Six degrees of Barack Obama

A few years ago, the NDP consulted with some of Barack Obama’s campaign organizers. And Michael Ignatieff could claim friends and acquaintances around the Obama administration. But one of Justin Trudeau’s supporters got to take part in a sleepover at David Axelrod’s house.

Marie Bountrogianni, a former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister who is supporting Trudeau, was in Chicago and Iowa to help out in the final days of the U.S. presidential election this month and even stayed overnight at Axelrod’s country home in Michigan, along with a dozen other volunteers.

She said she was “blown away” by the high degree of sophistication in the Obama organization — the technology, the discipline and its ability to execute large shifts in strategy. Bountrogianni was initially assigned to be part of a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) brigade in Wisconsin, but dozens of volunteers were suddenly rerouted to Iowa, where they were greeted with new packages of call orders and scripts to follow. “I couldn’t believe how organized they were,” she said. Liberals are in the midst of a large effort here to raise their own game in gathering databases and building home-grown technical sophistication, with hardware purchased from the Obama Democrats. Bountrogianni says Liberals should pay close attention to how the Obama team has pulled this off, especially among disengaged voters and with the help of masses of micro-donations.