Obama about to annouce his VP pick?

A blast e-mail from David Plouffe offers Obama supporters and others the chance to sign up to get an email when the decision is announced.

David Plouffe just sent this very private note to a couple of million of his closest friends:

Dear Mark —

Barack Obama is about to make one of the most important decisions of this campaign — choosing a running mate.

You have helped build this movement from the bottom up, and Barack wants you to be the first to know his choice.

Sign up today to be the first to know:


You will receive an email the moment Barack makes his decision, or you can text VP to 62262 to receive a text message on your mobile phone.

Once you’ve signed up, please forward this email to your friends, family, and coworkers to let them know about this special opportunity.

No other campaign has done this before. You can be part of this important moment.

Be the first to know who Barack selects as his running mate.



David Plouffe

Campaign Manager

Obama for America

Color me confused.

1. Why announce now? [I assume “soon” has to mean something like “this week”; otherwise it’s too big a tease, and not really consistent with the campaign’s operating style.] Conventional wisdom has been that the Olympics are going to take the country’s mind off politics for a while. Or is it that a VP announcement would make a big enough splash to break through, and the teaser campaign gets some ink and electrons even while Obama is “on vacation” [which I suspect translates in part “trying to persuade Grandma to come to Denver”].

2. Why ask people who are already signed up to sign up again to get the VP announcement?

3. Is anyone going to invite friends who aren’t already signed up on the Obama website to sign up for this?

All of which is a distraction from the fact that no one seems to have a clue who it’s going to be.

Update Several readers think this is a matter of database management. The campaign wants to see how many people are reading the emails, and if possible capture their cell-phone numbers and get them used to getting text messages from Obama HQ.

Laura from Seattle writes:

I would guess that they want to get people, especially young people, to provide their cell phone numbers to the campaign. During the primaries, I know from experience that the campaign used text messages very effectively in Washington State to remind younger votes to go out for the caucuses and this is probably true of other states as well. Secondarily, it is a way of getting young people engaged again after the long summer break. If people do sign up again, that confirms to the campaign that they are still active supporters, and can be targeted further. But the main purpose in my opinion is to get those cell phone numbers for later GOTV use.

Sounds right to me.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com