It's become something of a tradition this presidential race: Every once in a while, Barack Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, hops on the phone with reporters and, in his trademark understated, quietly confident, plodding manner, proceeds to lay out a convincing case for how Obama really is redrawing the map.
With less than two weeks to go, Plouffe & Co. argue that they have nearly made good on their promise to carve many different pathways to 270 Electoral College votes, which guarantee the presidency.
"We think we've been able to create that dynamic and have a lot of competitive states in play here," he said on an afternoon conference call. "We're thrilled that a lot of the states we targeted have strengthened for Senator Obama. We believe we have a pathway to victory in many of them."
Here are some particulars:
-- The campaign believes it can hold all the states John Kerry won in 2004, and that Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, and Virginia (all states Bush won) may be in the bag. They like their position in Nevada, Ohio, and Florida, and believe they could also pull off wins in Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, Montana, and West Virginia.
-- Obama's unprecedented groud organization claims 1.5 million active volunteers and 770 offices across the country.
-- Since Labor Day alone, the campaign says it has had conversations with 1.3 million voters in Florida, and 1.5 million Ohioans.
-- Those big crowds Obama keeps drawing? Well, they're not just listening. They're being put to work. Out of the roughly 120,000 people who came to see Obama and his wife this week in Florida, for example, the campaign says it got 40,000 volunteer shifts covered.
-- The early voting numbers favor Obama in a host of important states, with Democrats voting at higher rates than they did in 2004. And many of them are new voters: The campaign says that 20 percent of all Democrats who have voted by mail in Colorado have never voted in a general election, and that 18 percent of Democrats voting early in North Carolina are new voters. The takeaway: Democrats are voting early in greater numbers, and many of them are first-timers, suggesting that there will still be plenty of more practiced Democrats to cast ballots on Nov. 4.
UPDATE: The McCain campaign responded with its own number-filled memo boasting that its ground operation far surpasses President Bush's in 2004.
It said on Thursday it reached more than 900,000 voters and is averaging 550,000 targeted contacts a day. This weekend, from 372 offices nationwide, the campaign said it expects to make 1.7 million targeted contacts. It claimed more than 1.1 million active volunteers.
"While the Obama campaign has more paid staff and offices, we have a quietly efficient, battle-tested organization of staff and volunteers armed with a proven turnout method and greater targeting and technology than ever before," Mike DuHaime, McCain's political director, said in the memo.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.