Where do all the Obama For America volunteers go now?


Posted by AzBluMeanie:

The Obama For America (OFA) campaign organization is one of the most successful in political history. But OFA operated largely independent from the established Democratic Party structure (this is not to say that OFA was not the controling force behind the coordinated campaign effort).

Some of you may recall that OFA refused to make its volunteer information available to state Democratic Party organizations after the 2008 election (it was "proprietary" information). State Democratic Party organizations were looking forward to integrating these enthusiastic young Obama volunteers into their state and local Democratic Party organizations as a way of reinvigorating these organizations with "new blood" and the next generation of Democratic Party leaders. To a large extent, this did not occur after 2008. OFA continued to operate independent from the established Democratic Party structure.

Now that Barack Obama has successfully run for his last election, the question on everyone's mind is "Where do all the Obama For America volunteers go now?" I really want to know the answer to this question. I would like to hear from you.

These OFA volunteers represent new blood and the next generation of leaders of the Democratic Party. But many of these OFA volunteers expressed disinterest in, even hostility towards Democratic Party organizations at the state and local level. They are not interested in serving as elected precinct committee persons, or state committee persons, nor in Democratic Party caucuses, clubs and district organizations — at least anecdotally from what I have observed here in Arizona.

News flash: organizations get changed from within by your active participation. You are never going to change them by casting stones from the outside.

I for one would like to integrate these OFA volunteers into the Arizona and local Democratic Party organizations. These organizations need new blood to reinvigorate them. Many Democratic organizations are graying and dying, to be perfectly honest. They are led by dedicated volunteers who have been doing this work for many years, and they have earned some well deserved time off. These organizations need to reinvent themselves to remain relevant and to attract new membership.

To paraphrase President John Kennedy, it is time that "the torch is passed to a new generation of Americans," a new generation of leadership of the Democratic Party. I for one would like to see a Democratic Party that is younger and more diverse than the current leadership of the Arizona Democratic Party.

Politics and the work of governing does not end on election day. Too many people apparently believed that casting a vote for Barack Obama in November 2008 would somehow magically transform this country. Their vote was all that was required of them. Your civic duty does not begin and end with casting a vote on election day. Much more is required of you, citizen. You must stay informed and involved, and do the hard day-to-day work of governing in between presidential elections.

This is why Democrats have always suffered mid-term election losses, which here in Arizona also includes statewide executive offices from governor to mine inspector to the corporation commission. Ed Kilgore explains at the Political Animal blog, Turnout Disparities and the Democratic Dilemma for 2014:

[A]s I’ve harped on now and then for several years, the biggest single
under-discussed aspect of contemporary national politics is the consistent
disparity in turnout patterns between presidential and non-presidential
elections, which at the moment happen to align almost perfectly with
party preferences

By that I mean that midterms always, always produce an electorate that is older and whiter than presidential cycles. In 2006, the electorate was 79% white, with African-Americans composing 10% of the electorate and Latinos 8%. In 2010,
the numbers were almost identical. In 2006, voters under 30 were 12%,
while those over 65 were 19%. In 2010, under-30s were 11%, over-60s were
21%. Meanwhile, in 2008, whites were 74%, African-Americans were 13%, Hispanics were 9%. In 2012
whites were 72%, African-Americans were 13%, Latinos were 10% (Asians,
BTW, were up from 2% to 3%). In 2008, under-30s were 18%, and actually
increased to 19% in 2012. In 2008, over-65s were 16%, exactly where
they were in 2012.

2006 was a great Democratic year mainly because Democrats broke even
with Republicans in the over-65 vote, which then proceeded to break
53-45 Republican in 2008, 59-38 in 2010, and 56-44 in 2012 (Democrats
also won the 45-64 vote in 2006, before narrowly losing it narrowly in
2008 and a bit less narrowly in 2010). Unless Democrats can do something
to change the typical mid-term composition of the electorate, or can
boost their percentage among older and whiter voters, 2014 does not look
good. And FWIW, not only will the 2010-2012 redistricting continue to protect
the GOP’s House majority
, the Senate landscape isn’t much better than it
was this year (20 Democratic seats are up, compared to just 13
, and 7 of the Democrats are in states carried by Romney;
just one Republican—Susan Collins—is from a state carried by Obama).

On top of everything else, second-term midterms are normally a disaster
for the party controlling the White House
(look at what happened in
1958, 1966, 1974, 1986, and 2006), though one of the very few exceptions
ever was pretty recent, in 1998.

So for all you OFA volunteers who are still celebrating the fruits of your labor in reelecting Barack Obama, please understand that your work is not done. If you want President Obama to be successful in his second term and to secure his legacy, it is time for you to go back to work in the state and local Democratic Party organizations. We have governorships and state legislatures to take back. We have congressional seats to take back, and senate seats to defend.

Here in Arizona we need to replace the most backwards and corrupt state government in recent memory with a new governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer and mine inspector, and to restore some balance on the Arizona Corporation Commission. This is going to take the organizational skills that OFA volunteers have demonstrated and the kind of turnout that Democrats produce in presidential election years. Let's get back to work!


  1. We’re still here and ready to work towards all the things that you mentioned. Our work is far from over…and we know it!

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