Jim Messina

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Obama Adviser Takes Aim at Merkel

Jim Messina stands next to Barack Obama as he delivers a speech in March 2013.
Jim Messina stands next to Barack Obama as he delivers a speech in March 2013.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s center left SPD party is struggling to find a way to defeat the CDU and the formidable Angela Merkel. Jim Messina, a veteran of president Obama’s campaigns, may be able to help.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Jim Messina is a political adviser who worked on President Barack Obama’s 2012 election campaign for re-election.
    • He worked on the successful election campaign for the U.K. Conservative party, which won an outright majority in May 2015
    • He is now working with Germany’s center left party, the SPD.
  • Audio

    Audio

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The former Obama campaign guru and evangelist-in-chief of data-driven voter outreach took a brief trip to Berlin earlier this month for a new project, one that may prove to be his most difficult yet: Helping Germany’s leftie Social Democrats dethrone Chancellor Angela Ms. Merkel and her popular conservative-led coalition government in the next election.

That will be no easy task. Mr. Messina, fresh off helping British Prime Minister David Cameron’s conservatives secure a decisive reelection this spring, is now lending his highly coveted talents to a political party that is running a distant second to Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. The challenge will be especially difficult if Ms. Merkel runs for a fourth term in 2017, as many political observers expect.

Mr. Messina’s new role — which party operatives with the Social Democrats describe as strictly an advisory gig — will also pit the prophet of data-first campaigns against a country notoriously averse to relinquishing personal information, especially on the Internet, a skittishness that has only grown since Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. surveillance operations.

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