Tag Archives: ground game

The Post-Motems Continue to Roll In

The exit polling data around election day has a notoriously wide margin of error, so as the “final” data comes rolling in, most notably through the Current Population Survey, more accurate inferences can be drawn from an election it is still hard to fathom that Barack Obama won.  This AP news write-up draws more of the same conclusions many of us already know: white people stayed home, african-americans voted in droves, wash, rinse, repeat:

America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, analyzed the 2012 elections for the AP using census data on eligible voters and turnout, along with November’s exit polling. He estimated total votes for Obama and Romney under a scenario where 2012 turnout rates for all racial groups matched those in 2004. Overall, 2012 voter turnout was roughly 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.

The Battlegrounds:

Romney would have erased Obama’s nearly 5 million-vote victory margin and narrowly won the popular vote if voters had turned out as they did in 2004, according to Frey’s analysis. Then, white turnout was slightly higher and black voting lower.

More significantly, the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Colorado would have tipped in favor of Romney, handing him the presidency if the outcome of other states remained the same.

Colorado GOTV: Reconciling Election Results & Exit Poll Data by David Ramos

This is a look at the aftermath of the Colorado GOP ground game by reader David Ramos:

The pundits have had their two cents commenting what the election results and exit polling data says and does not say. In this case, a summary of how Colorado voted in the election using exit polling data available at Fox News and election vote numbers available at the Denver Post. Please note exit polling data and actual vote data may have changed over the past few days.

The D/R/I split –

In the 2008 election, the party split on election day was Democrat 30%, Republican 31% and Independents 39%. If the election were based strictly on these numbers, Romney would have carried the state. Both sides did very well in keeping their core voter bases. If there was any crossover voting, it was pretty much a wash. Neither gained much from these type of voters. The unaffiliated (independent) voters, according to exit polling, went for Romney by a 50-45 margin. This would indicate unaffiliated voters in Colorado essentially returned to their conservative-leaning roots. Following the party ID D/R/I split, it appears Romney was the preferred choice.

This poses the question on how Romney, then, could not carry Colorado by leading with unaffiliated voters by a 5-point margin. Brit Hume on election night alluded to “moderate” voters. Hume surmised many who call themselves “moderate” are actually reliably liberal Democrat voters. They don’t view themselves holding extreme positions, or consider themselves to ever vote for a Republican. When the exit poll asked “how you view your political alignment, liberal-moderate-conservative”, moderates in Colorado broke for Obama by 8-10 points. That alone, Obama was able to negate whatever vote advantage Romney may have had with the D/R/I split.

Down Ballot Influence –

With no statewide offices or contentious initiatives on the ballot, there was very little or no influence that could sway the presidential race in one direction or another. The congressional races were pretty much tame, with the incumbents expected to hold their seats. In the Republican held congressional districts, it appears some voters may have split their ballot – keeping their Republican congressmen and voting for Obama.

The most serious challenge the Democrats made was in CD 6, a district that has reliably voted Republican since the lines were first drawn. Reapportionment had shifted more Democrat voters into the district. As such, the Democrats thought they may have a chance of beating popular Republican incumbent Mike Coffman. Coffman held his seat by a 50-45 margin, even narrowly carrying Arapahoe County, a swing county that was carried by Obama. In CD 5, the Republicans had no Democrat challenger, allowing incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn to handily win re-election. Yet, one county in CD 5 was carried by Obama and two counties were narrowly won by Romney. Lamborn won those same counties by comfortable margins. In Republican stronghold El Paso County, the centerpiece of CD 5, apparently there were unaffiliated voters who chose Obama over Romney. Romney won El Paso County by a 57-43 margin, slightly improving on McCain’s 55-45 win in 2008. For a Republican to strongly compete for Colorado and help offset the Democrat margins in the Denver Metro area, El Paso County needs to be carried by at least a 65-35 margin. In 2000, Bush 43 carried the county by a 68-32 margin. In 2004, Bush 43 won by a 75-25 margin (best-ever).

Reconciling the numbers –

With reports of widespread failures in the Project Orca GOTV, it might be quite fair to say Colorado slipped away from the Romney column in the same way. Heading into election night, Team Romney believed it would be able to flip Colorado into their column. There was good optimism and high enthusiasm based on the huge Red Rocks rally and the Fiddler’s Green rally (Nov 3). But, then again, large rallies are not good indicators of election results. George McGovern, for example, was drawing large rally crowds at the end of his campaign. And, John Kerry drew a crowd of 80,000+ in Madison, only to win Wisconsin in 2004 by a narrow margin.

Shortly before the polls closed in Colorado, Team Romney believed their numbers pointed to a win. With 1.9 million early votes cast, a possible 800,000 votes could be cast on election day. As noted previously, no one knew how anyone voted in the early voting period. PPP suggested Obama held a 6-point lead among unaffiliated voters, giving him a slight lead going into election day. From exit polling, unaffiliated voters were breaking for Romney 50-45. It appears unaffiliated voters actually broke for Obama instead, and not Romney.

It appears, though, the difference between the Romney and Obama campaigns is the turnout model. The Obama campaign thought they would be able to recreate a portion of their 2008 turnout by getting the turnout they needed from the groups they needed. The Romney campaign turnout model was based on turnout levels would return to historical norms. Dick Morris, Karl Rove, and others on the conservative side believed turnout levels would return to historical norms. While Obama lost half of his victory margin in Colorado compared to 2008, a reduction in victory margin was likely calculated into their turnout model.

— David Ramos

0.3% is the Difference Between President Romey and President Obama

A strategic shift in 0.3% of the vote changes the President of the United States. Of course it matters greatly where those 0.3% are located as Team Obama knew from Day 1 while Team Romney keeps smacking their forehead saying “Now they tell us!” Jim Geraghty keeps up with the turnout math:

[H]ere is an updated set of numbers, according to the results this morning on the New York Timesresults map:

Florida: 73,858

Ohio: 103,481

Virginia: 115,910

Colorado: 113,099

Those four states, with a collective margin of, 406,348 for Obama, add up to 69 electoral votes. Had Romney won 407,000 or so additional votes in the right proportion in those states, he would have 275 electoral votes.

Obama’s margin in some other key states:

Nevada: 66,379

Iowa: 88,501

New Hampshire: 40,659

At this hour, 120,556, 279 votes for Obama and Romney have been counted nationwide.

More Reports of Project ORCA Fail

Here is a report from one of our own readers Tom in Arizona on the epic failure of the Romney Get Out the Vote effort:

I volunteered for the Romney campaign election day task force on 10/21/2012.  I received the following email on 10/22/2012:

Hi Tom,

 Thank you very much for your interest in being involved with the Romney-Ryan Election Day Task Force! Your help will be vital on Election Day. It will take up to 2 days to process you into our volunteer system, but we will be in touch with further information very soon.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at C********o@mittromney.com.

Thank you very much,

dc

To keep this short, after four days of no further contact, I started trying to contact the campaign myself over the remaining days before the election.  I tried the above email on 6 different occasions with no further replies.  I tried calling 3 different victory centers, most of which went to voice mail, and some of those voice mail boxes were full.  I spoke with “live” people twice, both of which said they’d get back to me.  Neither did.  I’m in AZ and I told them I could go to CO if necessary or help by making phone calls from home if they already had enough volunteers in CO.  I also told them I could do anything else they need, just let me know.  I NEVER HEARD BACK!  It failed before it began.

I saw your post on Gravity yesterday and why they wouldn’t use that is beyond me.  The private sector had the solution and Romney failed to use it.  How ironic.

Regards,

Tom in Arizona

The blame lies far higher than the Romney staffer in the above email but this is only the latest example of how Mitt Romney’s staff failed him at the least opportune time.  Considering there were 37,000 volunteers for Project ORCA, if each person gotten people to the polls across Colorado, Ohio, Virginia and Florida we would be talking about President Romney today.

The Epic Failure That Was Team Romney’s Get Out the Vote Fiasco

If you care at all about the how and why the Romney campaign failed so miserably to turnout the vote, you have to read this entire entry by John Ekdahl at Ace of Spades:

What is Project Orca? Well, this is what they told us:

Project ORCA is a massive undertaking – the Republican Party’s newest, unprecedented and most technologically advanced plan to win the 2012 presidential election.

Pretty much everything in that sentence is false. The “massive undertaking” is true, however. It would take a lot of planning, training and coordination to be done successfully (oh, we’ll get to that in a second). This wasn’t really the GOP’s effort, it was Team Romney’s. And perhaps “unprecedented” would fit if we’re discussing failure. The entire purpose of this project was to digitize the decades-old practice of strike lists. The old way was to sit with your paper and mark off people that have voted and every hour or so, someone from the campaign would come get your list and take it back to local headquarters. Then, they’d begin contacting people that hadn’t voted yet and encourage them to head to the polls. It’s worked for years.

After giving you a blow by blow recount of this colossal failure that you must read, he concludes:

[T]he end result was that 30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated when they could have been doing anything else to help. Like driving people to the polls, phone-banking, walking door-to-door, etc. We lost by fairly small margins in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado. If this had worked could it have closed the gap? I sure hope not for my sanity’s sake. The bitter irony of this entire endeavor was that a supposedly small government candidate gutted the local structure of GOTV efforts in favor of a centralized, faceless organization in a far off place (in this case, their Boston headquarters). Wrap your head around that.

Ads or Votes? You Decide

This is a lesson for candidates and organizations who want to win rather than consultants who want to bilk clients for millions in fees:

Judging by the current vote totals, Romney’s nationwide operation fell far short of McCain’s in 2008.  In fact, Romney currently trails McCain by around 2 million votes.  2 million!  That number is mind-boggling.  How did the Republican candidate facing the worst president in modern history manage to get 2 million fewer votes than in 2008? Granted, that number may narrow a bit as more votes are counted, but it’s astonishing that Romney’s votes are even in the neighborhood of McCain’s.

GOTV Fail

[T]he Republican party establishment’s micro-targeting of voters, from surveying voters to a get-out-the-vote, or GOTV, operation — if you can even call it an operation — was a joke.  Take Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, for example.  Had Romney won those states, he would be celebrating victory today.  The media would have you believe that he was trounced there.  That’s not the case. Romney lost all four states — and the presidency — by less than 400,000 votes.  He lost Colorado by 111,000, Florida by 47,000, Ohio by 100,000, and Virginia by 108,000.  That’s it. Romney was locked out of the White House by about 366,000 votes.

Ads versus votes

Now imagine an alternate universe in which the Republican party’s consultants, power brokers, and money men invested in legitimate micro-targeting and GOTV efforts with technology that works (like Gravity. . . not Orca). Instead, millions were spent on endless ads that not only failed to move the needle in the age of TiVo and DVR but will keep the lights on for many TV stations that are less than friendly to the conservative movement.

Priorities

According to news reports, American Crossroads — by far the best-funded force outside the RNC and the congressional committees — and its affiliates raked in $300 million during the 2012 election cycle.  Imagine if a fraction of that money had been spent on voter identification and GOTV efforts in the states mentioned above. It’s not like it was a secret as to where this election was going to be won or lost. It was a universe of no more than 9 states. Think about just $2M per state invested into GOTV. That’s $18M well spent. Instead, that money now pads the bank accounts of various individuals who, if not already millionaires before this cycle started, certainly are now.

It’s the difference between President Obama and President Romney

Team Romney GOTV Excuse Making Doesn’t Pass the Laugh Test

Per usual, Mike Murphy remains the very last person the GOP should ever listen to:

You Can’t Win If You Can’t Get Your People to Vote

That had been the Democrats problem for decades.  It changed in 2008 and repeated itself in 2012.

The limits to running such an insular campaign out of Boston, Massachusetts reared its head at the worst possible moment for Mitt Romney.  The more numbers that come out the more it shows the GOTV effort was an epic failure that likely cost him the election. It sure seems like they etch-a-sketched enough conservatives out of the fold to prevent Romney from overcoming Obama’s greatly reduced vote from 2008.

Like I wrote on election night when I was still optimistic:

I’m watching the turnout % in Dem precincts.  We know Republicans will show up, the question is how many Dems are still left out there and will they show up.  Anecdotal things look really good right now but I know how the #s ebb and flow and then suddenly in a deep urban precinct 120% of votes come in and everything you were modeling goes out the window.  The only states I’m watching are Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin — the acknowledge Obama firewall.

The fatal flaw is obvious now.  I’m incredulous.

This captures my attitude today every time I look at the data:

GOTV Raw Meat for the Converted

Here is the memo from the RNC’s Rick Wiley on tomorrow’s Get Out the Vote designed to bury the Obama machine

Enjoy:

[W]e are poised to blow the Obama campaign out on Election Day thanks to a superior GOTV program and a historical GOP Election Day advantage In the four party-registration states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada), we are poised to win the Election Day vote by even greater margins than we did in 2008. That’s right, Jeremy Bird, we beat you on Election Day even in 2008. This time around we have over 150,000 volunteers across the battleground who have already contacted over 53 million voters and expect to contact millions more from now until the polls close tomorrow night.

Who is the cannibal?

In Colorado there are over 26,000 (34%) more high-propensity Republican voters available than high-propensity Democrat voters. In Florida there are 166,000 (21%) more; 85,000 (47%) more in Iowa; and 16,000 (22%) more in Nevada.

And in Ohio, Republicans have 368,000 more high-propensity voters available than Democrats–72 percent more, in fact–and enough to off-set the Obama campaign’s most optimistic (and unrealistic) early vote math.

Field Office trash talk

The Obama campaign’s superior ground game is a myth. They claim they have double and triple the people and offices across the country, yet poll after poll has shown voters have been contacted equally if not more by the Romney campaign and the Republicans. It goes to show you what big government bureaucracy gets you.

I’m glad Democrats are so eager to talk about their ground game. The more they talk, the more they prove the numbers don’t add up. It’s (ground) game over.

Senator Sharon Angle Agrees With Nate Silver: Barack Obama has an 84% Chance of Winning

Nate Silver has his usual spin on outrageously absurd election outcome odds:

President Obama is now better than a 4-in-5 favorite to win the Electoral College, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast. His chances of winning it increased to 83.7 percent on Friday, his highest figure since the Denver debate and improved from 80.8 percent on Thursday.

He shows a bunch of polls from a murder’s row of bad polling where Obama is leading and maps out three arguments where they could be wrong.  After arguing and dismissing the first two he concludes:

That leaves only the final source of polling error, which is the potential that the polls might simply have been wrong all along because of statistical bias.

You don’t say!

The FiveThirtyEight forecast accounts for this possibility…I do not mean to imply that the polls are biased in Mr. Obama’s favor. But there is the chance that they could be biased in either direction…My argument, rather, is this: we’ve about reached the point where if Mr. Romney wins, it can only be because the polls have been biased against him. Almost all of the chance that Mr. Romney has in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, about 16 percent to win the Electoral College, reflects this possibility.

Silver makes such pronouncements with outlandish statistical weights as if it is nearly unbelievable that the poll results could be wrong.  One of the main purposes of this blog was to look at the exact same polls, analyze the internal data and test whether the poll data match up with the poll results.  We found that time after time after time the results unequivocally do not match up with the internal data.  Thanks to Sean Davis, we are reminded this was the identical situation only 2 years ago is probably the highest profile race where a deeply unpopular Senate Majority leader was behind in nearly every poll yet still won.

Out of 14 polls between October 1 and election day, Sharon Angle led in 12 of those polls.  Her average lead on election day according to Real Clear Politics was +2.6.  She lost by -5.6 points — an 8.2 point swing.  The polls were not just wrong, but WAY wrong.  Could anyone analyzing the internals of these polls see this?  Why yes they could. But even in the highest profile contest of the cycle, almost no one did such an analysis. The few who did, Democrat pollster Mark Mellman, Republican pollster Glen Bolger and liberal reporter/columnist Jon Ralston, all consistently said the polls were wrong — and each was largely ignored until proven correct on election day.  Why did they know this?  Because they looked at the data in the polls and said the internal information does not reflect the top-line results and the Nevada electorate on election day will not reflect what these polls are indicating. They were right and the polls were wrong … by A LOT.

Today we have an identical dichotomy where the stat gurus like Nate Silver say Obama has an 84% chance of winning because that is what the top-line poll numbers tell him.  Nate Silver called the Nevada Senate race incorrectly because the poll data was wrong.  His accuracy is predicated on accurate polls.  Mountains of evidence says today’s Presidential polls are equally as wrong as the Nevada Senate polls.

Critics of the polls on the Right, like myself, of whom even Silver concedes offer “intellectually coherent” critiques say the results on November 6 will be very different. Maybe Nate Silver is correct and Barack Obama will be re-elected President on November 6.  But any analysis of the data in those same state polls he relies on says the voting preference of Independents, the increased turnout of Republicans, the decreased turnout of Democrats, the change in favor of Republicans in early voting, Romney’s favorability on the election’s top issue (economy) and numerous other factors will result in President Romney on November 6.  United States Senator Sharon Angle from Nevada may disagree.

Door-to-Door Combat

A candidate can run the slickest campaign with best ads and still lose if they don’t get their people to the booth on election day or cast their ballot ahead of time. In the campaign’s final weeks the all-important ground game will take center stage and each campaign has strong arguments for holding the upper hand:

Get-out-the-vote efforts have moved front and center for both campaigns, particularly here in Florida, reflecting the tightening of the race in all the battleground states and nationally. With Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney…preparing for their third and final debate…their surrogates Mr. Biden and Representative Paul D. Ryan were busy firing up their bases, the essence of voter turnout.

Lessons from 2008

Republicans say that this time around, they are light-years ahead of the lackluster voter turnout efforts in 2008 for Senator John McCain, whose campaign began running short of money in the late stages. “We learned from a lot of research and testing that volunteer door knocking is the purest form of voter contact,” said Rich Beeson, national political director for the Romney campaign.

Air war parity

Both sides acknowledge that as they pour millions of dollars into television ads, a rough parity will exist in the air war. In the coming week, the Obama campaign and its outside allies and the Romney campaign and its backers will spend roughly the same in Florida, totaling over $8 million, according to a firm that tracks political advertising.

Two strong hands

Both sides cite a blizzard of numbers to show who is doing a better job contacting and motivating voters one by one. Mr. Biden said Democrats had registered 14,264 new voters before the deadline Oct. 9. Republicans counter that since 2008 they have added enough new voters to narrow Democrats’ historic registration advantage by 150,000. Democrats boast of 104 field offices in Florida, where 29 electoral votes are at stake. Republicans say that at their 47 offices so many new volunteers have come forward since Mr. Romney’s commanding first debate performance that the intensity is on their side.

Mitt Romney’s Campaign, RNC Have 60+ Staffers In Pennsyvania, Planning More

Here was the original headline in the Sam Stein piece:

Mitt Romney’s Campaign Pushes In Pennsylvania; Candidate, RNC Send 60+ Staffers To State

He then wrote this correction:

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said that the Romney campaign and the RNC planned to send 60-plus staffers to Pennsylvania. In fact, there are already 60 staffers in the state and their plan is to send additional staff, adding to the 60.

Still good news, just not the overwhelming show of force implied with the orginal headline/story … grrrrr

The grassroots are already there (via Instapundit):

SHOWING UP: Reader Christian Aranda is attending election-monitor training at Romney HQ in Philadelphia and reports: “Packed house.”

Now the official reinforcements are getting sent in:

The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee are planning to send more than 60 staffers to Pennsylvania for the closing two weeks of the presidential election, a RNC official told The Huffington Post. The move is the clearest sign to date that Republicans view the Keystone State as in play this November, though it’s not entirely clear whether the staffing is being done as a head-fake for Democrats or out of general electoral optimism. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign had previously moved its Pennsylvania communications director to Virginia. That communications director was recently caught tweeting from Virginia even as vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was appearing at a Pittsburgh-area rally.

Addendum: This move supplements the Old Line Staters (that’s Maryland for you out-of-towners) who are there already:

“In my opinion, any active Republican not currently working on a local campaign should be heading to Virginia or Pennsylvania,” said Chris Cavey, a longtime GOP leader in Maryland who is vice chair of Romney’s state campaign. “When it’s within the margin of error, you can’t say which door or set of doors … or which phone call it was that made the difference.” Both campaigns are exporting hundreds of Maryland volunteers to neighboring states each weekend. They travel on buses or carpool into critical precincts. They knock on doors, hand out campaign literature and staff telephone banks. Sometimes they are waved off by voters weary of the attention that living in a political battleground brings. Occasionally, initial encounters between strangers spark conversations that continue for weeks. With 16 days to go before the Nov. 6 election, such scenes are playing out across the country. In Alabama — where voters last chose a Democratic candidate for president in 1976 — the state Republican Party is organizing bus trips to Ohio and Florida, a spokeswoman said.

In Pennsylvania Saturday, about 25 Maryland Republicans joined the local GOP in going door-to-door in the Delaware County town of Havertown. Some of the Marylanders came aboard a charter a bus, others by car. For much of the year Pennsylvania appeared to be solidly in the Obama column, but that may be changing. Public polls show the president has a roughly 6 percentage point lead in the state, but Republicans in Pennsylvania were cheered Saturday by a new Susquehanna Poll showing Romney pulling ahead in a state Obama won by 10 points in 2008.

The Maryland contingent Saturday was led by Harford County Executive David Craig, Romney’s county campaign chair and a prospective candidate for governor. His mission: to help turn a light-blue state into a light-red state. His instructions to the troops: Leave the Ravens gear at home. It is, after all, Philadelphia Eagles country. Among those getting on the bus at a Harford park-and-ride were Aaron Tomarchio of Bel Air and his 14-year-old political prodigy nephew, Brandon Vaughn. Tomarchio said he’s been involved in every presidential race since 1988 and is no stranger to traveling out-of-state to campaign for Republicans — including a 2004 foray into West Virginia on behalf of President George W. Bush.

Go Terps!

Quick Hits

Lots of good stuff out there that doesn’t fit neatly in this blog or merit a full post so I thought it was time for another one of these:

Calif. official whose agency under-reported unemployment stats was Obama campaign donor.

Volunteer to get out the vote in Florida tonight: Join the FreedomWorks Grassroots team for a comprehensive look at the best techniques for getting out the vote.

Ben over at Ace of Spades volunteered for the Romney using the election day task force link in the sidebar. They sent him an online training course that took 10 minutes. He provides tons of info in you’re so inclined.

Things on the ground in New Hampshire are looking up. First hand report over at the Powerline Blog. (h/t Housebroken Dad)

Attempts to diminish GOP early voting gains in Ohio are being met with rightful derision by Moe Lane. (h/t Medicine Man)

@NUmbersMuncher has a great post at Natiponal Review’s The Corner regarding the Romney lead with Independents in EVERY national poll, typically averaging +8.3%. (h/t No Tribe)

PPP is scrambling to rehabilitate its reputation with a few reasonable polls down the stretch since election “look backs” always focus on the later polls released in the cycle.

David Yepsen: “Romney Is Closing” In Iowa

Real Clear Politics put together the transcript of a great segment on Fox News yesterday:

David Yepsen, former Des Moines Register reporter and current director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, discusses the state of the race in Iowa.

“I think Obama is very narrowly ahead, and Romney is closing,” Yepsen says. “I say that for a lot of reasons, but the big one is the Republicans are doing a far better job on absentee ballots than they’ve ever done before. Democrats have always done a very good job with that, and so, I think that’s the reason why you can say Romney’s closing. This race feels a lot like 2000, 2004. Gore won by about four votes per precinct. President Bush in 2004 won by about 10 votes per precinct. So, this is really about the ground game now. All this TV is just muzak now. It’s not having much impact. It’s all about who’s going to get out the last few people to go vote.”

Status of the Iowa Early Vote

Former Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign operative Adrian Gray has been the “go to” source all things in early Iowa voting.  Only last night Gray tweeted out the following:

Now we have the top Iowa journalist, Jennifer Jacobs digging through the data and filing the best update on Iowa early voting:

For weeks, the Obama campaign has gone all out to trumpet the Democrats’ lead in early voting in Iowa, but the GOP has gained momentum since absentee ballots became available.

GOP resurgence

Republican voters’ requests for ballots have eclipsed the Democrats for 10 straight days, significantly shrinking President Barack Obama’s advantage, state records show.

Democrat strength

Obama campaign aides note that they’re running the biggest early-vote effort Iowa has ever seen, almost doubling the number of absentee ballots cast for their side at this point four years ago. Twenty-five days out from Election Day in 2008, the number of votes cast by Iowa Democrats was about 54,500. This year, about 115,000 had been cast.

Democrat playbook

In April, Obama campaign aides began their big push for Democratic voters to fill out paperwork to request an absentee ballot, then cast it by mail or in person. In contrast, the Republicans say their plan was to target efforts to Sept. 27, the first day absentee ballots could be turned in. As of now, Democrats are ahead — in both ballots requested (68,000 more than Republicans) and ballots cast (53,000 more), Iowa secretary of state records show.

GOP history

GOP voters in Iowa are more inclined to vote on Election Day than by absentee ballot. Four years ago, Republican John McCain won among Iowa votes cast exclusively on Election Day — 16,804 more Republicans than Democrats turned out. That was a 2.5 percentage-point edge for the GOP, even though McCain lost by nearly 10 points. Absentee ballots the Obama campaign had whipped up from voters in the preceding weeks made the difference.

Dueling claims

On Thursday, the Obama campaign held a press call to talk up the campaign’s strength in early voting in swing states. In Iowa, “Democrats lead in vote-by-mail ballots, in-person early voting, total voting and total ballot requests,” Jeremy Byrd, national field director, told reporters. In a memo Monday, Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson, countered that, saying so far 94 percent of the early votes in the swing states have not yet been cast when compared to the pace of four years ago. “To claim a ‘big advantage’ based off of a phase that’s just 6 percent complete is almost as absurd as predicting the outcome of a baseball game after the second out,” Beeson wrote.

Momentum shift

In Iowa, momentum on ballots requested began to turn Sept. 29, according to the state’s tally. The trajectory has favored Republicans for 10 reports in a row since then. On vote-by-mail and in-person ballots, during the period since ballots became available, the GOP picked up about 99,000 returned ballots, while the Democrats picked up about 75,000, state records show.

Minding the gap

Neither side thinks Republicans will entirely surpass Democrats in absentee ballot participation in the next three weeks — the Obama campaign is promoting it more, and history suggests the Democrats will maintain the edge. The Republicans’ mission is to keep narrowing the gap over the next 21 days, Kochel said. Romney backers believe they will easily surpass McCain’s previous 2.5 percentage-point edge in Election Day turnout and come closer then ever to matching the Democrats’ absentee ballots this year. If they’re right, Romney would be within striking distance.

The 2010 blueprint

Iowa Democrats led in absentee ballots in 2010, but lost heavily in the general election. Currently, among active voters in Iowa, the GOP has a registration advantage of 11,000.

Metrics to watch

Messina said he’s a data-driven guy, and the most telling numbers of the election are the registered voters, ballots requested and early votes cast.

GOP Winning Absentee Voting in Virginia

Early voting has grow dramatically over the last few election cycles and reading the tea leaves is becoming a cottage industry. Today we see genuinely positive news for the Romney campaign regarding absentee voting in Virginia with a few caveats outlined at the very bottom.  An analysis of absentee voting in Virginia reveals the following:

Early absentee ballot in Virginia is brisk in cities and counties that voted Republican in the last presidential election, according to a breakdown of absentee ballots cast so far this year for the November 6 election. As of Friday, the State Board of Elections reports that 60,612 voters had mailed in an absentee ballot or cast an absentee vote in person since September 21. This year, Virginia Republicans are mobilizing supporters to “vote early” this year, to avoid a repeat of 2008 when Obama won nearly two-thirds of the 511,933 absentee ballots cast in Virginia.

  • Seven of the 10 localities reporting the fastest rate of absentee voting this year compared to four years ago were won by Republican John McCain.
  • Seven of the 10 localities reporting the slowest pace of absentee balloting this year were carried by Democrat Barack Obama.

The lessons from this analysis are more stark if you look at them in reverse.  The “slow” Obama localities lead you to draw inferences that enthusiasm is way down for Obama, which is consistent with everything we see in polls.  When you combine that with the “fast” McCain localities you see high enthusiasm in GOP hotbeds which exacerbates the bad news for Obama and good news for Romney.  These types of changes are huge considering one of the ways Obama won so decisively in 2008 was the volume of votes he banked before election day often creating insurmountable advantages.

LOCALITIES WITH THE MOST BRISK ABSENTEE VOTING LOCALITIES WITH THE SLOWEST RATE OF ABSENTEE VOTING

BTW: On the “slowest localities” I think the chart is supposed to be in reverse order but I just used the original graphics.

Caveats

I do genuinely believe the above analysis is correct and Romney 2012 is capturing the enthusiasm wave mentioned.  However, evidence like the above is why I am hesitant to blog early voting. The takeaways are really anecdotal not certain, meaning they can lead you to draw logical inferences that may be completely untrue beneath the surface.

Democrat Perspective

If you take the exact same numbers from above, you could argue something very different is going on. Every poll shows Barack Obama has his base locked up, even moreso than Romney. And many of these demographics support him to such high levels he has little room to find more votes among those groups. So if Obama is going to find votes he needs to send his ground troops into red areas and make certain every last Obama person in an otherwise red area votes.  The way to do that is a) find them, and b) convince them to vote early.  To be clear Obama achieved this to wonderful success in 2008 and there is little reason to believe he can’t do similar in 2012.  To assume otherwise is hubris and politically dangerous. Under this analysis, Team Obama who has a history of success in early voting may be achieving the same success as 2008, but now they’re doing it in red areas. So the “fast” red localities are really just the vaunted Obama ground game playing on their opponent’s turf while the “slow” Obama localities are are areas where Obama is confident those votes are locked up in his favor and they can get attention later in the race. this is how a Democrat might see the exact same numbers and they are not necessarily wrong.

That said, I do not believe this second analysis is accurate based on the nature of Obama’s campaign strategy which is a base turnout.  Obama does not campaign in Battleground Counties like Romney does, his campaign is one of division towards targeted Democrat demographics not reaching out to red areas, and these findings are consistent the enthusiasm gap we see nationwide.  I only point out this alternative, and defensible, view point so we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves over metrics that while positive for the GOP are not as certain to achieve the results glass-half-full partisans might think.

Who is Winning the Voter Registration Battle?

We have covered the voter registration rather extensively and often found the GOP making great strides compared to their 2008 effort (even in gawd awful Nevada).  With the voter registration window closing in most every state, Dante Chinni, who studies these Battlegrounds even where there isn’t an election, stepped back to look at who is actually “winning” the voter registration battle. It’s not as easy to assess as you might think because with most statistics in an election season, both side can make compelling arguments why their side has the advantage:

 Every few years America’s major political parties get very interested in getting people registered to vote – or maybe more accurately, in getting the “right” people registered to vote. It’s a lot easier to come up with a winning hand on Election Day when the deck is stacked in your favor. So, for months now, supporters of President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have been knocking on doors and standing corners trying to register like-minded people. election every vote may count, particularly in the swing states.

Who’s winning?

That depends on the state you look at and the comparison point you choose. Both sides can point to some numbers in their favor. But when you step back and look at the numbers in fuller context, the real question may be how much those Democratic and Republican registrations will really matter. The Obama team is up in registrations in key states, as they noted this week, but overall it could be argued Obama is having a bit of a down year. The percentage of voters registered as Democrats in every one of these states is lower than it was in 2008.  And there were drops of two percentage points or greater in Florida, Iowa and North Carolina. That said, 2012 has not been a gangbusters year for the GOP either. The percentage of Republican registrations is up in one state compared to 2008 – Iowa – slightly down in three others – Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina – and they are flat Pennsylvania and Florida. On the whole, however, when you look at all the current numbers, as a measure of enthusiasm or interest, compared to 2008 they would seem to indicate: advantage GOP.

Is 2008 the correct comparison?

Using the 2008 election as a measuring stick is problematic, though. It was not a normal race. There was big enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle. Voter registration counts were up in most states across the country – in some cases sharply. And remember Mr. Obama won that race comfortably, by seven percentage points and nearly 200 electoral votes. In other words, team Obama probably doesn’t need to match those figures to win — and if you use a different year as your comparison point, the question of “who’s winning” in the registration war shifts considerably.

2004?

Consider the registration numbers from 2004, the last time the Republican candidate won the White House. If you compare the most recent 2012 registration numbers to 2004 figures, the percentage of voters registered as Democrats is up in four of the six states – all but Florida and North Carolina. Meanwhile, the percentage of voters registered as Republicans is down in five of the six states. It is up in only Iowa. So, using that measure: advantage Democrats.

Caveats

But before either party celebrates anything, there are a few points worth noting. While it’s tempting to think that registrations are some kind of indicator for a coming election – and we’re sure to hear a lot about them in the next few weeks – they can also be deceptive, particularly when it comes to national elections. There are often local issues, political and historical, that can push voters to register as Democrats or Republicans.

New Hampshire

Only 27% of the people in the Granite State were registered as Democrats in 2004, while 31% were registered as Republicans – yet the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry, won the state by a little more than one percentage point. In 2008, the Democrats saw a slight improvement in registrations, up to 29.5%, but Mr. Obama won the state in a landslide – by almost 10 percentage points. In fact, he won every county in the state.

The Independent trump card

Right now the 2012 election looks like its shaping up to be very close. And yes, a few more registrations for Democrats or Republicans may matter. But look closer at the registrations numbers in those states. In every one of them one group has grown in every state since 2008, independents – voters who aren’t registered with either party. They make up double-digits of the electorate in each state, and the way they split their vote will likely be decisive.

Thankfully for us, Romney is up HUGE with Independents.

Paul Ryan’s Mother Makes 9 Millionth Florida Phone Call

8x more calls than McCain’s campaign in 2008 … why does anyone ever listen to senior 2008 campaign officials Steve Schmidt or Nicole Wallace about anything?

Will the Party ID really look like R + 2 or R +3?

The just released Pew Research poll showing Mitt Romney up 4-points has the political blogosphere and twitterverse (can we get one name for the two?) up in arms over the party identification of respondents which was R +2.75 (Dem 32.5, Rep 35.25, Ind 29.5). But is that any more correct than the D +7 or D +10 samples we on the Right have indignantly complained about all election cycle? We have asked this question before and have seen detailed analysis of the trends and historical data which on average has been D +3 since 1980.

But what struck me in the Pew Poll was the party identification is  oddly similar to the current Rasmussen party identification that he releases on a monthly basis. Why do we care how close it is to Rasmussen?  Because he nailed the last two elections despite wild swings in the electorate’s preference.

Rasmussen Reports released his party ID for September last week and commenter “blcjr” took the raw data Rasmussen makes available to show you how trends have changed over time from 2004 through today.  Below is Rasmussen’s month-end party ID for each October in Presidential years and therefore the result immediately before the actual election.  We compared that with the exit polling party ID provided by the Winston Group:

Year Rasmussen Actual
2004 D +1.5 (Dem 38.7, Rep 37.2) D +0 (Dem 38, Rep 38)
2008 D +7.1 (Dem 40.3, Rep 33.3) D +7 (Dem 40, Rep 33)
2012 (Sep) R +2.6 (Dem 34.2, Rep 36.8) ?????

In the two prior Presidential election years Rasmussen essentially nailed the party identification and accurately captured the ground swell in favor of Democrats in 2008.  Not coincidentally Rasmussen called the 2004 election within 1% and nailed the 2008 election on the nose.  If party identification is to Republicans advantaged by near +2.6%, Romney should win overwhelmingly, much like the results we see in today’s Pew Poll with a party identification of R +2.75.

Chart compliments of commenter “blcjr”:

Party identification over time since 2004 through September 2012

The Debate Game-Changer in Pennsylvania

Only the staunchest of partisans refused to admit that Pennsylvania was trending strongly towards Obama among the Battleground States.  The reality was while Romney almost certainly will outperform John McCain in 2008, it was simply too much ground to make up across a diverse and changing state.  That all may have changed when Mitt Romney announced his presence with authority in the recent debate.  Ruth-Ann Dailey at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes a look at the sudden sea change in Romney Pennsylvania campaign offices as well as across the state:

Days before besting President Barack Obama in their first debate, Republican candidate Mitt Romney was telling a cheering crowd in Wayne, Pa., “We’re going to win Pennsylvania,” while his aides were admitting to reporters that they probably could not. The day after the debate, the 24 Romney offices throughout Pennsylvania fielded 100 new volunteers and had another 200 re-up for new shifts, according to campaign staff. “The Dems seem to think they’ve had [this state] in their pockets for a long time,” said Billy Pitman, the Romney campaign’s state spokesman, “but we’ve got an incredible ground game.

Disaffected 2008 Obama supporters

Whether it’s “incredible” or not, the dissatisfied former Obama voters that the new Romney volunteers will be targeting have actually been out there for two years or more, their numbers growing and — inexplicably, to some — overlooked. Larry Taylor is one of them. A coal miner and registered Democrat in Greene County, he paused a few days ago at an Emerald Mine portal to talk politics before his shift began. Yes, he voted for President Obama in 2008, but in this year’s primary, he left the presidential slot blank. Yes, that was on purpose. No, he won’t be voting for Mr. Obama come November.

The “undervote”

There are thousands of Democrats like him across the commonwealth. They are part of the “undervote” — primary voters who failed or declined, for whatever reason, to vote for their own party’s unopposed incumbent. Some write in another candidate’s name; others leave that section blank, since there’s no real contest, or because they intend, like Larry Taylor, to announce a resounding “no.” In any given year, says Keegan Gibson, managing editor of PoliticsPA.com, the undervote in a statewide or national race might range “from 15 to 23 percent — but usually it’s fairly consistent in most counties.” This year was different. President Obama’s undervote ranged widely — from single digits in Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester counties to the mid-40s in north-central and southwestern Pennsylvania. In 37 counties his undervote was above 25 percent, and in 16 of those, it topped 35 percent.

War on coal

A quick look at a state map reveals a substantial overlap between counties where the undervote was high and counties where the coal and natural gas industries are strong. The nearest to Pittsburgh is Greene County, where hundreds, even thousands, of lawn signs read, “Stop the War on Coal — Fire Obama.” Here, 3,863 (of 14,318) registered Democrats voted in the spring primary, but only 2,247 voted for President Obama — a 42 percent undervote. By contrast, the Greene County undervote for the unopposed Eugene DePasquale (for auditor general) and Rob McCord (for state treasurer) was only 30 percent. And in 2006, according to PoliticsPA, Gov. Ed Rendell’s undervote was 26 percent.

Ground game and turnout

[I]t’s another question whether these disaffected Democrats in the state’s less populated areas are numerous enough to offset the president’s much stronger support in its big cities. It all comes down to voter turnout — and each campaign’s “ground game.” The Obama website lists 45 offices statewide; Romney has 24. Back in November 2008, Greene County turnout was 64 percent; John McCain won here by 60 votes. The much-reviled “war on coal” has only reduced President Obama’s support.

Not single issue voters

At a fast-food spot near the interstate, a state employee who doesn’t want her name made public says the president lost her vote with “Obamacare.” “To me, it’s socialist — forcing people to do something they can’t afford.” At Hot Rod’s, a busy Waynesburg barbecue spot, Democrat Jeff Taylor, a factory worker and Desert Storm vet who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008, now describes himself as “on the fence” and said, “I don’t think his policies are working, but it seems like it doesn’t matter who’s in there.” Back at the Emerald Mine portal, only one of the dozen registered Democrats I interviewed says he still supports the president — and that’s because he figures the mining jobs lost to oppressive coal regulations won’t be any greater than those lost to the “outsourcing” he expects in a Romney economy.

Changing times

I stopped one man wearing an Iraq War ballcap, in a pickup with a Marine Corps window decal. I start my questions: Are you a registered Democrat? He smiles. “I was until last week.” Maybe Pennsylvania is in play.

How to Lose Florida: GOP 2008 Flashback

With all of the great Super Saturday numbers making news today, a couple people reminded me that Florida more so than most states is quite a different landscape for both Romney and Obama relative to 2008.  If you will recall Obama only won Florida by 236k votes or just 3% which was well off his national margin of 7%.

What was interesting about Florida in 2008 was its popular GOP Governor was supposed to be a huge asset and he allegedly had a wonderful relationship with John McCain making it all the more likely the GOP would enjoy decided structural advantages over Obama in the Sunshine State.  But that Governor was Charlie Crist and there was always something just not right about Crist that didn’t sit well with the the grass roots. First, he stabbed in the back his prior long-time friend Rudy Giuliani in the GOP primary whom he had previously promised to endorse. His endorsement for McCain on the eve of the primary effectively ended Rudy’s campaign (Giuliani had staked his entire ill-fated campaign on a good showing in Florida) and turned the race over to McCain.

What’s lesser know is how Charlie Crist was horse-trading his endorsement for a VP nod on the McCain ticket.  But when he was passed over for Sarah Palin, Crist pulled all his support for McCain and let the state party apparatus flounder which greatly impeded McCain throughout the remainder of the campaign. It was for these reasons the famous Florida photo of the Crist-Obama post-inauguration embrace was such a powder keg locally. Everyone in the state knew Crist actively undermined McCain once he didn’t get the VP slot.  This was part and parcel of the active recruitment by the grassroots — not hapless Sen. John Cornyn who wanted Crist — for a person to take down Crist in the 2010 Senate race.  Everyone knew Crist was a scoundrel of the highest order — though little different from the political class of the day currently getting drummed out each cycle.  And of course, today Crist has left the GOP, spoke at the Democrat Convention and is expected to run as a Democrat for Governor or similar in an upcoming election (my bet says he doesn’t make it out of the Dem primary).

But let’s take a look at exactly what hurdles Crist erected in front of the McCain campaign in 2008 that greatly assisted Obama:

These are all just off the top of my head or from the great work by Christian Camara.

Today, we have a GOP governor who will rally with the candidate and isn’t actively undermining the candidate. At the same time, the GOP is enjoying a net gain in Florida voter registrations greater than Obama’s entire margin of victory in 2008.

2012 is not 2008 and by nearly every metric the GOP is dramatically outpacing its 2008 performance.  When you combine that with an enthusiasm for Romney, antipathy for Obama and an extremely well-funded campaign, Florida looks ever more like the next state to fall for Team Romney.

Nevada Voter Registration Update

We got an update from Nevada expert Jon Ralston.  The final numbers are just coming in and Democrats made a furious comeback, especially in all important Clark County, to push back on the gains the GOP made this cycle in Nevada.  Despite that comeback the GOP closed the gap on the 2008 advantage:

This is still a good showing for the GOP since Democrats had a 100k voter registration advantage overall in 2008 and statewide the Republican Party had more than a few internal issues to overcome this cycle.  Great effort in the Silver State.

Super Saturday Update — Over 2.4 million contacts yesterday alone

Yesterday was another Super Saturday where campaign offices around the country knocked on doors, made phone calls and registered voters for the final crucial push into election day.  Some of the metrics are creeping through the wires right now.  Nearly all below is information direct from RNC political director Rick Wiley:

Overall:

  • #s just in, @mittromney & @gop ground game made 2.4 million volunteer voter contacts yesterday on Super Saturday.ROCK
  • over 30k volunteers took part in Super Saturday yesterday.Enthusiasm on our side
  • Great work from our amazing volunteers this week! We made 5,072,979 volunteer voter contacts this week alone. — Reince Priebus

Wisconsin:

  • Over 400k volunteer voter contacts made in WI this week, strong.Country strong

Virginia:

  • VA did over 250k volunteer voter contacts yesterday, including 100k doors and nearly 500k for the week.Killing it

Ohio:

  • OH made over 600k volunteer voter contacts this week.nearly a quarter million on the doors!Buckeye Blitz rocks it

Florida:

  • FL made over 1 million volunteer voter contacts this week. @mkdonlin & @tcdickens continue to rock it down there

Colorado:

  • Team CO made over 250k volunteer voter contacts this week. People clearly jacked following strong debate by @MittRomney

Colorado Republicans Flood Romney Campaign Offices After Debate

I missed this story the other day, but these are the metrics a candidate is looking for after a stellar debate performance. Money is crucial in every campaign but you need the ground troops to keep people inspired, make certain the are registered and ultimately get them to vote. Mitt Romney debate performance did all of those things:

Republicans have been showing up in droves at GOP victory offices around the state ever since the debate, said Ellie Wallace, Colorado victory communications director for the Republican National Committee. Thursday, the day after the debate, was the single biggest volunteer recruitment day for Colorado this cycle, she said, noting that almost twice as many volunteers came in to help than had been recruited and were expected to show up. Today, they had to almost double the number of phones at their state headquarters to accommodate the influx of new volunteers. It also was their biggest day of voter contact — calls and knocking on doors — in Colorado this election cycle.

(In the photo on the right, Jeffco GOP chairman Don Ytterberg and congressional candidate Joe Coors fire up volunteers at Mitt Romney’s victory headquarters.)

In Battleground Iowa, Early Voting Turnout Is Key

Nice look at the early voting in Iowa. Democrats always come out of the gate strong, but Republicans have flipped the script all over the state. Key nugget: “The Romney campaign and Republican National Committee had done more by April than John McCain did in Iowa by election day…”

A Look at Campaign Canvassers in Ohio

I have a great number of posts on the incredible performance of the Romney campaign’s ground forces.  The same efforts are being made on the Obama side of the ledger and they each have their own unique cultures.  The Washington Post embedded a couple reporters on the front lines with both campaigns for an up-close look at the ground troops in Ohio:

A day with Romney and Obama canvassers in this hotly contested area of northeastern Ohio provides a snapshot of what both campaigns cast as the most critical piece of their White House bids: the volunteer-driven, pavement-pounding grind known as the ground game. With millions of dollars being poured into TV advertising, social media and other high-tech strategies, both campaigns say they are more convinced than ever that face-to-face conversations are by far the most effective form of contact with voters, and those efforts are robust than Ohio and the other swing states. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests the importance of all that attention. While the survey found the race to be close nationally — with 49 percent of likely voters siding with Obama and 47 percent with Romney — the disparity is much wider in swing states, with 52 percent siding with Obama and 41 percent with Romney. Roughly a third of all voters in “tossup” states say they’ve heard from each side.

Team Obama

In the case of the Obama campaign, officials say they are mostly dusting off the 2008 playbook, turning into standard practice tactics considered revolutionary four year ago. They are rebuilding networks of “neighborhood leaders” who organize their Zip codes, a system bolstered by vast voter databases. “There’s really no need to mess with success,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. Their Ohio operation: nearly 120 bricks-and-mortar offices across the state with at least 600 paid staffers working with thousands of volunteers who have been phone-banking since late last year and door-knocking since April, according to Redfern. Their Mentor Avenue operation is a long table strewn with hand sanitizer, spare reading glasses and 20 cellphones for phone-banking. The walls are plastered with Obama posters and others outlining neighborhood team events and the organizing mantra “empower, include, win.”

Team Romney

Romney campaign officials say they are placing a much stronger emphasis on door-knocking than phone-calling this time, an effort driven by what they describe as an unprecedented quantity and quality of data. Rich Beeson, the campaign’s political director, said the ground operation, in turn, is heavily focused at the moment on “low-propensity” voters — those who are identified as solid Republicans but who don’t always vote. The goal of door-knockers is to encourage them to vote early — to mail in an absentee ballot or apply for one. “Nationwide, we’ve already knocked on 2 million more doors than we knocked on in 2008,” Beeson said. “We consider door knocks the purest form of voter contact. Ohio week in and week out leads in the metrics we lay out and nationwide.” The Ohio operation, with more than 40 offices deploying thousands of volunteers, hit 137,000 doors across the state last week alone, campaign officials said. The Mentor Avenue operation has 12 black phones set on four white folding tables, with two more phones being unpacked from cardboard boxes this morning. The walls are covered with uniform rows of “Romney-Believe” posters and others of state candidates. “In all our polling, public and private, we are matching them in terms of the number of people who say they’ve heard from both campaigns,” Beeson said. “That tells me that the quality of our data and voter contact program is just as powerful as their offices and staff.”

Trash talk

If the volunteers don’t trash-talk one another, their bosses do. Romney officials roll their eyes at the idea that the Obama team revolutionized grass-roots organizing. “Don’t forget, in 2004 we had the largest ground operation in American history,” Beeson said, referring to George W. Bush’s successful reelection bid. Obama campaign officials scoff at the notion that the GOP camp could possibly be matching them door for door. “I find it hard to believe that a party in disarray just a few months ago about who should be their leader is now knocking on 137,000 doors a week,” Redfern said.

Obama ground effort

Meanwhile, thousands of volunteers know the cold, hard truth: They, on average, have to knock on 10 doors to reach just one or two voters. [Canvassers] carried clipboards with maps and targeted addresses, the result of months of phone calls and personal outreach to identify the people to pitch: persuadable, lukewarm and strong Obama voters, a task that has been more difficult than if was four years ago.“I just think that the level of enthusiasm has mellowed just a bit,” said Gavin-Wagner, who housed out-of-state volunteers in 2008…After nearly two hours, they returned to the office to report their progress: 61 doors, 18 contacts, a typical weekend haul. The data would be processed by volunteers overseen by two paid staffers from New Jersey and Wisconsin.

Romney ground effort

The Romney campaign’s [canvasser] has been knocking on doors almost every day since August. He averaged about 75 a day, except on the afternoon he almost fainted with low blood sugar. And here he was again, arriving on Dearborn Drive, clipboard under his arm, Romney-Ryan brochures in hand. His job on this day was not to convince undecideds but to contact Republican-leaning voters and encourage them to mail in absentee ballots or vote early. “Maybe you’ll hit one out of five houses.” Even on tough days — and this was one — [the canvasser] said he remains optimistic. The Mentor Avenue office has been getting busier… [F]inal tally: 45 doors, five personal contacts.

Voter Registrations Drop 490,000 in Ohio

I blogged this yesterday, but the post got lost somewhere in cyberspace.  This was rightfully a much talked about story considering the importance of Ohio to both campaigns:

Voter registration in the Buckeye State is down by 490,000 people from four years ago. Of that reduction, 44 percent is in Cleveland and surrounding Cuyahoga County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one.

“I think what we’re seeing is a lot of spin and hype on the part of the Obama campaign to try to make it appear that they’re going to cruise to victory in Ohio,” Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman Rob Frost said. “It’s not just Cuyahoga County. Nearly 350,000 of those voters are the decrease in the rolls in the three largest counties, Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Franklin.” Frost points out that those three counties all contain urban centers, where the largest Democrat vote traditionally has been.

Ohio is not alone. An August study by the left-leaning think tank Third Way showed that the Democratic voter registration decline in eight key swing states outnumbered the Republican decline by a 10-to-one ratio. In Florida, Democratic registration is down 4.9 percent, in Iowa down 9.5 percent. And in New Hampshire, it’s down down 19.7 percent. The Third Way study, which was conducted in August, indicates the Democrats’ drop in registered voters coincides with a gain in independent voters.”There are about half a million more independents now than there were just for years ago,” Diggles said.

The Romney campaign has made over 3,000,000 voter contacts in Ohio and has been aggressive in voter registration efforts throughout the election cycle.  This has kept their registration numbers up while Democrats hemorrhage voters.

The party breakdown is difficult because Ohio does not register voters by party so the geography mentioned in the article is hugely important and the basis for much of the GOP confidence in these changes.

The Iowa Poll Takeaways — Des Moines Register

Many state’s have one reporter that stands out among all others reporting on local politics.  In Wisconsin there is Craig Gilbert, Nevada has Jon Ralston and Iowa has Jennifer Jacobs. Easily the very best articles on the state have been penned by her and below is her detailed look at the recent Iowa Poll published in the Des Moines Register showing Obama with a 4-point lead but plenty of opportunity for Romney:

The election is all about an economy that Iowa voters think President Barack Obama has done too little to fix. A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows Obama is ahead in Iowa 49 percent to 45 percent. But if Mitt Romney can convince voters that he truly knows how to doctor the nation’s ailing economy, the GOP presidential candidate can still put Iowa in his pocket, political analysts say. Half of Iowa adults disapprove of the job the Democratic president is doing on the economy, an issue that 59 percent of likely voters here rank as one of the most important, the poll found. Romney has built his campaign on the argument that his business knowledge, gained in building the private equity firm Bain Capital, better equips him than Obama to create jobs. Likely Iowa voters agree by a hefty 25 percentage points that the Republican nominee would better care for the needs of businesses. “The numbers are striking — that’s his opportunity that he’s not cashed in on,” said the Register’s pollster, J. Ann Selzer. “It’s just a huge opportunity.” But so far they’re not convinced Romney will do a better job of shoring up the economy. He trails slightly (47 percent to 46 percent) in voters’ perception of who would be the better economy fixer. The news from battleground Iowa, whose six electoral votes are a vital puzzle piece in the journey to 270, means there’s even more pressure on Romney to make a slam dunk case for his economic prowess during three presidential debates this fall. In the first debate, on Wednesday, three of six segments will focus on the economy.

Paul Ryan trumps Joe Biden

Another noteworthy finding: Although Iowa’s likely voters give Obama the nod at the top of the ticket, a strong majority believe Romney’s running mate, budget-and-deficit repairman Paul Ryan, is an asset. More likely voters think Vice President Joe Biden is a liability to the ticket than a lift.

Saturation campaigning and ads have voters attention

Thirty-seven days from Election Day, Iowa has few undecided voters left — just 2 percent. But 10 percent of likely voters say they could still change their minds. Of that group, more than half are independent voters.

Feeling better about Obama

As federal debt grows, gridlock confounds Congress, trouble spots heat up around the world and joblessness remains high, Iowans are feeling more optimistic. And for the first time in three years, Obama’s job approval in Iowa is above water. Seven months ago, Iowa was a trouble spot for Obama. More Iowa adults disapproved of the job he was doing as president (48 percent) than approved (46 percent). In hypothetical head-to-head matchups in mid-February, Obama trailed a trio of GOP candidates, including Romney, in the wake of intensive Republican messaging throughout the caucuses. Obama has mounted a vigorous counterattack: 10 days of campaigning in Iowa this year, 67 campaign offices opened, a successful Democratic convention and more than $13 million in TV ads here. The president’s job approval is nowhere close to his Iowa high of 68 percent shortly after he took office. But he has crossed a symbolic point crucial for re-election: More Iowans think he’s doing a good job as president (51 percent) than a bad job (47 percent).

Country on the wrong track, but …

Most Iowans, 54 percent, continue to believe the nation is on the wrong track, the poll found. But those who think the country is going in the right direction have increased by 10 percentage points since February. “When 10 percent more people think the country is headed in the right direction, that’s 10 percent less who feel the need for a change,” Castellanos said. It’s a big uptick, from 30 percent to 40 percent, even though the economy has remained sluggish. The government released revised growth statistics last week, downgrading second quarter growth from 1.7 percent to 1.3 percent. Strategists said there’s still wiggle room for attitudes about the economy to change. Two monthly jobs reports remain before Election Day and four debates — three presidential and one vice presidential. The fact that Iowans’ optimism has shifted so much since February signals how much voters can be moved, strategists said.

Voter perceptions

  • Obama leads Romney by 6 or more percentage points in voters’ perceptions of his ability to determine the future of Medicare, health care and tax policy, and to handle relations with other countries as well as military engagement in Afghanistan and tension in the Middle East.
  • Among all Iowans, 50 percent approve of Obama’s work on relations with other countries, but he has ticked down a couple of points since February, possibly tied to unrest in Libya or his positions on Israeli-Palestinian peace.
  • Meanwhile, he’s upside down on his job approval on health care and the economy. Obamacare is not helping him, but perceptions have improved since February.
  • So have opinions about his handling of the economy, up 7 percentage points since February, to 45 percent. Those gains helped push him to positive territory in overall job approval.
  • Romney’s big issue advantage: He has opened an 11-point lead in perceptions of his ability to reduce the federal deficit, one of the most important issues to 27 percent of likely voters, ranking third behind health care (31 percent). The economy leads the list by far (59 percent).
  • But among independent voters, Romney has a 5-point lead on the economy, and a 12-point lead on the deficit. If he can continue to drive that message, there’s opportunity to shake loose persuadable independents, strategists said.

Get out the vote

The Obama campaign is heavily focused on early voting, which began here last week. Its goal is to build a margin before Election Day, when Republicans tend to turn out more heavily than Democrats, strategists said.

The Battle for Nevada — The Buffalo News

Interesting story on the state of affairs in Nevada from The Buffalo News. They take and in-depth look at the lay of the land in this Battleground with its cross-currents of issues and needs through the eyes of some Buffalo ex-pats in the Silver State:

CoreLogic, a company that tracks real estate data, says 64.7 percent of Las Vegas-area homeowners were “under water” early this year – meaning the value of their homes plunged so far that they owe more on the mortgage than the place is worth. Welcome to Nevada, land of the endless Great Recession, where the 12.1 percent unemployment rate leads the nation and where President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are fighting fiercely for six electoral votes and the loyalty of voters like John McGinty. The choice, undecided voters and some experts said, pits a Democratic president who has tried and failed to end an economic nightmare against a Republican who might just make things better – or worse. The real estate collapse that happened here and around the nation four years ago is not Obama’s fault, nor Romney’s. It’s the fault of a nation that turned its real estate market into Las Vegas – and left 60 percent of the homeowners in Nevada, and more than a third of those in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Michigan, under water in the process. All the boom towns went on the same real estate roller coaster ride. As the government encouraged home ownership, banks took to bundling and selling off their mortgages in packages and relaxed lending standards along the way.

Las Vegas

The result was evident in Las Vegas by the mid-2000s. Fueled by such speculation, the median home value in Las Vegas shot up from $205,200 in January 2004 to a peak of $315,000 in June of 2006. But then came the financial crisis. Confidence fell, lending standards tightened, investors started bailing on their properties – and the median home price here plummeted to a low of $118,000 this January. It’s bounced back to $138,000 since then, but signs of the collapse can still be seen everywhere. Two would-be casinos on the Strip have stood unfinished for years. Started and abandoned developments dot the suburban landscape.

Housing bust reality

And at Johnny Mac’s, John McGinty finds himself handing out the occasional free lunch and personal loan to loyal customers in need. “I do what I can to help,” McGinty said. He does this while coping with a downturn in business and mortgage payments on a three-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot home he bought for $495,000 in the mid-2000s that, he reckons, is worth about $210,000 today. Countless Las Vegas homeowners, most of them speculators, have found themselves in McGinty’s situation and walked away, intentionally defaulting on their mortgages. Economic experts say the real estate crash wrecked consumer confidence and crushed the job market, leading to an unemployment rate that’s three full percentage points higher than Buffalo’s.

Frequent visitors, Different ideas

Obama and Romney have had plenty of time for Nevada. The president will arrive here today for three days of debate preparation; it’s his ninth visit of the campaign. Romney, meanwhile, has been here six times. Yet what they’re offering voters could not be more different.

The Obama Plan for Nevada

Obama sticks by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which is aimed at curbing the excesses that caused the financial crisis. In addition, he touts elements of his 2009 stimulus bill that aimed to make it easier for troubled homeowners to refinance, or even to get lenders to agree to reduce the amount of principal on troubled loans, and criticizes Congress for not expanding the refinancing program as he suggested. The trouble is, banks seem to be reluctant to take part in the original Obama refinancing and principal-reduction programs, said Kelley, head of the Realtors group. Besides, many troubled homeowners have second mortgages – and the holders of those loans are not cooperating.

The Romney Plan for Nevada

Romney wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank law, saying it’s so burdensome that lenders are now reluctant to make home loans. He also offers varying free-market proposals for addressing the Nevada housing crisis. “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process,” he told the Las Vegas Review Journal last October. “Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” And on a Sept. 21 trip to Sin City, the GOP nominee went a step further. “The federal government has about 200,000 foreclosed homes they are holding onto,” Romney said. “I’ll make sure we get them sold, so every home is occupied, we fix our neighborhoods,” The trouble with Romney’s comments is twofold, Las Vegas-area economic experts and political pundits said. First off, letting foreclosures move forward, or putting 200,000 more homes on the market all at once, very well could depress housing values further.
On the political side, Romney’s let-them-eat-cake comments on foreclosures reinforced the Democratic caricature of him as an out-of-touch plutocrat. “It’s a very bad sound byte for him,” said Jon Ralston, a Buffalo native and longtime Las Vegas political reporter who now publishes RalstonFlash.com, a political newsletter.

Ground game is key

Ralston finds it “astonishing” that Obama appears to have an edge in a state with a 12.1 percent unemployment rate, but that appears to be the case. The latest Real Clear Politics average of polls in the Silver State finds Obama 3.8 points ahead, and political pundits say there are plenty of explanations for that edge. “The state Republican party is very much a broken party,” said David Damore, a UNLV political scientist. Party control swung to a faction loyal to Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, in May. The result: the Romney campaign has had to build a get-out-the-vote effort from scratch to compete with a Democratic effort honed in Obama’s 2008 victory here and the re-election of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid two years later. “The Democrats have a very effective ground game,” said former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, a Democrat who nonetheless said the race remains “too close for any comfort.”

Demographics

Obama is getting a boost, too, from the state’s Hispanics, who now account for more than a quarter of the state population. Political pros here say heated GOP rhetoric on the immigration issue has helped propel the president to a 43-point lead among Hispanics in a Public Policy Polling survey last month. “A lot of (Hispanics) don’t understand how powerful the vote is,” said Arianni Valencia, 20, a Romney volunteer who specializes in reaching out to the Hispanic community. “They’re not even sure what it is to be a Republican or a Democrat. But they see the other side reaching out to them, and we’re trying to catch up.”

The deciding factor

Sherman Conley, 71, seemed to sum up the thoughts of many of the dozens of Nevada voters interviewed last week by The Buffalo News. “It’s a critical election,” said Conley, a Buffalo native, “and I’ve got to figure out who will do me the least amount of harm.”

A Sober Look at Ohio

Sorry to go all “Debbie Downer” with this post, but I think this is a good piece on the difficulties for Romney in Ohio.

In nearly every mention of Ohio, I refer to it as a tough nut or tough terrain for Romney.  It’s not without reason.  This was a state 12-months ago the Obama campaign privately thought was out of reach for them.  But rather than conceding the point, they redoubled their efforts and changed the narrative.  Now it is Romney looking at at increasingly difficult numbers in Ohio (even with appropriately balanced polling) and it is his campaign that needs to change the narrative.  They are already redoubling their efforts evidenced by the current three-day immersion in the state but that must only be the beginning.  Peter Hamby of CNN takes a sober look at what troubles the Romney campaign in a very fair assessment of where things stand:

Interviews with some two dozen Republican strategists and elected officials across Ohio revealed an array of explanations — and no easy answers — for Romney’s failure to catch on there. Some pointed to the Obama campaign’s aggressive effort to hang Romney’s opposition to the federal bailout of Chrysler and General Motors around his neck. Others said a hangover remains from the divisive 2011 battle over collective bargaining rights that hurt the GOP’s standing with working class voters. A handful of GOP strategists blamed Romney’s standing on campaign staffers who aren’t Ohio natives. One longtime Republican strategist griped about the “arrogant top-down” approach of the Romney team and said they have done a poor job listening to the advice of savvy Ohio strategists — a charge rebuffed by Romney aides who point out that field staffers from the Ohio offices of Sen. Rob Portman and House Speaker John Boehner have come on board. Still others cited Romney’s lackluster political skills and said his stiff CEO demeanor as a turnoff for Ohioans, with one Republican officeholder saying that former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wasn’t far off when he said recently that Romney is being caricatured as “a plutocrat married to a known equestrian.”

A man without a message

The main criticism that emerged, though, is that Romney is man without a message. “We are still at a point where I think it’s still a winnable race for Romney,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Generally when you talk people, there is a feeling that Obama hasn’t done that great a job. But Romney hasn’t made the sale. He still can. But he hasn’t made the sale yet.” Another statewide Republican officeholder who — like others interviewed for this article — did not want to be identified criticizing the Republican ticket, offered a blunter assessment. Both Romney and Obama, this official argued, have provided nothing but “narrow arguments” and “fantasy land” policy prescriptions for the country. “Why is Mitt Romney running for president and what will his presidency be about?” the official asked. “I don’t think most Republicans in Ohio can answer that question. He has not made a compelling case for his candidacy. Don’t make your campaign about marginal tax rates. Make it about your children and your grandchildren and the future of this country.”

Fallout over bailout

Obama forces have persistently reminded voters about the auto bailout — on television and in small-scale earned media events around the state — and Republicans faulted Romney for failing to develop a succinct response to the criticism in a state where one out of every eight jobs is tied to the auto sector. Romney wrote a New York Times op-ed in 2008 titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” and argued for a managed bankruptcy for the industry, without the use of government funds. In May, he took credit for proposing the bankruptcy idea. In August, he tapped a running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who voted in favor of bailout. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has aired multiple TV ads on the issue and synced their pro-bailout message with down-ballot Democratic candidates such as Sen. Sherrod Brown. According to The Washington Post poll, 64% of Ohio registered voters view the federal loans to GM and Chrysler as “mostly good” for the state’s economy. Only 29% said the bailout was “mostly bad.” Putting a finer point on the matter, one longtime Ohio GOP strategist called Obama’s advantage on the auto bailout “a kick in the balls” for the Romney campaign.

Ground operation a bright spot for Romney

One aspect of the Romney operation that earned praise from Republicans is the campaign’s ground game, which has made more than 3 million volunteer voter contacts so far this year and knocked on 28 times as many doors in Ohio as John McCain’s campaign did in 2008. “It’s one of the better operations in the country, as it always is,” Romney’s political director Rich Beeson told CNN. “Ohio has always led the way and it is again this cycle.” The so-called “victory effort” — a joint venture of the Romney campaign, Republican National Committee and Ohio Republican Party — has 40 offices statewide. The humming ground effort, combined with Ohio’s traditional GOP lean and what’s expected to be a more animated conservative base than in 2008, has Republicans confident that the final margin on Election Day will be much closer than the 5, 6 or 7-point Obama lead seen in recent public polls. “Nobody will win Ohio by 5,” said Mike Weaver, a Republican consultant with more than two decades of campaign experience in the state. “Anybody who tells you that doesn’t know Ohio. This state is too close. It’s too divided. It will not be Obama by 5 or Romney by 5.”

Mixed message from Kasich irks GOP

Republican Gov. John Kasich’s relentless boosterism for the uptick in Ohio job creation runs counter to the national Republican message that Obama’s policies have kept the economy from bouncing back. The statewide unemployment rate has fallen to 7.2%, roughly a point below the national average. In bellwether central Ohio, home to the capital city of Columbus and its thriving suburbs, the jobless rate fell to 5.9% in August. Kasich is not shy about talking up Ohio’s job growth, even if it muddles the Romney campaign’s arguments about the state of the national economy. At a recent campaign event in conservative Owensville, a fiery Kasich boasted that “Ohio is rocking!” — moments before turning the microphone over to Paul Ryan, who proceeded to issue dire warnings about Obama’s economic policies. The mixed messaging has rankled Republicans in the Romney and Kasich camps. Both sides have done their best to keep the tensions under wraps, but they occasionally spill over into public view…One Washington-based GOP operative involved in the campaign and closely watching Ohio accused Kasich of not doing enough to help Romney win the state. “No single swing state Republican has been less willing to criticize President Obama at important junctures in this campaign than John Kasich,” the Republican told CNN. “Anyone who doesn’t want an Obama second term should be furious at him.”