Our Town: Working the numbers | December 12, 2007 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Notes & Comments - December 12, 2007

Our Town: Working the numbers

by Don Kazak

John Jacobs, a retired teacher who lives in Palo Alto, taught math to middle school students for much of his 40-year teaching career.

He's still working with numbers, in a different way.

The numbers have to do with local registered Democratic and independent voters and how many of them can be called in a night. And also about how many more volunteers can be recruited to work the phones to make calls on behalf of the Barack Obama for President campaign before the Feb. 5 California primary election.

About 25 people gathered in a music classroom at Cubberley Community Center on a rainy night last week to report progress on their efforts.

The room had two pianos stuck off in corners and music stands stacked neatly.

Area campaign coordinators were on hand, along with some newcomers who said they were interested in maybe volunteering.

The newcomers included three young men who came in late and said they wanted to see what was happening. They said they worked at Google and had seen Obama when he gave a speech at their corporate headquarters.

A presidential campaign within political parties is all about numbers. While the actual presidential election is a winner-take-all for the electoral votes of each state, the primary elections allot delegates to each candidate by their vote totals within each state.

The 14th Congressional District will send about five delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Colorado next August.

Hillary Clinton is so far ahead of Obama in California, by 22 points according to a recent poll, that she is all but assured of winning the California primary. But the local Obama campaign is scrambling for as many votes as possible, maybe to send two, three or more Obama delegates to the convention.

Clinton and Obama are in a dead heat in the first contest, the Iowa caucus, and one theory is that success will breed success. If Obama shows well in Iowa and the other three early states — New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — things could change by the California primary, the theory goes.

"People are moved by who's winning," Roger Hu said. He's one of the local Obama coordinators, along with Owen Byrd.

The Obama campaign depends on volunteers sitting by their phones at night and calling Democratic and independent voters (who can vote in the primary election) from a computerized list.

Los Angeles Times reporter Scott Martelle visited Palo Alto in September to take a look at the local Clinton and Obama campaigns. The Clinton campaign is a traditional, top-down effort run by professionals while the Obama campaign is a grass-roots effort staffed by volunteers, Martelle concluded.

"We've been organizing since August," Byrd said. The 14th Congressional District has been divided into seven areas, each with eight volunteer coordinators. The effort now is getting down to the precinct level in trying to recruit a volunteer for each of the 475 voting precincts in the district.

The effort of calling hundreds of voters a week isn't about what one might think, however. The volunteer callers aren't working just to convince people to vote for Obama, although they will do that. Instead, the effort is to identify people who plan to vote for him and then make sure they vote Feb. 5.

"The election will be won or lost on the get-out-the-vote effort," Hu said.

Jacobs, who is coordinating the effort to call voters, says there's not much point trying to dissuade voters who have already decided to vote for Clinton.

"I think the people who are committed to Hillary are pretty much there," he said.

Meanwhile, the days until the election tick off.

"We only have 61 days to do all this," Hu told the volunteers last week.

There is a sense of urgency, and also a palpable sense of commitment. They believe in their guy.

Senior Staff Writer Don Kazak can be e-mailed at dkazak@paweekly.com. ?? ?? ?? ??


Like this comment
Posted by Owen Byrd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Readers can learn more about our local campaign at: www.ca14forobama.com

We are also opening our campaign office at 3892 El Camino Real (next to Happy Donuts).

Join us for our office opening phone-a-thon this Sunday, December 16, from 1-4 pm.

Like this comment
Posted by Melodi Masaniai
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2007 at 8:43 pm

Great coverage for CD14 and the work and dedication. Glad to be part of the team and expect the unexpected!

Like this comment
Posted by John Jacobs
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 12, 2007 at 11:22 am

We in the Obama campaign are very optimistic about our candidate's chances to be our next President. I urge all to come join this historic movement for change as we head into the California primary on Feb. 5 (earlier for absentee voters).

Like this comment
Posted by Loren Esse, Des Moines IA
a resident of another community
on Jan 4, 2008 at 10:01 am

so far yet so near

Greetings Palo Alto & CALIFORNIA in anticipation of your primary

The turnout for our 49th precinct caucus in Des Moines last night was
awesome. Today's Des Moines Register reported the results in an
Obama kind of way - well expressed across the political board.

Like this comment
Posted by Loren in Des Moines IA
a resident of another community
on Jan 4, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Obama has the necessary composure to be totally blogulated,
and elected.
In this digital age he is the fearless, interested, competent leader
willing to serve.
08 - this year infinity stands up

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