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Monday, August 25, 2014

If GOP Fails to Take the Senate Here's the Reason Why We Shouldn't Be Surprised

While Republicans TALK about a strong ground game, Democrats are outdoing them at every step!

When will the GOP learn? Shortly after the big GOP win in 2010 I wrote the following post:

Don't Congratulate Ourselves Too Much for 2010 Election Win: 2012 Won't Be So Easy
Democrats well funded permanent political infrastructure gives them huge advantage over GOP/Tea Party volunteers and ad hoc organization!

In that, I described how several close senate races where GOP candidates had a slight lead in the polls were lost due to Dems more effective ground game with "boots on the ground" consisting of paid staff in multiple campaign field offices. It's the same strategy Dems used to retake the House of Representatives in 2006 and Obama used in 2008.

Approaching the 2012 election I warned again:

August 23, 2011
GOP: Get Smart or Lose in 2012
It's time the GOP learned the lesson the Organizer in Chief taught us in 2008!

August 27, 2012
Warning: Obama Campaign Spending on Ground Game Could Overwhelm GOP Enthusiasm
Romney/Ryan need to focus on turnout with grass roots organization to match Obama's!

But the consultants that ran McCain's campaign into the ground also drove Romney's into the ground by allocating resources to campaign ads that got lost in the noise in key states while Obama once again had paid staffers who even drove golf carts at universities taking students to early voting centers. I guess that kind of work is beneath GOP consultants!

So, I warned again:

June 15, 2013
GOP Repeating Same Mistake While Dems Charge Ahead with 21st Century Campaign Techniques
How many more elections will GOP throw away before they figure this out?

And again after the special congressional election victory of David Jolly in Florida:

March 17, 2014
Don't Get Too Giddy About 2014 Election. Turnout and Early Voting Mechanics Still Rule. Has GOP Learned the Lesson?
Despite the wave of anti-Obama voters, Dems still outperform GOP in critical vote getting tactics!

Well, what do I know? I'm just a veteran staffer of two statewide campaigns in Ohio, one of the most competitive states in the country and worked in the Reagan White House Office of Political Affairs during the 1988 presidential election.

Where is GOP Groundgame Now?

We are less than 100 days before the November election that holds the balance of the U.S. Senate and our ability to put the brakes on Obama for the last two years of his term. Since the GOP loss in the presidential election in 2012 I have heard GOP Chairman Reince Preibus insist that the GOP is suddenly taking the ground game seriously.

Then I read Molly Ball's recent column in the Atlantic. Ball describes Democrat efforts to hold the senate seat of Mark Pryor in a very Republican state. Dems have opened 39 campaign offices in the state, many with full time paid staff. They have already been working non stop for months to register thousands of new voters. Contrast that effort with the 11 offices opened by Republicans:
[T]he Republicans' effort pales in comparison to what the Democrats have built: Democrats are spending more than five times as much money in Arkansas, and have four times as many field offices and triple the number of staff. In the month of July alone, the Arkansas Democratic Party reported nearly $900,000 in federal campaign spending, while Arkansas Republicans reported $155,000. (Most of the money the Democrats are spending has come directly from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.) Democrats listed 64 staffers on their payroll; Republicans listed 22. The RNC claims it has 50 people on the payroll in Arkansas, including some being paid by other GOP committees, but I could not find a record of them and staffers on the ground were not aware of them. According to public records, there are Democratic staffers in places like Cabot (population 24,000), Marion (12,000), Arkadelphia (11,000), and Dardanelle, Tom Cotton's hometown, with fewer than 5,000 residents.
And it's not just Arkansas, but Georgia, Alaska and other states where the GOP senate candidate should be a slam dunk win.

Ball points out:
If, as many believe and some studies have shown, the Starbucks-like proliferation of swing-state campaign offices and staff helped Obama win in 2012, Republicans appear to be in danger of being organizationally overmatched once again.
Haven't I been saying that FOR YEARS!

With just weeks to go before November's election it's likely too late to make drastic changes in GOP campaign plans. But, where possible resources should be reallocated away from wasteful media campaigns to fund voter registration and get out the vote efforts. Otherwise GOP candidates are just depending on luck that voter angst at Democrats will be so massive as to swamp Dem's efforts. But there are signs that wave may not appear. Even if it does, we still may lose seats that we would otherwise win if we emulated the Democrat playbook.

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