We heard a lot in 2008 about the Obama campaign’s ground game. What’s the story on that expression?

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We’re continuing our look at some of the words of the year of 2008.

Being an election year, it generated a huge amount of political language.

One expression that was not new, but which certainly seems to have exploded in use, was ‘ground game.’

Ground game is a political term that refers to the door-to-door, one-on-one tactics used in the presidential campaigns.

The victory of the Obama campaign, in particular, has been widely credited to its voter registration drives, its organized efforts to sway undecided or independent voters, its email lists, and its repeated reminders of when and where to vote.

Ground game has its roots in sports.

In football, playing a ground game is about not kicking or passing, but pushing the ball step by step toward the goal with scrimmaging. It’s a slog to the end zone, but it avoids investing too much hope on a single play.

In martial arts, a ground game is the kind of fighting that happens on the mat or floor, as opposed to the kicking and punching that happens when standing up.

It puts the combatants face-to-face. This, too, is a tough slog toward victory, though perhaps a more sure one as it does not rely on a miraculous kick or punch.

That’s all about ‘ground game.’ Next week we’ll talk about the acronym ‘PUMA.’

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