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August 10, 2006

Tom Swan

Here's a shot of Tom Swan, Ned Lamont's campaign manager on election night.

Swan is an amazing organizer. It was a privilege to watch him in action.

It's tempting to assume that the media are the all-powerful influencers. In Connecticut, I realized how little the media really mattered in the dying days of the campaign.

What really seemed to matter was old fashioned campaigning--knocking on doors, passing out leaflets, pressing the flesh, phonebanking, and getting out the vote.

On the night before the primary everyone was on edge. Lamont's lead had shrunk dramatically in the latest poll. It was after midnight and Tom had to be at work at 4:30 am.

Before he left, he made this announcement,

"I don't know how it's going to go tomorrow. Lieberman's got 100 people on the ground in Hartford It's going to be tough, but if we execute our plan, we have the team to deliver the victory."

I was really struck by what Tom was worried about. Not the polls, but the unexpected arrival of GOTV workers from Philadelphia on the streets of Hartford.

Obviously, the guy knows what he's doing. He gets results because he's not trapped in the consultants' bubble.


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When you're running a campaign and it's the night before election day... your strategy and message were set a while ago and can't be changed. You've done the media, and the ads, and if you've done what you intended, there's no point revisiting any of that. What's left if the GOTV. If you've planned well, then you have a vote goal, and a plan for where to get those votes. You know how many votes you need to "pull", you know where you need your volunteers in order to do it, and it's time to execute. If you think you have enough volunteers to do so, and your people are properly trained and know what their parts are, it's just a question of doing it.

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