In front, we were packed with a great Friday night crowd.
Out back, the Melodica music festival rolled on. This was "night one."
While in Dallas, I was able to read the local papers and take the measure of local sentiment. It seems likely that Barack Obama is on track to win an upset victory in Dallas and its surrounding counties. This is in spite of the fact that this area wou;d have been counted as Hillary Country just a few months ago. What made the difference? It appears to have been the superior organization and ground game run by the Obama campaign. Consider the following evidence offered by Dallas' local lifestyle weekly, The Dallas Observer:
It's February 13 and you want to join the grassroots—man a phone bank, block-walk your neighborhood—but you're not sure how to go about it. So you go to hillaryclinton.com and are directed to a page that sorts campaign events by distance and ZIP code. You search for events within a 10-mile radius of 75232, which is part of Texas Senate District 23, the delegate-rich and racially diverse area (blacks do most of the heavy ballot-box lifting) that played a major role in the Democratic courthouse cleaning in the '06 election. You hit the "find" tab and read the results: "Sorry no events were found based on the search above."Then there is the question of professional staffers and grassroots activists. Which campaign mobilized the larger effort on the ground?
You go to mybarackobama.com and are sent through a series of similar prompts. This time, you are informed that there are 15 events that match your search criteria. You expand your search to 50 miles for Obama and come up with 44 hits; doing the same for Clinton, you find 10 events.
These listings offer a snapshot of the grassroots operations of both campaigns in Dallas County—a telling glimpse into the ground war of the presidential candidates as they do battle for what has become a must-win state for Clinton.
As of February 13, Dallas political consultant Kathy Nealy was the lone paid staffer running Clinton's Dallas campaign. Asked why the Clinton camp hadn't scheduled as many events as the Obama camp, she responds, "They are in the hype stage, but this is Politics 101, and I am in the planning stage. First thing you do is to get out the early vote." Early voting began February 19.The results were fairly predictable: a giant rally of 17,000+ people for Obama, followed by a much smaller rally of about 1,000 for Clinton. Tragically, the Clinton rally was marred by the death of one of her motorcycle escorts in an accident.
By February 18, Nealy was joined by four additional Clinton staffers from the national campaign, says Barbara Rosenberg, a volunteer Clinton organizer for Dallas, and more are expected. Rosenberg, a former state appeals court judge, says she has had volunteers ready to work since October "but they were on hold. It was only after Super Tuesday [February 6] that the national campaign changed gears," she says. "There is loads of enthusiasm for Hillary. We just opened our Dallas campaign office, and everything is now in place for the staff."
Obama's Dallas County grassroots operation has been up and running for a year, headed by full-time volunteers Molly Hanchey and Starshine Nolan. "There is a core group of 80 people who help out on a daily basis," Nolan says. "But we have access to a list of around 2,000 people who have shown interest through the Obama Web site. It's incredible, the outpouring of support we have gotten at the grassroots level."
On February 13, 20 staffers from Obama's national campaign arrived in Dallas and were introduced to a wildly upbeat crowd of volunteers (Nolan claims that there were at least 700) at a party at Gilley's Dallas on South Lamar Street. They drank beer, ate chips and salsa, and watched on a half-dozen big-screen TVs as Obama swept the Potomac primaries.
If you want to increase your understanding of what is going on in North Texas, then I highly recommend "Why is Hillary Neglecting Delegate-Rich Dallas County?" by Mark Donald of The Dallas Observer.
This morning I am in Houston, Texas, on the second leg of my dual trip to Texas. I am here for training related to my regular employment, and I will have limited time for blogging. I will try look around for local news and periodicals and "take the temperature," but I'm not sure how much time I will have to look around.