From Edwards Campaign, Some Expectations Management
By Garance Franke-Ruta
An essential part of any well-functioning campaign operation is the management of expectations for the candidate's performance. On the one hand, telegraphing momentum -- by sending reporters and bloggers updates on internet page views, online (and off-line) fundraising, and turnout at candidate rallies -- is critical for creating buzz and a self-reinforcing cycle of positive coverage and online chatter. On the other hand, anything from an outright win to a third-place finish can look even more impressive if the candidate in question can reduce advance expectations for their performance on election night -- and increase expectations for competitors.
With such dynamics in mind, the John Edwards campaign yesterday e-mailed reporters four graphs drawing on data from The New York Times, Bloomberg.com, CBS Evening News, and other public reports to counteract the impression that Edwards "has invested the most in Iowa," according to campaign spokesman Eric Schultz, when he has, in fact, made considerably smaller purchases of advertising air-time in the state than his rivals. Recent polls show the race in Iowa to be a three-way dead-heat.
The e-mail goes on to say that New York Sen. Hillary Clinton will, by caucus day, have more staff in the state than her competitors, as well as more field offices than Edwards (though fewer than Illinois Sen. Barack Obama). "As the Clinton campaign spins itself dizzy trying to lower expectations," Schultz wrote. "We thought we'd provide a quick reality check."
The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said his candidate's campaign was unfairly described. "I would say the most important thing that they're missing is the millions of dollars that are being spent by third-parties to help them and attack us," he said of the Edwards figures. He also disputed the accuracy of the 300 Iowa staff figure for the Obama campaign, calling it "too high."
Similar e-mails and instant messages from staff at the top three democratic campaigns now arrive on reporters' BlackBerries and laptops on a daily basis as the campaign enters the furious final moments before the Iowa caucuses, which each leading Democratic campaign has sought to define as a must-win for its competitors. It's all part of the intense last-minute effort to seize advantage wherever it can be found.
The rest of the Edwards graphs, below:
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