomore to stand outside the voting booth for free and say, “Please vote Obama.” Or you can fork over the money to someone who’s lived in the neighborhood their entire life and knows the voters by name. They know who votes and when. If they don’t see somebody come by to vote they send someone to go knock on their door. That’s invaluable and it can increase your votes by a few percent.
Kerry paid it and won Pennsylvania 51-49 percent on the strength of how he did in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Bush won all the rural areas in between.
It’s quite possible that Obama’s decision not to pay could come back to haunt him. It’s possible that if Pennsylvania comes down to a horse race, he might very well regret not paying the people on the ground for their day’s work.
Even Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called Obama’s decision “a problem and a concern.”
I’ve spoken to two Democratic committeemen who told me point blank that they weren’t going to push Obama. So you’re going to have more true believers out there rather than the veterans of past elections pushing Obama. It could be something to watch.