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Obama 2012's Getting "Back to the We:" How's That Going? BuzzFeed Says Not So Well

BY Nick Judd | Monday, June 4 2012

Many people who were once part of Barack Obama's Internet-powered contingent of small-dollar donors from 2008 has largely stayed on the sidelines up until now, BuzzFeed reports. Citing interviews with donors, BuzzFeed says these people — still likely to vote for Obama — are declining to give for reasons as varied as tough economic times to disappointment with the way the Obama administration handled health care legislation or the fiscal crisis.

As the general election kicks into gear, many of these donors may decide to give again and again, pushing their aggregate contributions above the $200 threshold at which the Federal Election Commission requires a donor's name and other information to be disclosed. And the Obama campaign reminds BuzzFeed they're not exactly short on cash, or on donors.

The campaign theoretically began this election season with robust lists of contacts across the country gained from 2008 and afterward, a powerful organizing machine that needed only to be revived. And the campaign has been working to bring that campaign magic back by reaching out to former donors — Obama campaign officials have said it's a goal of the campaign to get members of the 2012 effort to contact every single person who was involved in 2008 but hasn't come back to the fold.

The case the campaign makes is that this is all a question of timing. Given a few more months, the argument seems to be, donors returning to the Obama for America fold will break that $200 threshold in greater numbers and the statistics will change — in short, that grassroots activity will continue to pick up closer to the election. The case against is that the re-election effort has already had months to mobilize members of the lists that they have, and have not been shy about attempting to solicit donors — doing so, in fact, by turning apologies for a flood of emails into further requests for cash.

Nobody disputes that the Obama campaign needs to use all the tools at its disposal to mobilize a grassroots base that is not as active and energized, or at least not yet, as it was in 2008. What's at issue is how effective the campaign has been so far in doing so — and we'll all find out by November, to be sure.