Democrats are clicking their heels at the prospect of using the Obama 2012 list for the 2014 campaigns. Fresh off a special election win in Massachusetts, the main concern seems to be how to scale the data from a national campaign down to a Congressional-level race:
That’s not to say, Democrats caution, that there’s nothing lost in the scaling process. Hiring a talented analyst doesn’t mean a campaign will be able to collect the immense trove of data — and update it over and over — the way the Obama campaign did. Not every Senate and congressional candidate will have the wherewithal, or the inclination, to test the effect of slightly varying messages on an experimental slice of the electorate.
But down-ballot campaigns also don’t need that level of data awareness in order to improve their performance in some material way. And if the Massachusetts special election was one case study in transferring data and analytics tools to a nonpresidential level, Democratic operatives say there’s plenty more where that came from.
There’s a big problem, though: there isn’t plenty more where that came from. Barack Obama is no longer running.
Sure, he’ll “sign” emails – and despite tumbling approval ratings, that will mean a lot to a certain subset of voters. Even so, starting in 2014, Democrats have to deal with a problem Republicans have suffered since 1988: the specter of a popular and philosophically grounded President may hang over the election, but the candidates who fill his spot on the ballot won’t match his charisma. Voters vote for candidates more than they vote for ideas.
And Barack Obama ain’t walkin’ through that door.