In the days leading up to Election Day, nobody — not the press, not the Republicans, not the country — was prepared for the walloping President Barack Obama gave Gov. Mitt Romney. The Miami Herald’s own Mason-Dixon poll had the president down the Saturday before Election Day by six points in Florida.
I was the field organizer for President Obama’s campaign in Little Havana, an area long considered a bastion of Republicanism. Yet President Obama won almost every precinct there (save two) — precincts that he did not carry in 2008 — by a whopping 56 percent to 44 percent margin.
President Obama’s campaign was committed to Little Havana because it comprises the very middle-class and Hispanic families the president is fighting for. Organizing Little Havana was difficult because the area is a working-class neighborhood. Many supporters worked two and three jobs, making volunteer recruitment difficult.
The key to a successful campaign, however, is discipline. Our team consisted of four individuals: a 36-year-old man who was unemployed and had spent the past year sleeping in his car, an 18-year-old New Yorker who spoke no Spanish, a 62-year-old woman from Kansas and a 61-year-old deaf-mute Cuban immigrant. We knew that if we met our goals, we would win the election. Simply put, the campaign devised a plan to engineer victory. If we failed to meet our goals, we left the election to chance.
To that end, Team Little Havana, with the help of our outstanding volunteers, registered hundreds of voters, logged nearly 9,100 calls and knocked on more than 10,000 doors in three months. In contrast, over the same period — in a Republican-friendly area — we encountered only one Republican volunteer knocking on doors. In other words, the Republican ground game was nonexistent.
The campaign reflected the president’s ideals and vision for the country, namely, investment in America. We invested in brick and mortar by opening more than 100 offices in Florida. We invested in human capital by signing up hundreds of field organizers throughout the state. And we invested in technology by developing one of the most sophisticated data-driven campaigns in history. In Little Havana, changing demographics, coupled with Republican rhetoric and policy, worked to our advantage.
Gov. Romney never stood a chance. Republicans measured support for Romney by polling patrons at Versailles. Only a few blocks over, however, Team Little Havana turned out voters in droves to reelect President Obama.
field organizer, Organizing for America – Florida, Coral Gables