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Obama won, so why is his campaign still chugging along? (+video)

Obama for America sent its supporters a questionnaire Monday, asking which issues they'd like to organize around. But OFA's impact the first term was marginal at best. The reason it's still going is something else entirely.

By Staff writer / November 19, 2012

A crowd of supporters cheers while first lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign stop for President Obama on election eve in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 5.

Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

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Washington

What do you do with the most vaunted voter turnout operation in American political history – Obama for America, or OFA – after its candidate has been safely reelected, and won’t ever run for office again?

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Apparently you try to keep it alive, and turn it into an advocacy organization. Or a party-building operation. That’s what OFA is clearly doing with a 31-question survey that campaign manager Jim Messina sent out early Monday morning to President Obama’s millions of supporters – and to the reporters who follow the campaign.

Page 3 contains the first key question: “What issues would you be interested in volunteering or organizing around in the future? Select all that apply.”

There are 24 choices, starting with “accountability and openness in government” and ending at “veterans,” and with many others in between, from “avoiding the fiscal cliff” and “climate change/environment” to “jobs and trade” and “tax fairness.”

Then there’s a broader and probably more important question: “What would you choose as the top priority for this organizations [sic] in the weeks and years to come?”

The choices: 1. Passing the president’s legislative agenda. 2. Supporting candidates in upcoming elections. 3. Training a new generation of leaders and organizers. 4. Working on local issues that affect our communities.

Amid all the adulatory post-mortems on Mr. Obama’s turnout operation – the object of much Romney campaign envy – the underlying question about OFA may be this: Can a lame-duck president keep his organization going long enough to hand it over to his party’s next nominee, who may not be known until the spring of 2016? That’s a pretty tall order.

In January 2009, right before Inauguration Day, Obama for America turned into Organizing for America, part of the Democratic National Committee. In a video to supporters, Obama put out the call for continued involvement in his “movement.”

“The change we’ve worked so hard for will not happen unless ordinary Americans get involved, and supporters like you must lead the way,” Obama said, promising future communications on how to stay active. The one-time community organizer from Chicago had become Community Organizer in Chief.

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