"Amid all the hype about 'big data' and analytics in Obama's presidential campaigns, one key story hasn't been told in full: how the Obama team built a sprawling and vibrant field organization almost entirely out of volunteer labor. Han and McKenna recount the successes and struggles of this effort, drawing on extensive and illuminating interviews with everyone from senior staff to many of those volunteers. Their account shows how a winning campaign depends as much on old-fashioned shoe leather as on statistical models and multi-million dollar advertising sprees. This is a book that both scholars and practitioners of campaigns should read." --John Sides, author of The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election
"Groundbreakers is thus an excellent introduction to the practice of organizing, which is an extremely underappreciated facet of American politics...If we are ever going to have a more active and representative political culture, political actors and ordinary citizens alike will have to start taking some cues from Groundbreakers." -- Boston Review
"All students of campaigns should read this book. Highly recommended." -- CHOICE
"A rich and highly readable story about a campaign that made history, not only in terms of whom it elected but also how it did it... At its core, this book shows readers that 'democracy can work when people are given power."
--Perspectives on Politics
About the Author
Elizabeth McKenna is a Ph.D. student in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Hahrie Han is Associate Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College.
Jeremy Bird served as the National Field Director for Obama for America and is a founding partner at political consulting firm 270 Strategies.