In retail-politics, it means that the candidate must promote their message and not necessarily at various rallies, interviews on television and debates. We have often heard of candidates wearing out the shoe-leather walking districts and this is the most important factor in any election race.
As I was viewing these photos of Senator Barack Obama canvassing a neighborhood in Ohio, I do feel this is where he can make the biggest impact amongst those who have been terrified due to McCain and Palin’s message of hate. It is the human touch that belies what is being broadcasted on television and said by the opposition.
A voter or a group of voters believing what they have heard and seen can benefit from this one-on-one interaction with Senator Obama. It can simply blow away what perception they had of him either through the McCain campaign as well as the media. It is lifting the barrier that has come between them and Senator Obama.
As a political-junkie what is said by the various pundits on television can annoy me or where I feel that something critical is not being said: I wonder how those who are not as involved in politics feel as one pundit screams over another. Most likely they will change the channel after all they have enough stress in their lives.
As for independent voters or voters who have yet to make up their mind, it is also a great strategy in reaching out to them. While canvassing, any questions posed to Senator Obama are not scripted or cleared by any moderator who presides over any debate. In retail-politics, the voters can actually ask the candidate pointed questions that have not been asked so far. It can be the very interaction that seals the deal not only in this election, but the countless races that have been held in our nation’s history.
For any household receiving negative mailers coming to their home after meeting Obama, they will simply round-file them. Negative ads on television can result in the viewer changing the channel in sheer disgust.
One such campaign comes to mind. It was when Steve Levy originally ran for the county executive seat in Suffolk County, NY. While I realize his campaign was smaller in comparison, he actually took the time to knock on doors and speak with the voters. His support staff had a hard time in keeping up with him and I witnessed this first-hand. In fact through this one-on-one contact with the voters, what he was able to do was to win back this county from years of being led by a failed Republican governance. So impressed were some Republicans they showed up on primary day asking if they could vote for him. He was able to dispel the myth that Democrats cannot govern effectively. In his re-election bid which he won, the Republicans even endorsed his candidacy by placing him on their ballot.
Over the years, I have personally witnessed retail-politics and for the most part the reaction has been positive. Witnessing how a candidate interacts with the public can be quite telling in itself. You are able to see a non-scripted candidate and one at times taken by surprise. You can assess their body language as hard questions are put to them. On-air questions often what is broadcasted are sound-bites, not so in retail-politics. You the voter get to hear exactly word-for-word what they have said also without any editorializing afterwards. You the voter become the editorialist as you ponder what is said by the candidate which leads to you making up your own mind instead of allowing others to do so for you.
While I realize that as we are in the homestretch of this campaign when his schedule may not always lend itself to this style of campaigning, I do feel it critical that he does go into neighborhoods in these battle ground states.
Why do I feel it critical? Because anyone of these voters who met Senator Obama can call up their friends telling of their surprise that he came to their neighborhood and made them feel special. They can effectively shoot down what has been portrayed of him by the McCain campaign. Word of mouth is critical in any campaign. Imagine you are that voter going about your ordinary day and a high-figured candidate such as Barack Obama comes knocking on your door? It is all about the personal that makes or breaks any candidate.
Anyone harboring negative feelings of Obama can through human touch see that he how they were hood-winked by the McCain campaign since he took the time to come to their neighborhood. Coming into one’s neighborhood is in affect, coming into their homes.
My suggestion to the Obama campaign is to set aside a good block of time by practicing retail-politics, because you are after all selling yourself to the voter(s). They too need to kick the tires so to speak to see how you personally interact with them. That may be the very tactic which in affect seals the deal.
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