Obama's game plan

Barack Obama’s campaign strategy for the next month depends on three things: independent voters, local precinct captains and money.

In a conference call with reporters today, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said that in Iowa, the campaign is focused on drawing in undecided voters. He cited a high turnout of undecided voters at Iowa events as proof that they are interested in Obama.

Plouffe said the campaign is also working hard to make Obama the second choice for voters who may be supporting other candidates. According to Iowa caucus rules, supporters of a candidate who does not meet a certain threshold of support can choose another candidate. At the same time, the campaign is targeting those who say they definitely plan to caucus. This past weekend, Plouffe said, volunteers knocked on 90,000 doors in Iowa.

In New Hampshire, Plouffe said, independent voters are key. Here, the campaign is relying on its 100 field staff on the ground, who have made 1.6 million calls and knocked on 300,000 doors, he said.

Beyond New Hampshire, Plouffe said, the campaign has built up field operations with local volunteers and precinct captains in Nevada and South Carolina. It has operations in 17 of the 22 states voting on Feb. 5, and Plouffe said in those states, the Obama operation is larger than that of either Edwards or Clinton.

Plouffe also stressed the money race, arguing that the use of outside money, from unions and 527 groups, has, in effect, allowed Clinton and Edwards to outspend the Obama campaign seven to one. A recent memo by Plouffe found Clinton benefiting from $2.6 million in support from groups including AFSCME, Emily’s List and the American Federation of Teachers. The memo showed Edwards getting $2 million from groups including a 527 called the Alliance for a New America and the carpenters union-funded Working for Working Americans. At the same time, Plouffe said, Edwards could be constrained in the rest of the election season by taking federal matching funds, which limit the amount he could spend.

Plouffe said Obama has raised money from 475,000 donors, 96 percent of whom have not maxed out on their allowable donation. The campaign has not decided whether to release fourth-quarter fundraising results before the Iowa caucuses.

- Shira Schoenberg