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Organizing for America, Obama's Sleeping Beast, Starts to Awaken

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 15 2009

It looks like Organizing for America, President Obama's de facto field organization based at the DNC, is ramping up its efforts to demonstrate support for health care reform. Last week I took a look at OFA's online directory of upcoming health care canvassing efforts, and found 561 events. Now the same search turns up 677 upcoming events across the country, a nominal increase at first glance--until you realize that the myBO database only shows upcoming actions, and many of the events listed in my search last week were for last weekend, and have thus expired. And states with likely Senate swing votes appear to be getting a lot of attention...

A variety of things are going on inside OFA, from what I've been able to glean from various sources. First, last weekend at least seven states had trainings in progress for community organizers, which means we'll see a ramp up in activity in those places as those folks start to hit the ground. Second, the seeming absence, that I noted in my post last week, of local organizing actions in states like North and South Carolina, Virginia, North Dakota and Hawaii can be explained by the fact that OFA staff have been busy doing "listening tours" there during mid-July, which is one element in the organization's rolling development. (See below for a mapping of those events.)

Lastly, OFA seems to clearly be targeting resources at swing votes in the Senate, paralleling the DNC's release of a new TV ad that it's running in Arkansas, Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska and Ohio, as well as on stations in Washington DC. For example, Brian Beutler of TalkingPointsMemo reported a few days ago of OFA's efforts in Arkansas, where Senator Blanche Lincoln appears to shifted her stance on the controversial "public option" in a more positive direction.

As the Tampa Bay Buzz blog reports, Florida is literally plastered with ongoing events, nearly 100 of them:

As is Ohio, with 124 upcoming:

Some of these events are being organized by close allies of the DNC, like the SEIU, which has invested major resources in passing health care reform. But you get the picture. The sleeping beast that is Organizing for America is starting to wake up. We should know soon how much juice it really has.