I’m starting to understand why the ODP’s field operation, by all accounts (including mine) a pretty good one, failed to deliver the Democratic turnout required in Tuesday’s close election to secure victory for Ted Strickland.

When I first heard the story of ODP paid canvassers bouncing checks, my first thought was….checks?  Who the hell pays street money in checks?  Most folks who are available to do this work, late in a campaign, do not have bank accounts.  They are unemployed, a street money campaign gig is often the most money they will make that month, maybe all year.  And if you hand them a check, you have to pay them more, (which it looks like ODP did) because a huge chunk of it will go to a check cashing joint down the street.

My second thought was….out of state consultant?  Are you kidding?  Campaigns identify street money canvassers through local activists who have existing networks of people who have done this work before.  We’re talking years and many election cycles. To put together an operation of any real consequence, an out of state operation has to do way more recruiting than someone local, and that recruiting will be suspect and inefficient.

You’ll recall that in 2008, street money was not really used in Ohio, largely because the Obama campaign was against it, and because black turnout was expected to go up anyway because Barack was at the top of the ticket.

All of which suggests that ODP scrambled at the last minute to throw a street money operation together as the race tightened.  It was never in the budget in the first place.  And when it did get into the budget, they screwed it up.  Big time.

Whether this screw up lost the race, who knows.  But it’s a sublime Dickensian irony that the collapsed economy created by Republicans leaves so many people so vulnerable that they jump at this chance to risk bouncing an out of state check written for a pittance cashed at a predatory check cashing joint, forcing them to pound down the doors of the political party which is supposed to protect them from this exploitation.

The notion that these people who can’t be found, because many are actually homeless, will then dial an 800 number to chase their pittance….well…it’s almost enough to make you puke.

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