Why they won

Barack Obama and Gov. Chris Gregoire both achieved sound victories on election night. Here's why, as told by the candidates' campaign staff.
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Barack Obama and Gov. Chris Gregoire both achieved sound victories on election night. Here's why, as told by the candidates' campaign staff.

If you haven't read Ryan Lizza's New Yorker story on how Barack Obama won, read it now. Like the series of memos from Hillary Clinton's failed campaign which were uncovered by The Atlantic's Joshua Green, Lizza's story features extensive conversations with Obama's top campaign staff, who provide insider accounts of the strategies employed during the primary and general elections to defeat Clinton and John McCain. It's the first true tell-all about how a junior senator from Illinois ended up winning the presidency. Here's a taste:

Obama, who is not without an ego, regarded himself as just as gifted as his top strategists in the art and practice of politics. Patrick Gaspard, the campaign's political director, said that when, in early 2007, he interviewed for a job with Obama and Plouffe, Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, "I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director." After Obama's first debate with McCain, on September 26th, Gaspard sent him an e-mail. "You are more clutch than Michael Jordan," he wrote. Obama replied, "Just give me the ball."

Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire's easy victory over Republican challenger Dino Rossi surprised many in the media — myself included. I had wondered if this year's election would be as close as the 133-vote margin in the 2004 gubernatorial election. Though many votes have yet to be counted, Gregoire currently leads by more than 170,000 votes, or nearly 6 percentage points. The governor's campaign manager, Kelly Evans, recently sent this campaign memo highlighting why Gregoire won.

Gov. Gregoire's resounding victory may have caught the media off guard, but you should know that we were confident that our hard work, clear message and extensive field operation would carry the day. In fact, our internal polling had Gov. Gregoire leading by nine points in the final weekend. ...

As I'm sure you are well aware, there will be those who say the reason for our victory was "coattails," but that is a very simplistic analysis that diminishes what we have accomplished. There is no doubt that our message from day one was compatible with Obama's and it is not a surprise that voters rejected Rossi's Republican worldview and sided with Gov. Gregoire. However, you only achieve a blowout like this by doing more than ride coattails.

You can read the whole thing here.


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