Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust

A woman jogs past an electoral poster in support of US President Barack Obama in Columbus, Ohio, on October 14, 2012. A diffe
A woman jogs past an electoral poster in support of US President Barack Obama in Columbus, Ohio, on October 14, 2012. A different Barack Obama will show up at the next debate with Mitt Romney, aides said Sunday, after the president held a post-mortem of his leaden debut clash with his Republican foe. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

Woody Hayes, the legendary football coach at Ohio State, is credited with coining the term "three yards and a cloud of dust" to describe a strategy of grinding out yards on the march to the goal line. Ironic that this Ohio legend's admonition very well could be applied to the political strategy employed by Team Obama in its march to secure not only the battleground state of Ohio but in eight of the nine battleground states up for grabs last Tuesday. The ground game on display during the election of 2012 will most certainly be enshrined in the Political Hall of Fame.

Election Day was a beautiful day in Santa Monica, Calif., the kind of day where one would sneak off to the beach, take a long bike ride on The Strand or hike in the mountains. Those who took advantage of the state's early voting by mail option certainly could feel confident that they fulfilled their civic duty and could have easily watched the national election unfold in the other 49 states with a sense of satisfaction that would surely be rewarded as the state increased its Democratic political advantage to supermajority proportions and with no doubt whatsoever that the grand prize of 55 electoral votes would easily go into the Obama hopper.

For Democrats life was grand on this most special and important of election days. The political stars would certainly line up to reflect the changing character of the country's demographic constitution, and it would be the responsibility of the battleground states to do their part to ensure that our future would move forward not backward.

So what did we do as Democrats on November 6? Well, a lot of us did what I did. I spent three hours that morning in a warehouse-sized building making phone calls to voters in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia and Colorado persuading them to vote for President Obama. And not satisfied that three hours was a sufficient investment of time for the urgency of the moment, I would return that afternoon for an additional two hours of phone calls. In Santa Monica alone, over 1,350 people manned phone banks during the Get Out the Vote Campaign. We made over 70,000 calls on Election Day to battleground states and over 200,000 calls over the three days before Election Day.

And statewide over 1.5 million phone calls were made on Tuesday. The National Campaign attributed Colorado and Nevada victories to the efforts by California volunteers. This is the tenth presidential campaign I have been involved with and the ground game, the organization, the focus, and the enthusiasm clearly surmounted any campaign I have participated in.

To borrow phraseology used to accentuate the power and devastating impact of our military artillery, the shock and awe of this political campaign has left a lasting impact upon the electoral landscape that will surely be used as the barometer for all campaigns to emulate. Of course there are many reasons why the election turned out the way it did, and I am sure that significant academic debate, research, and conjecture from pundits across the ideological spectrum will fill political airspace for some time to come. While some explanations will be subject to heated controversy and some will simply melt away under the light of abject irrelevance, the one incontrovertible fact that will emerge in any serious analysis is that the ground game employed by the Obama team was far superior to anything that either Team Romney or anyone else on the planet for that matter has ever seen.

Team Obama will forever be credited with a brilliant organizational strategy backed up by a flawless implementation delivered by troops whose dedication, commitment, and seriousness caught the opposition flatfooted. And if the formulation, implementation, and management of the campaign are any indication of the competence the Administration will employ as it seeks to govern the country for the next four years the country is in capable hands indeed.

So all Americans can take heart, these are serious times that require serious and difficult decisions, and there is no doubt that the people have clearly given their endorsement to the Obama Administration to finish the job they have already started. The election was a triumph of policies over politics. So in the best interest of the people and the nation let us redirect our energies now to the substantive issues that deserve our undivided attention. It is time for politics to take a back seat to the business at hand; namely, the construction of a framework for dealing with the real problems affecting real people who are really concerned about the real prospects that will confront the real America. Both candidates outlined their versions of a vision for the country, and the differences were stark and the people have spoken. Now we must act and that will require bipartisan cooperation, it will be difficult and bruising, but it must be done.

If need be, the ground troops need to be ready to once again show their muscle to ensure that the politics of obstruction is shown the door, it is not welcome and destructive. So I guess we are all reservists on call just in case. Let us hope we are not needed anytime soon. But if we are, we've got your back.