Do we have a '72-Hour Plan' like the GOP? If not, we need one.
by nickshepDEM, Thu Oct 20, 2005 at 03:54:25 PM EDT
1. Increasing person-to-person contacts. The Republicans' grassroots development plan was detailed and aggressive in 2002. One team leader was recruited and trained for every 50 targeted voters. These team leaders were given monthly training, specific responsibilities, and a clear time line. The results were impressive: The RNC reports that 130,272 volunteers enlisted and that these volunteers made 12,604,410 phone calls and knocked on 8,405,119 doors. College campus recruiting--an area of particular concern--drew in 22,151 College Republicans.
- Registering new voters. The registration outreach program was driven by detailed analyses of census block characteristics. Residents in neighborhoods deemed "likely Republican" were contacted using booths, door-to-door approaches, and mail. The goal was to register 10 percent of the total universe of unregistered Republicans. The preliminary data indicate that the registration efforts were successful (although the Democrats often matched or even exceeded the GOP's registration increases).
- Growing the party. The 72-hour plan targeted groups with which the GOP has recently underperformed: women, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. The details are unclear, but we do know that the RNC and state parties attempted to identify team leaders in minority communities and to identify conservative members of these groups based on voter lists provided by gun, religious conservative, home school, and sportsmen's organizations. We also know that they communicated group-specific messages via direct mail and paid advertising in newsletters and on radio stations.
- Increasing coalition activity. The coalition program looked to identify prominent individuals with credibility within a specific coalition or formal leaders of coalition groups. The coalitional groups of particular interest include the right-to-life associations, family policy councils, home school associations, sportsman alliance groups, veterans' groups, small business associations, farm bureaus, chambers of commerce, and anti-tax groups. Party personnel were charged with hosting regular conference calls with key leaders to invest them in Republican efforts and to motivate them on issues they care about. Events, in particular, were targeted--Republican representatives were present at every gun show, state fair, Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, Christian music festival, business expo, anti-tax rally, and fish fry they could find.
- Improving voter identification and message targeting. Ultimately, much of the coalition work was designed to obtain lists of voters associated with the above groups. These lists--essential to the RNC's voter identification and message targeting--added to the size and scope of the voter list; identified favorable, unfavorable, and undecided voters; targeted efforts; saved valuable campaign time and resources; and improved existing voter lists by adding new and valuable information.
- Enhancing early and absentee voting programs. Assuming that convenience voting reduces vote loss arising out of uncontrollable election day circumstances, state parties were encouraged to gather information from state secretaries of state and to create schedules to allow for voting deadlines. Mail and phone contacts were designed to provide absentee ballot request forms and information on precinct locations and deadlines.
- Planning for the final 72 hours of the campaign. Fittingly, the 72-hour plan demanded that state, county, and precinct representatives have detailed and aggressive plans for the last 72 hours of the campaign. The RNC asked block workers to consult with activists on collecting information and creating a calendar of events, training, scheduling, time commitments, and personnel.
In raw numbers, the results also appear to have been positive. In 2000 the Democrats enjoyed a 3-point party identification advantage among voters; in 2002 the Republicans had a 4-point edge. Similarly, on average, in Senate and gubernatorial races, the GOP candidates exceeded pre-election poll forecasts by 3.2 points (+2.9 in the Senate, +3.4 in gubernatorial races). Religious conservatives went from 14 percent of the 2000 electorate to 18 percent of the 2002 electorate, whereas union members fell from 26 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2002.
Both the Republicans and the news media believe that the GOP is on the right track. Consider the assessment of the Washington Post: "Republicans have spent more than $1 million trying to correct the problem . In the process, they rediscovered an elemental truth about political organizing: Volunteers and personal contact count more than high-tech weapons and even television advertising. Republicans say they mistakenly believed that `GOTV' meant `get on television,' not `get out the vote.'"
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