Clearly, we'll be using more relevent representations, but the basic idea of Clausewitz's "elements" discourse is to brainstorm the multitude of individual, important elements that help comprise the main aspects of strategy in an effort to understand startegy as a whole. Having done so, Clausewitz advises us to consider each element individually before going on to consider each element in relation to each other. He further warns us however that because each element is active, that is, it changes based upon its relationship with other elements whilst also changing them in turn, we must beware of losing "ourselves in the most soulless analysis, and as if in a horrid dream, we should be for ever trying in vain to build up an arch to connect this base of abstractions with facts belonging to the real world. Heaven preserve every theorist from such an undertaking!"
(And some of you thought he wasn't readable.)
Having established the theoretical, let us now consider the practical. I've grouped my list of elements into broad catagories which I'll explain in more detail in a subsequent posting.
Campaign theme: change versus experience as evidenced by Obama VS
“The ditch we’re gonna die in”: Campaign legend Lee Atwater's oft-used description for the fundemental message choice of a campaign, most infamously his 1988 uber-negative campaign for George H.W. Bush against Massachusettes Governor Michael Dukakis.
Talking points: Such as those issued to Alaskan delegates during four hour media training sessions to help them celebrate Governor Palin's selection.
Radio ads: A highly effective, below-the-media radar, far-cheaper-then-TV method of dissmentating message, especially favoured as such for attacks.
Issues: The broad topic areas (the economy, healthcare, national security) that McCain camapign manager Rick Davies has deemed irrelvent to the election ("This campaign is not about the issues.")
Public polls: Whilst the national polls are much derided by the Obama campaign, they are never-the-less a source of endless media delight and commentry.
II) Ground game
GOTV: Get Out the Vote operations.
Voter registration: Ground zero for the Obama's campaign's organising effort and the measure by which Obama campaign chief David Plouffe keeps score.
18 Battleground States: As listed by Plouffe: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia.
Private polls: A vital means by which battleground states, message and resource use is determined.
Electoral votes: The different electoral votes of each state which when combined to 270 votes or more in the electoral college delivers victory.
Demographics: African Americans, hispanics, young voters (Obama's demographic keys), old voters, asians, males, females, whites, blue collar voters, white collar voters etc. Although it is possible to take this a little far...
Single-issue voters: From Democrats fixed upon Roe vs Wade to Republicans who "cling" to guns.
Senior staff: The inner circle that makes the key operational and strategic decisions of the campaign whilst also having the candidate's ear. In the begining: Obama's inner circle and its expanded version. A primary version: McCain's former inner circle , a later version and its most recent incarnation.
Candidate spouses: From the challenge of schedules rivalled only by their spouses and vice presidential candidates to the infamous cookie bake-off (still the best predictor of the election's outcome), they play a vital role across the board in campaign strategy as these portraits of Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain make clear.
Debates: With 2004 bringing in more then sixty million viewers the debates represent the single greatest audience of the election as a whole. The Atlantic's James Fallow's offers an excellent analysis.
Bundler fundraising: The large, combined donations brought in by campaign super-fundraisers - the financial mainstay of the McCain campaign.