Pindell scoops that Michele Bachmann’s entire paid campaign team – roughly a half-dozen staffers – in New Hampshire has quit out of frustration with the campaign.
I think for Republican presidential staffers “frustration with the campaign” must be a synonym for “because we’re not getting paid or can see the campaign will soon be out of money.” But that’s not really what I found significant here.
Michele Bachmann had only six paid staffers in the state with the first-in-the-nation primary?
Let’s put this in perspective. In 2006, I managed a Congressional campaign for a district that represents half the population and more than half the territory of New Hampshire. We had about 20 staffers for a $1.6 million campaign. In early December of 2007, the Clinton campaign had about 100 staffers in New Hampshire, and the Obama campaign had “more than 100 staffers in New Hampshire.”
That Michele Bachmann’s entire New Hampshire staff quit is, I guess, newsworthy. But it should also have been newsworthy that a supposedly serious campaign for president had maybe one staffer for every staffer Barack Obama had for the same contest four years ago. This news will probably be reported as a setback for Bachmann, that because of what happened today she can’t mount a serious effort to win the New Hampshire primary. But the real story is even if she didn’t lose any of her staff, she already wasn’t mounting a serious effort to win the New Hampshire primary.
On Twitter Adam Bonin raised a good point, that Bachmann’s overall strategy doesn’t appear based on a good performance in New Hampshire, but rather wins in Iowa and South Carolina. But even accepting that, having six staffers in New Hampshire is strategically useless. If she doesn’t care about New Hampshire, she should have written it off and not spent any money in the state. If she’s going to spend money, she should spend enough to compete–if not to win, at least to avoid embarrassment. And six staffers is not enough to avoid embarrassment. It’s not even enough to do effective advance for her visits to the state.
Besides, if she does win Iowa, the value of that win would be greatly diminished if she then stinks it up in New Hampshire, unless her campaign could say they never intended to contest New Hampshire, and then to back up the contention say they never deployed staff or resources in the state. And even that would require them to forgo any opportunity to use the momentum of winning Iowa to snag another good result in New Hampshire.