Strong opinions, weakly held

A couple of Obama items

I saw two interesting Barack Obama-related items over the past few days. (This isn’t a “vote for Obama” post, it’s more about process.) The first is this spreadsheet of internal predictions from the Obama campaign that was leaked on February 7. In it, his campaign predicts how the popular vote and delegate allocations will turn out in each state, and the thing about it is that it’s amazingly accurate. He underestimates his margin in some states he won, but his predictions aren’t far off until late in the primary season.

Well ahead of time, his campaign predicted that it would lose Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Given that they had a plan for victory, it’s clear that the plan accounted for not winning those states. I think his late season underperformance has to more to do with the fact that he didn’t have to try very hard late in the season. He was going to win the nomination with or without Kentucky or West Virginia, and so he put less money and face time into those races than he would have had he needed to do better there to secure the nomination.

As someone who’s asked every day to predict how long it will take to fix bugs and add features to software, I’m impressed with this degree of accuracy in projecting the future. I’d love to read a post-mortem after the election that explains how the campaign came up with its forecast.

The other thing I found interesting was Obama’s June 6 speech to campaign staff. It answers the question, “How do you explain to employees that they don’t get any days off for the next five months?” I think he does a pretty good job.


  1. I saw Obama’s talk to his staff, too. I thought it was excellent. You really get a sense of what kind of a leader he is — the exact opposite of the Bush/McCain “us vs. them” mentality.

  2. Tom,

    I listened to the speech after reading Rafe’s post and your comment.

    You know, maybe I’m jaded from working in corporate America for too long. Obama’s ‘thank you, not me, for doing this’ theme sounded an awful lot like messages from execs that I’ve heard.

    I’m not saying that he wasn’t sincere (or that the said execs weren’t sincere), but it just didn’t strike me as anything particularly extraordinary.

    Regards, Stan

  3. The parts where he credits his staff rather than himself are completely typical corporate motivational fare. I was more interested in the part where he suggested that it would have been OK to have lost the primary because a Democrat could still take the White House, but now it’s either Obama or a Republican, it’s up to his staff to do what it takes to win.

  4. Thanks for passing along that speech to his campaign staff. His rock star appeal serves him well but he also comes across as unusually sincere for a politician. That impression is reinforced by his excellent second book The Audacity of Hope.

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