WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama convened a conference call with 9,000 undecided swing state voters on Wednesday night, his campaign told pool reporters.
The campaign didn't disclose content of the call (though if a reader of this article was on the line, please send an email). A campaign official explained how such a mass of voters was assembled at such a critical time without stirring attention.
"At one point, one of our volunteers talked to [these undecided voters] and they said they were undecided," said a campaign official, who would only talk on condition of anonymity. "So we called them up and asked if they wanted to join a call with the big guy."
The call was made while the president was in flight from a campaign stop in Denver to the taping of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Los Angeles. Obama took questions "submitted by the voters and read during the call by Obama campaign staff," according to the pool report.
In addition, the president spent 20 minutes on the phone with 17,000 campaign volunteers from swing states.
Mass phone calls have become a fairly standard campaign practice. Mitt Romney held them on occasion during the primaries. But the technique hasn't been used much, if at all, during the general election. Romney has held multiple tele-town halls with voters in swing states. But those are traditionally with supporters.
The operations require tremendous effort. For starters, the Obama campaign had to pinpoint undecided voters through field operations, the campaign said. And person-to-person voter identification takes time.
The actual call itself is done in two stages. The first was a robocall to alert the undecided voters to the time and information to dial into a conference call. The second automated call is the conference call itself.
How many calls ultimately are made wasn't detailed by the campaign. But some operatives suggested that 90,000 numbers would have to be dialed in order to get 9,000 undecided voters on the line. Pat McGill, a Democratic political consultant, suggested that the number was likely half that.
"He's the president," McGill tweeted. "Stay-on rate is much higher. [They] probably only called 40-45k people."