Despite a favorable political climate, Republicans may blow a few Senate and House races thanks to their anemic ground game compared to the Democrats.
This case is particularly true in Nevada with the Senate race involving Harry Reid and Sharron Angle. According to the Daily Caller, 70 paid staffers have been on the ground — in some cases for months — ginning up support and organizing efforts for the final weeks of the campaign for Reid. Another 3,000 volunteers have been deployed throughout the state to knock on doors, distribute leaflets and make phone calls.
Now that early voting has begun, a shuttle service will operate all along the Las Vegas Strip to transport hospitality workers to the polls. Unions will provide not only the shuttle service but thousands of workers who will spend their off-hours — and in some cases their working hours — assisting Democratic candidates in what the Las Vegas Review-Journal has called the largest get-out-the-vote (GOTV) program in Nevada history.
Fortunately for Republicans, Angle’s supporters seem unusually motivated and will make up the gap somewhat. But enthusiasm won’t be enough unless Angle’s campaign can match her opponent’s GOTV efforts. And it will not be easy.
Why? There are a number of reasons. One is philosophy. Progressive political organizer Robert Creamer notes that Democrats rely on face-to-face, door-to-door communications.
“Republicans, meanwhile, “are much more prone to rely on paid telephone contacts and mail,” Creamer says.
Creamer claims to have research to show the Democrats have this right — “one knock on the door within 72 hours of the election can increase turnout by 12.5%.” He goes on to report that another knock can boost it almost as much again, but a live phone contact nets only a 2.5 percent to 3 percent increase in turnout.
Anything less than a massive victory for Republicans will be looked at as a failure? RNC Chair Michael Steele, NRCC Chair Pete Sessions, and NRSC Chair John Cornyn will all probably lose their jobs. None of them have managed to recreate the vaunted ground game during Bush’s years in office.
“This election isn’t about enthusiasm,” said MoveOn.org political director Adam Ruben. “It’s about turnout…that’s what it’s going to come down to. There are dozens of races that are going to be close, where turnout can make the difference.”
Indeed. The only thing that matters on Election Day is the people who vote.