The Ground War Rages

Three in 10 likely voters say they’ve been contacted by phone, e-mail or in person by Barack Obama’s campaign, rising to four in 10 in the battleground states – in both cases an advantage for Obama over John McCain in the ground game.

Nationally 29 percent report being contacted by phone, in person or via e-mail or text message on behalf of the Obama campaign, vs. 21 percent who report a contact from the McCain camp. In the 16 battleground states, 38 percent report an Obama contact vs. 27 percent from the McCain campaign. And in the 8 tossups states it’s 42 vs. 29 percent.

These are – for both campaigns – enormous numbers of direct contacts. With turnout of perhaps 130 million voters, the equivalent of 38 million report having been contacted to date by the Obama campaign, 27 million by McCain’s – with a week a half yet to go.

Traditionally, contacts closer to Election Day could matter more. But this does not look like a traditional election: As reported in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll last night, 31 percent of likely voters plan to vote early or by absentee ballot. That might lend more clout to early contacts.

Obama’s efforts seem either better targeted or more effective. He holds a wide 75-23 percent lead in vote choice among likely voters who’ve been contacted by his campaign; among those he’s not contacted, by contrast, it’s a 50-44 percent McCain-Obama race.

McCain’s efforts do not show this differentiation. He trails by 10 points, 52-42 percent, among people he’s contacted, and by about the same, 55-42 percent, among those he has not.

                    Vote preference                     Obama  McCainContacted by Obama  Yes                 75%     23  No                  44      50Contacted by McCain  Yes                 52%     42  No                  55      42

In another indication of targeting, Obama has an especially sharp advantage among likely voters under age 40: in this group 30 percent report an Obama contact, while just 11 percent have heard from McCain. And 44 percent of Democrats report an Obama contact, vs. 25 percent of Republicans who’ve been contacted by McCain. It’s closer among independents; 26 percent have heard from Obama, 20 percent from McCain.

Nationally, 21 percent say they’ve heard from the Obama campaign by phone or in person, 16 percent by e-mail or text message (mailings weren’t measured in this poll).  Combining those who reported both kinds of contacts produces the net of 29 percent.

For McCain, 14 percent have heard by phone or in person and 10 percent report receiving campaign e-mails or text messages, 7 and 6 points behind Obama, respectively.

In the 16 states identified by the ABC News Political Unit as battlegrounds, 32 percent report a call or in-person contact from the Obama campaign, 17 percent an e-mail or text message. In these states the comparable numbers for McCain are 23 and 10 percent.

And in the eight toss-up states – Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia – 34 percent report an Obama call, an additional 18 percent an e-mail or text. From McCain, it’s 25 and 10 percent, respectively.

              Total contacts by:                 Obama  McCain National          29%    21%16 battlegrounds  38     278 toss-ups        42     29

                In person/phone                 Obama  McCainNational          21%    14%16 battlegrounds  32     238 toss-ups        34     25

                  E-mail/text                  Obama  McCainNational          16%    1016 battlegrounds  17     108 toss-ups        18     10

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