Tag Archives: ground game

Voter Registration: GOP Ground Game by the Numbers

To set the stage for the below voter contact numbers, according to Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign operative Adrian Gray: “[the Romney-Ryan campaign has made] 26 million volunteer contacts (per @rick_wiley memo). In 2004, BC’04 had made 7,451,466 by now”

A few days ago I blogged the incredible voter contacts Romney Victory Offices were achieving across the battleground: 1,000,000 contacts in Nevada and Colorado, 1,000,000 contacts in Iowa, 3,000,000 contacts in Ohio and 6,000,000 contacts in Florida. But that is only the first step in re-branding the GOP and turning out the vote. The next step is registering these people to offset the incredible advantage Barack Obama enjoyed on election day in 2008. You don’t have to win every one of these battles but Republicans definitely need to shrink Democrat’s lead.  Jim Geraghty at National Review’s Campaign Spot has a rundown on the latest voter registration figures across a great many Battlegrounds and the results are impressive:

  • Iowa — Today 20,000 more registered Republicans in Iowa than registered Democrats. In January 2009, Iowa Democrats enjoyed a 110,000 voter registration advantage. Net gain for the GOP 140,000 votes
  • Florida — This is a state with a large “Unaffiliated” segment.  However, in a state with 11.5 million registered voters, today Democrats have a 454,752-voter advantage, down from 694,147-voter advantage in 2008. Net gain for the GOP 240,000 votes
  • Nevada — In a state with 1.4 million registered voters, Democrats have an advantage of 47,000, down from 100,000 in 2008. Net gain for the GOP 53,000 votes
  • Pennsylvania — Democrats have a 1,086,006-vote advantage.  Bad right?  Many of those vote straight like Republican and the advantage is down -150,000 since 2008 (25% of Obama’s entire winning margin). Net gain for the GOP 150,000 votes
  • Colorado — GOP advantage today is 98,000, up from 9,000 in 2008. Net gain for the GOP 91,000 votes

Outer Burroughs:

  • New Mexico — Democrat advantage today of 196,758 voters, down 20,000 from 2008.
  • North Carolina — Today: Democrat advantage of 769,926 voters, down 95,000 from 2008. Like Pennsylvania, many of these Democrats are straight-line Republican voters.

Note: Virginia does not register by party affiliation

President Obama Has a Wisconsin Problem

With the President lowering himself to actually campaign in Wisconsin for his own job, unlike when he wouldn’t help Democrats in the June recall, Team Romney and the RNC are ready to welcome him to the Badger State with open arms:

When President Obama arrives in Milwaukee today, it will be his first visit to the Badger State in 220 days. In 2008, he carried Wisconsin by 14 points – no surprise, since Democrats have won Wisconsin in every presidential election since 1984. President Obama has yet to give an explanation for this dramatic decrease in support. But the fact is that voters are disappointed that he has not lived up to the promises he made four years ago. Consider what has happened in Wisconsin since he was last here in February:

  1. More than 23 million Americans are still struggling for work – and the nation experienced its 43rd straight month of unemployment above 8%.
  2.  The U.S. Census Bureau released new data, which showed incomes in decline and poverty at record levels.
  3. Food-stamp enrollment climbed to a record 46.7 million.
  4. The national debt surpassed $16 trillion – driving every Wisconsinite’s share of the debt to over $51,000.
  5. The federal government officially reported its fourth straight trillion-dollar deficit, all under President Obama.

President Obama’s failure to turn around the economy and get America working again is the reason Wisconsin voters are looking for a different path. It is one reason Republicans in the state have made significant gains in recent years. For example, since 2008:

  1. Scott Walker was elected Governor by nearly 6 percent.
  2. Ron Johnson defeated three-term incumbent Senator Russ Feingold by nearly 5 percent.
  3. Republicans gained control of the State Assembly.
  4. Republicans won two congressional seats previously held by Democrats.

Since President Obama’s last visit, volunteers have made millions of voter contacts that helped Scott Walker become the first governor in history to beat back a recall effort. President Obama was notably absent during the race, deciding not to appear with the Democratic candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Our grassroots campaign was so effective that Scott Walker went on to defeat his 2010 opponent by a wider margin than when he was first elected.

Mitt Romney has been dedicated to winning Wisconsin since day one. He has already made two post-primary campaign visits to the state to discuss his five-point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class, which will create 240,000 jobs in Wisconsin.  Since Paul Ryan joined the ticket, he has been on the stump in the Badger State three times. Just this week, Ann Romney visited Wisconsin to rally supporters.

Obama Forced to Campaign Today in a State He Won by 14 Points in 2008

And the pollsters are modelling that he will have a larger turnout advantage in 2012 than he did in 2008… Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight

It’s been 220 days since President Obama last visited Wisconsin. He avoided involvement in the state’s high-stakes gubernatorial recall earlier this year, has not campaigned for re-election here, and has spent little cash on TV ads, all largely because he hasn’t had to. Until now. Wisconsin was supposed to be a reliable foothold for Obama, who won it by 14-points over Sen. John McCain in 2008. Democratic candidates for president have carried the state in every election since 1984. Now it’s a hotly contested battleground.

Ground Game

The Romney campaign says the fight of Walker continues to energize state conservatives, yielding the most robust grassroots operation in Wisconsin in a generation. Millions of voter contacts made during the recall campaign have been rolled over to the general election, officials said. Gov. Romney has held 17 events in Wisconsin since Obama’s most recent visit in February, an official stop in Milwaukee to promote his manufacturing agenda.  He has been in state nine days, according to his campaign, to Obama’s one.

Nervous Team Obama

The Obama campaign began running TV ads in the state for the first time this campaign 10 days ago and have stepped up appearances by Obama surrogates across the state.  Vice President Joe Biden’s two visits this year – to Eau Claire and Green Bay — have come in the past three weeks alone.  First Lady Michelle Obama held her single Wisconsin rally of the campaign in Milwaukee in late August and later met with victims of the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek.  Former President Bill Clinton appeared in Wisconsin in June.

Field Offices (see caveats below)

Democrats have also assembled an aggressive grassroots organizing operation for voter registration and turnout that Obama aides regularly cite as one of their greatest assets in Wisconsin ahead of Election Day.  The Obama campaign has 54 field offices in Wisconsin compared to Romney’s 25 so-called “Victory Centers” across the state.

A couple quick points about field offices.  The field offices disparity is bunk.  Many of those are virtual filed offices out of people’s homes — not actual office space.  Second, those Romney Victory Offices?  They are the exact Scott Walker Victory offices he used for his big recall win.  The day after the election each Walker office immediately flipped to Romney Victory offices.  I kinda like Scott Walker’s ground game prowess…and so do the Democrats.

Florida Ground Game Crossing 6,000,000 Voter Contacts…Over 17x More than 2008

Anyone doubting the seriousness of the extensive Super Saturday’s or the entire GOP team’s investment in the ground game just needs to look at these staggering figures in Florida:

The former Massachusetts governor, who accepted his party’s nomination three weeks ago in nearby Tampa, has made a concentrated effort to reach out to Hispanic voters here in recent days, touting his opposition to the Castro government in Cuba and harping about the Hispanic jobless rate hovering at more than 10 percent for 50 straight months. And in an appeal to the state’s older voters, he said Mr. Obama’s health care law, muscled through Congress in 2010, siphons $716 billion out of Medicare, the federal health care program for people age 65 or older.It’s all part of the campaign’s broader effort to appeal to voters in Florida, a key swing state that has picked the eventual White House winner in the past four presidential elections.

“It’s always an important state when you look at the electoral map, so we are going to work very hard to compete and win here,” said Kevin Madden, a top Romney adviser. “That’s reflected in our organizational effort. This week, we will make our six-millionth volunteer-voter contact and we have opened ‘victory offices’ with the RNC all over the state, over 40 of them. That shows you the level of attention we’re paying to the state.”

From a report last week when Romney crossed 5.5 million contacts that contrasts greatly with the 2008 effort:

[D]on’t underestimate how much stronger the GOP/Mitt Romney ground game is this year compared to four years ago. Last weekend featured another “Super Saturday” statewide voter outreach effort. The Romney campaign has made more than 5.5 million voter contacts in Florida this year, including 16 times more phone calls than in 2008 and 77 times more door knocks than in 1998. [Ed. — I’m guessing they meant 2008 and not 1998 since that wasn’t even a Presidential election year]

And if 5.5 million is 16x more calls, then 6 million is more than 17x more calls with just over 6 weeks left to go!

Ohio Ground Game Passes 3,000,000 Voter Contacts

I was curious what the numbers would be like in the more populous states where many more funds are being spent and now we have Ohio‘s tally:

Kathy Schwartz of Galloway on Thursday got a surprise call from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney congratulating her on making the three millionth Ohio voter contact on his behalf. Schwartz, who volunteers at Romney’s Grove City campaign center, stood in a parking lot with other volunteers and put Romney’s voice on speaker phone for all to hear.

Thanking her repeatedly, Romney said, “Ohio is probably going to be a place that decides the next president.” In a statement, Schwartz said she was “touched at how humbled he seemed by the incredible amount of work being done here in Ohio on behalf of his vision for the country.”. She continued: “We just talked a little bit about what we’ve been doing here in Ohio and we joked around about it a little since I clearly did not call all three million myself.”

The campaign released a clip of the phone conversation.

Iowa Ground Game Joins the 1,000,000 Contact Club

Earlier we blogged the impressive ground performance of the Colorado and Nevada Victory Teams crossing the 1,000,000 voter contact thresholds. Now we get work Iowa joined the ranks.

Let’s put this in perspective for a state like Iowa:

  • In 2008, a total of 1,511,319 votes were cast for the two major party candidates
  • In 2004, a total of 1,493,855 votes were cast for the two major party candidates
  • This week in 2004, Bush-Cheney ’04 made 839,706 volunteer calls and 64,776 volunteer door knocks in 14 target states. That’s an average of 60k calls per state.

I’m sure there were plenty of duplicates but it is still hugely impressive that in mid-September the GOP has contacted 55-65% of potential voters and there is still 6.5 weeks left in the campaign. The drumbeat of inevitability for Obama’s re-election never mentions the incredible improvement in every phase of the ground game by the GOP Victory campaigns across the country.  It will make a meaningful difference on election day and will likely be THE difference in many close wins for Romney. Here is the send-up of Iowa GOP crossing the 1,000,000 voter contact threshold:

The Romney-Ryan campaign turned the tables on one of its volunteers Friday afternoon. Karen Zmoos of Cedar Rapids was making calls from the Republican Victory headquarters when her cellphone started ringing. On the other end of the line was former New Hampshire governor and Romney campaign surrogate John Sununu. He was calling to congratulate Zmoos – and the entire Cedar Rapids Victory office – for its efforts. The millionth Iowa voter contact was a phone call from the Cedar Rapids office earlier this week.

“I’m from New Hampshire where we really, really believe in the blocking and tackling of campaigning,” Sununu said. “I can’t tell you how significant that is to getting Mitt Romney elected.” Zmoos has a pretty good idea of the importance of her efforts. She’s been making calls for Romney since 2008. “This is what I can do,” Zmoos said after getting off the phone. She has no idea how many calls she’s made and doors she’s knocked on, but said it’s a team effort.

The original plan to celebrate the millionth voter contact was for vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to call Zmoos, but apparently called her home number, a campaign staffer said. “I’ll have a nice message from Paul Ryan when I get home,” said Zmoos.

According to the Republican National Committee’s Victory campaign, Iowa Republicans already have contacted more voters this year than they did in the entire 2008 campaign. And there are six weeks until Election Day. “Time for another million calls,” Sununu said. “We’re on it,” Zmoos said.

Voter Contact Exceeds 1 Million Mark: Nevada and Colorado

Something important to note about the GOP ground game post just below, the Washington Post only talked about the large impact outside groups are having in assisting Republicans.  But the RNC under Reince Priebus and previously Michael Steele not only aggressively sought out voter registrations months ago but also implemented Super Saturdays nationwide to knock on doors, register voters and call on behalf of Romany and Republicans.  These were monthly dry runs for what is always a chaotic turn-out-the vote effort on election day.  Well, the results across the Battlegrounds have been staggering versus the 2008 campaign.  Buried at the bottom of this ABC report about bolstering Colorado and Nevada efforts (we blogged the Nevada boost 2 days ago) are incredible metrics showing a dramatically more robust effort in 2012:

With polls showing Mitt Romney locked in tight races with President Obama in Colorado and Nevada, the Republican National Committee — in conjunction with the Romney campaign — is beefing up its operation in the two western battlegrounds. GOP officials tell ABC News that the RNC is “adding additional staff” in both states — some of whom are being re-assigned from their posts in New Mexico (though the officials noted they “are maintaining offices and staff” there.) … GOP sources tell ABC they have already “passed the 1 million voter contact mark” in both states.

Nevada

In Nevada, Republicans say they have made “4 times more phone calls and 12 times more door knocks than this time in 2008″…

Colorado

… and in Colorado: “4 times more phone calls and 6 times more door knocks than this time” four years ago.

Unemployment

Other data points the Republicans cite: A 12 percent unemployment rate in Nevada and an 8.3 percent unemployment rate in Colorado where some 224,000 residents are out of work.

Republican Ground Game to Make the Difference in November

I make fun of the absurdity of polls showing Obama outperforming his 2008 turnout advantage for three main reasons:

  1. First. it is based on sensationalistic hype surrounding an allegedly never-before-seen micro-targeting that will revolutionize turnout. I don’t buy sensationalistic marketing claims in any aspect of my life and especially when it comes from a guy who claimed he could cool the planet and push back the tides when he was running last time.
  2. Second, the enthusiasm among Obama’s “coalition of the ascendent”[the predicate for Democrat talk of dominance for decades to come] no where near matches 2008 levels, yet polling models assume even higher rates of these minority groups will turn out this year despite far lower enthusiasm.
  3. Third, the GOP ground game is vastly superior to its 2008 half-hearted effort. We’ve blogged dramatic shifts in voter registration in Iowa, a net change away from Democrats to Independents of nearly 1,000,000 registrations among Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and North Carolina since the 2008, and serious ugliness for Democrats in Ohio yet our friendly unbiased pollsters see huge Democrat turnout advantages everywhere they look.

Now the Washington Post is picking up on this third point with a write-up on GOP successes on the ground this Fall that could add as much as 3% to Romney’s total:

Organizers from both parties report growing evidence that new voter-outreach programs funded by conservative groups could give GOP nominee Mitt Romney an edge if the race is close. In the key battleground states, Obama’s celebrated network of organizing experts and neighborhood captains is being challenged by a conservative coalition that includes the National Rifle Association, the billionaire-backed Americans for Prosperity and a newly muscular College Republicans organization with a $16 million budget The conservative groups “are fully funded and ready for hand-to-hand combat,” said Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic organizer.

  • Florida — Republican legislation effectively dampened pro-Democratic voter registration efforts during critical months in 2011 and 2012, resulting in registration gains for Republicans in the crucial Tampa Bay area since the 2008 election.
  • Ohio — the evangelical group behind a successful anti-same-sex-marriage amendment that helped mobilize conservative voters in 2004 says it has a network of 10,000 churches and a database of millions of rural voters who will be targeted with in-person visits and voter guides.
  • Wisconsin — conservatives have built a house-by-house turnout machine already tested in the successful campaign to fight a union-backed recall of GOP Gov. Scott Walker in June.

Experts say that if Obama’s lead in key states extends beyond a few percentage points, even the most effective field operation on the right may not be enough to prevent a Romney loss. But, they say, the operation can add two to three points to the Republican’s total and, in a close contest, that could be a significant difference…”It’s a much more robust field operation than the 2008 McCain campaign had, that’s clear,” said Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager.

Wisconsin

One of the major players on the right is Americans for Prosperity, a group co-founded by conservative billionaire David Koch. The group plans to spend $125 million on the 2012 campaign, half of it devoted to field organizing in political battlegrounds. AFP has 116 staff members on the ground targeting 9 million voters the group has found to be “up in the air” about how to assess Obama’s economic record, said its president, Tim Phillips. The group has honed many of its techniques in Wisconsin, where it spent millions on the effort to keep Walker in office. The group there is deploying a new smartphone application, Prosperity Knocks, to guide canvassers to the right doors. Of the group’s 120,000 members in Wisconsin, it has 4,000 super activists, dubbed “Prosperity Champions,” who have participated in multiple actions, the group says. “This is a totally new ballgame,” said Luke Hilgemann, the Wisconsin director for AFP, who oversees 12 full-time staff members and thousands of volunteers in his state. “We’re matching the left and exceeding them in lots of things that we’re doing.” Wisconsin Family Action, another social conservative organization in the state, is sending voter guides and DVDs to its network of 3,000 churches, said Julaine Appling, the group’s president. “Here in Wisconsin, we’ve become pretty well-schooled in ground games,” she said.

Ohio

Activists report similarly honed skills in Ohio. Phil Burress, chairman of the group Citizens for Community Values Action and the leader of the marriage campaign in 2004, said he has been operating half a dozen phone-bank centers since May. He said he has a database of 8.4 million Ohioans and plans to distribute 2 million voter guides to 10,000 churches, with a focus on rural parts of the state that he said posted low turnout in 2008. Burress said many of his activists are motivated by Obama’s recent announcement supporting same-sex marriage. “It’s like 2004 all over again,” he said.

College Republicans and the NRA

In Ohio and other states, an emerging force in conservative voter outreach is the College Republican National Committee, which has expanded this year to 63 paid, full-time field staff members and has formed a joint super PAC with American Crossroads, the group founded in part by Karl Rove, who was an adviser to President George W. Bush, to target young voters. Gun enthusiasts will be hearing with greater intensity this year from the NRA, which spent $30 million in 2008 and plans to focus less this year on television advertising and more on voter recruiting. The group has hired 25 campaign field directors and posted them in battleground states, while it has begun churning out hundreds of thousands of pieces of targeted literature, said Chris Cox, the group’s chief political strategist. Cox said advancements in technology have improved the organization’s voter-targeting abilities “from a traditional shotgun blast into more of a rifle shot.”

Florida

In Florida, the Atlas Project has identified Democratic vulnerability in critical areas of the state. For example, the organization found that Democratic Party registration in the counties in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area has dropped by about 64,000 since the 2008 election, while Republican registration has increased by more than 50,000. Obama campaign officials point out that registration in Florida and many other states will continue for several more weeks and that Democrats are on track to make big gains. For the past two months, they said, the number of registered Democrats has increased more than the number of registered Republicans in Florida and other key states with party registration. Even in 2008, a large share of the Democratic registration gains did not occur until the final push.

Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida who has studied the effects of voter laws, said his data show that Florida’s Republican-backed legislation dampened registration in 2011 and early 2012, as some liberal groups stopped signing up voters. But since the courts rejected the law in May, Smith said, “I think we are seeing an effective effort to catch up.” Democrats on the ground remain worried. “There’s no question the legislature and the governor made it more of a challenge” to register Democrats this year, said Dan Gelber, a former legislator from Miami Beach who has been assisting the Obama team with voter registration. “I would not counsel overconfidence in Florida, notwithstanding the daily missteps of the Romney campaign.”

Romney Nevada Campaign Getting a Boost

The state GOP party in Nevada is one of the worst in the country.  It was fully taken over by Ron Paul zealots who mostly won’t support Mitt Romney. Seeing this coming far in advance the RNC helped form “Team Nevada” which is essentially the fully funded state party since all the funds were yanked from the formal state party.  Despite these hic-cups the state remains a strong possibility for GOP pickup despite Team Obama bravado to the contrary. Now they are getting a boost of fire-power from now through the election day to bring this one home:

The Republican National Committee is deploying two regional directors to Nevada through the Nov. 6 election to boost GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign in the battleground state and increase his chances of defeating President Barack Obama, a top Republican official said Tuesday. Rick Wiley, the political director of the RNC, said Republicans just surpassed making 1 million voter contacts in Nevada and added 100,000 more Romney supporters with the election seven weeks away and both campaigns kicking into higher gear with frequent visits from Obama and Romney. Wiley said the 1 million voter mark is five times the number of voters Republicans had contacted at this point in the Nevada campaign in 2008 and in 2004, when President George W. Bush won re-election.

Democrats registered voter advantage diminished

Obama won in 2008, easily beating U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., thanks to a huge voter registration drive that added 100,000 Democrats to the rolls in Nevada. The Democrats have a 60,000 registered voter edge over Republicans now, and it’s growing by the day along with new nonpartisan voters. Wiley dismissed the Democrats’ voter registration advantage, saying it’s more important for Republicans to turn out longtime GOP voters and loyal Romney supporters who are more likely to cast ballots Nov. 6. He said the campaign is focusing on swaying nonpartisan voters, who could make the difference.

Campaign priority

The launch of the more aggressive GOP effort in Nevada comes as Romney is scheduled to campaign in Las Vegas on Friday, a month before early voting starts Oct. 20 in the state. The visit will be Romney’s sixth campaign stop in Nevada since April, when he became the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, and his 16th stop in the state since February 2011, a GOP official said. Obama, too, has focused on Nevada more than any other battleground state, visiting 14 times since he became president in 2009 – more than any White House occupant – and seven times this year. Vice President Joe Biden has visited Nevada several times this year as well. And GOP vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, has campaigned twice in the Silver State so far.

The bad economy albatross

Nevada also is a key test of whether Obama’s plea to give him four more years to fix the economy will work because the state has been hit harder than any other with record high unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure rates. On Friday, the day Romney plans to campaign in Las Vegas, new Nevada unemployment figures are scheduled to be released, giving him an opportunity to highlight the issue. Last month, the jobless rate rose to 12 percent – 12.9 percent in Clark County – or several points higher than the national average.

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Inside the Rebel Alliance Base — Must Read

While Chicago continues to construct it’s new and improved Death Star (the super duper secret Project Narwhal to micro-target the universe), Guy Benson at Townhall.com sat down with Team Romney and its rag-tag band of rebels tucked away in Boston:

Behind the façade of a nondescript building in Beantown’s north end, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign headquarters is buzzing with activity…The campaign is accelerating into a full sprint as the 2012 presidential race enters its final leg. Fewer than 50 days remain. More than 400 Romney staffers are manning Boston battle stations during this electoral home stretch, more than double the manpower the campaign boasted as the primary season petered out in the spring. The third floor is home to the campaign’s brain trust, where high-ranking aides are hunkering down for seven weeks that will paradoxically feel interminable, yet will be over in a flash…In an exclusive discussion with Townhall, a cluster of top Romney campaign rainmakers offer frank assessments of the current state of play and attempt to address those very questions.

Asked about rumors that Ohio is in danger of falling off the map for Romney, he shakes his head. “I’m going to push back really hard on that Ohio stuff,” he says. “There is absolutely nothing we’ve seen that has showed Ohio is remotely out of reach.” The campaign’s polling guru, Neil Newhouse, isn’t as delicate. “I’ve seen every single poll out of Ohio. My firm is also [polling] the Senate race out there. It’s baloney. I’d use stronger language if [Townhall] weren’t a family publication.”

Karl Rove’s 3-2-1 Model — although not Romney’s strategy, the top campaign brass entertain that template to discuss the Battlegrounds:

Under [Rove’s calculus] Romney would have to flip six states from blue to red to win the presidency. Of the first three – Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia – the campaign is most concerned with the Old Dominion State. “Virginia is very competitive,” Newhouse says, “I’m not going to make any news there.”

Bullish on Florida

“I feel pretty bullish on Florida,” Beeson says. “Obama’s issue metrics are really weak there, on unemployment and on foreclosures.” He also name-checks two key surrogates who will help limit Obama’s advantage among Hispanic voters in the Sunshine State: Senator Marco Rubio, “who is extremely effective all around the state, and especially down in Miami Dade” county, and Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno, who is an asset with the large Puerto Rican population along central Florida’s I-4 corridor. “Florida was a turnaround state for us in the primaries because of our turnout operation,” Newhouse recalls. “We feel really good about our ground operation in Florida.”

Ohio knife fight

Ohio is a separate beast. Both Beeson and Newhouse insist that people writing Romney off in the Buckeye State are far off base, but concede that there’s work to be done. It’s not an easy state, they say, but the campaign is devoting a special effort to winning it. “Ohio is going to be a knife fight until the very end. It’s that simple” Beeson intones. “Low single-digits, and a battle” Newhouse says flatly.

One

If Romney manages to win those first five states, the final piece of Rove’s puzzle is “one.” One additional state — any additional state — to put the GOP ticket over the top. Beeson brands this part of the conversation “fun,” eagerly pointing to a large US map on a wall perpendicular to his desk.

Iowa in focus: polls show a virtual tie. “Iowa launched [Obama] in 2008, but the thrill is gone. He’s been camping out in Iowa for a reason,” Beeson says. “And he didn’t move the numbers there,” Newhouse adds, finishing Beeson’s sentence…Iowans have an acute intolerance for debt, a topic Romney ads have hammered in the Hawkeye State.

The rest

Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada: Cautious optimism (“rosier’)

  • Beeson circles back to his home state of Colorado. “We’re doing pretty damn well, all things considered,” he says. “It’s legitimately a one point race. It’s going to come down to [Denver’s] collar suburbs.” He rattles them off, pointing at the laminated map.

New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania:  heavy lifting needed

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Romney Ground Game to Keep Pennsylvania in Play?

The ad dollars don’t lie and for now Team Romney is not aggressively playing for Pennsylvania in the all important TV ad game.  But the Super Saturdays continue apace and the numbers are staggering in their out-performance of McCain 2008. The one state that risks getting out of hand among Battlegrounds is Pennsylvania but the ground work tells a very different story:

Republican Mitt Romney and allied organizations are off the airwaves in Pennsylvania’s television markets for now, raising questions about how much the challenger is willing to contend for its 20 electoral votes. And yet Romney and his allies with the Republican National Committee are reaching out to voters in Pennsylvania (and other swing states) with a ground game that is far more intensive than the party was able to muster in support of John McCain four years ago.

So far, Romney volunteers have made nearly two million voter contacts by phone call and door-to-door canvassing, said Kate Meriwether, state spokeswoman for the Romney campaign. She said that 250,000 of those contacts had been door knocks. That was nine times more phone calls and 64 times more door visits than the John McCain campaign had managed in Pennsylvania within two weeks of election day 2008, Meriwether said. Last Saturday, which was the monthly “Super Saturday” for the Romney GOTV effort, volunteers knocked on about 50,000 doors and made more than 130,000 phone calls.

On Wednesday, the state’s top Republicans, Gov. Corbett and Sen. Pat Toomey, said that they believe Pennsylvania is competitive despite what the polls have said. “My sense is that the polls reported on in the press diverged completely from the polls I had internally,” Toomey said in a conference call with reporters. “I am just skeptical of the polling data I have seen.” Corbett said that private GOP polls, which he did not detail, “ lead me to believe that this race is much closer” than the 7.7 percentage point advantage Obama enjoyed in the average of all public Pennsylvania polls compiled by the Real Clear Politics website.

The governor also suggested that voters are inured to 30-second spots. “Television ads have been on in this race for over a year now – a lot of people see (an) ad and turn it right off,” Corbett said. “If we keep our head down and keep hitting these numbers, it’s going to be a real shock to Team Obama in late October,” Meriwether said.

Romney Opens Victory Office in Steubenville, Ohio

As part of the Super Saturday in Ohio, the Romney campaign opened another field office in Steubenville:

The Republican Party is heating up the Presidential race in Ohio; a state they know is critical to winning the election in November. The Romney Campaign opened new headquarters on Saturday inside the Fort Steuben Mall. Ohio Valley republicans were there show their support and had a chance to speak with local politicians.

Congressman Bill Johnson and Senator Pat Toomey also attended to kick off Romney’s new Campaign headquarters. They discussed topics important to the upcoming election, such as job creation and Obama-care. Senator Toomey says Romney’s experience in the private sector will enable him to make it easier for entrepreneurs and small business owners to create news jobs throughout the state.

Also at Saturday’s event, volunteers were signed up to make calls and go door-to-door for the Romney campaign. Congressman Johnson says it’s supporters like the ones at Saturday’s event that can determine the Presidential election. Republicans also say they will work to change current EPA regulations that are hindering energy production in industries important to the Ohio Valley such as coal and shale.

Obama supporters protested outside the mall. 7 News was told they had to be asked to leave inside near where the headquarters are located.

Massive Romney “Super Saturday” in Virginia

The Romney campaign with the help of high powered surrogates held 11 “super Saturday” events around Virginia:

This Saturday, Republicans in Virginia and around the country will kick off the second monthly “Super Saturday” weekend ahead of November. Statewide and nationally, volunteers will make literally hundreds of thousands of voter contacts by phone and in person. July was the earliest the GOP has tested its ground game operation.

With a rising unemployment rate and a record 42 months of 8 percent plus unemployment in the news today, President Obama’s continued failure to keep his promises and help the middle class, we expect hundreds of volunteers on the phones and knocking on doors to promote Governor Romney’s focus on job creation and economic growth. Please join us for our “Super Saturday” marquee events in Leesburg and Arlington as well as other kick off events across the commonwealth.

Leesburg, 9am, Super Saturday Kickoff with Gov. Bob McDonnell, Gov. Scott Walker, Rep. Frank Wolf

Loudoun Victory Office
18 Royal Street, SE
Leesburg, VA

Arlington, 11am Romney for President Virginia Headquarters Grand Opening with  Gov. Scott Walker, RNC Political Director Rick Wiley

Romney for President Virginia Headquarters
3811 Fairfax Drive, Suite 750
Arlington, VA

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Romney “Super Saturday” in Iowa

Iowa “Super Saturday” write-up includes an interesting nugget demonstrating the level of commitment from the national party towards Iowa and the November election. Buried at the end of the piece it mentions “This year marks the first time the Republican National Committee has put staff in with the Des Moines County Republicans’ headquarters.”  Very interesting.  Here’s the whole thing:

Des Moines County Republicans haven’t fully settled into their new digs yet in preparation for the Nov. 6 election. But volunteers are so eager to get started that phone calls already have been made and doors already have been knocked on.  To officially begin their efforts in Des Moines County, Republicans are having a Super Saturday event at their new location.  The Republican headquarters for Des Moines County is 3125 Agency St. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, volunteers will gather at the HQ and begin making calls or organizing to go out onto the street. The event is part of a national event. This is the second Super Saturday event put on by Republicans across the country but the first in Burlington.  The event will continue throughout the day and anyone is welcome, as long as they’re willing to go to work for southeast Iowa’s Republican candidates.

“There are a whole bunch of volunteers who are fired up about electing Mitt Romney and other candidates in that (southeast Iowa) area,” said Tom Szold, a spokesman with the Republican National Committee. “We’re going to get a lot done on Saturday, I think.”  He said people in Burlington, like a lot of places, feel President Barack Obama’s policies haven’t delivered and therefore they are ready to work hard for his opponent, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.  This year marks the first time the Republican National Committee has put staff in with the Des Moines County Republicans’ headquarters. “We are fairly optimistic this year for a variety of reasons,” said Des Moines County Republican co-chairman B.J. Jahn.

Romney “Super Saturday” in Michigan

Today is another “Super Saturday” where Romney campaign offices around the country will canvas the battleground states registering voters and making certain every Romney vote gets counted.  Here are the Michigan details:

Mitt Romney supporters all across the state plan to make this Saturday, a “Super Saturday”. Volunteers across Michigan will pack “victory centers” to make calls and some will go door-to-door to garner support for the Republican presidential candidate. The Romney mobile headquarters bus will make stops at the following locations:

Monroe Michigan March to Victory

  • Monroe Victory Office
  • 40 S. Monroe Street
  • Monroe, MI
  • 9:30 AM

Livingston Michigan March to Victory

  • Livingston Romney Victory Office
  • 2554 E. Grand River Avenue
  • Howell, MI
  • 12:00 PM

Lake Orion Michigan March to Victory

  • Oakland- Lake Orion Romney Victory Office
  • 3048 W. Clarkson Road
  • Lake Orion, MI
  • 4:15 PM

Oakland – Royal Oak Michigan March to Victory

  • Royal Oak Romney Victory Office
  • 30701 Woodward Avenue
  • Royal Oak, MI
  • 5:45 PM

Tea Party Ground Game in Ohio

Douglas Blackmon in the Washington Post takes a look at the changing tactics of the tea party from protest movement to activist organization. In typical mainstream media fashion, the piece is full of passive aggressive slights of the tea party, but buried deep into the write-up is an impressive data point on the massive ground game being unleashed on behalf the Romney campaign and other Republicans:

In pivotal Ohio, tea party organizers who not long ago opposed the presumptive Republican nominee recently supplied hundreds of volunteers for a Romney campaign operation dubbed the “Buckeye Blitz.” In June, the volunteers visited more than 100,000 households identified by the GOP as undecided or independent voters, according to David Zupan, a tea party activist in Avon Lake, a suburb of Cleveland. In a big push this month, a mix of tea party and other Romney volunteers visited at least 40,000 homes in all 88 Ohio counties, according to Scott Jennings, Romney’s state director in Ohio.

Of course, even in these three sentences the writer couldn’t help throw in one of five mentions that the tea party wasn’t against Romney in the primaries. The Obama re-election machine in the media must be getting nervous. Hack journalism at its finest.

Romney Victory Offices Opening All Over Ohio

The Obama campaign is quick to point out how many field offices they have opened in battleground states and compare that to the Romney campaign’s disproportionate lower number.  While this is somewhat related to competing strategies it was always a reflection of Obama’s incumbency allowing an earlier start versus Romney battling away in the GOP primary. Despite the head-start, the Romney campaign has largely caught up in volume of campaign field offices in Ohio, but lags in aggregate campaign and national party offices:

Republican Mitt Romney is pulling even with President Obama in the number of campaign offices opened in Southwest Ohio, for those who are keeping score. The GOP has been on a “Victory Center” blitz, opening offices in Liberty Township on Saturday and in Clermont County, near Eastgate Mall, on Monday. Offices are also operating in Lebanon, Westwood and Kenwood, and by month’s end, a sixth office will open in Colerain Township. Technically, they are Republican party offices – not Romney offices – with the dual purpose of electing him president and assisting other Republicans down ticket.

The Republicans are closing the gap in the statewide office count, as well. In early June they had just seven campaign offices throughout Ohio, compared with 25 Obama offices. By the end of July, the GOP expects to have 35 offices in Ohio, compared with 41 Obama offices plus 18 Democratic Party campaign offices.

Why keep score? Despite the millions of dollars that will be spent on TV ads in Ohio, both sides agree that on-the-ground organizing is at least as critical to winning in November, if not more so. “The opening of these offices just reinforces the commitment our campaign has to running an aggressive grassroots operation across all 88 Ohio counties,” Romney spokesman Christopher Maloney said. “We’re prepared to match (Obama) volunteer for volunteer, door-knock for door-knock. That’s what wins elections, and that’s what we’re focused on.” He also targeted the grassroots in his bus tour through northern Ohio last week; stops included an ice cream social in Sandusky.

Iowa Evangelicals on Board with Romney

As if her 1300+ words in USA Today wasn’t enough, Jennifer Jacobs filed another 1100+ words on the evangelical vote and Romney’s appeal to this most-important voter bloc in Iowa. Included in this great piece is a nugget where of 12 evangelicals who viewed Romney “very unfavorable” in February, 11 are now voting for him.  Such is the unpopularity of Obama:

Romney’s strength in the 2012 Iowa caucuses was with economic voters, especially those in the Des Moines suburbs. But the same evangelical conservatives who sidestepped Romney twice in the Iowa caucuses could be his best friends in the
general election.

Local surrogate importance of Rep. Steve King

As the general election approaches, Romney is running as strongly as conservative icon U.S. Rep. Steve King with voters in Iowa’s GOP-dominant western coast, according to internal polling obtained by The Des Moines Register. That’s a good sign for Romney — there’s no such thing as a King/Obama voter. If Iowa’s evangelicals put a GOP presidential candidate over the top, it wouldn’t be the first time. Everyone — including the Register’s Iowa Poll — thought Democrat John Kerry would win Iowa in 2004. But a larger than expected evangelical voter turnout in the western part of the state secured the Iowa trophy for George W. Bush.  The guy with the spatula who flipped Iowa for Bush that year? King, said Chuck Laudner, the congressman’s former district director.

Repeat of 2004 or maybe not

Romney isn’t repeating Karl Rove’s 2004 appeal-to-the-base strategy in Iowa, his campaign strategists say. The Rove-directed George W. Bush re-election campaign targeted mainly northwest Iowa and a ring of Des Moines suburbs. Romney’s campaign intends to hold those coalitions in place, while pursuing voters in purple counties in eastern Iowa, southeast Iowa and central Iowa. President Barack Obama’s perceived liberal agenda alone is a bloody shirt that revs up the right, so Romney can invest his dollars in reeling in independents and conservative Democrats, numbers that could put him over the top in what is expected to be a close race here. And his message will focus on the economy, an issue that plays to his background as a businessman and the emotions of listeners pummeled by the recession and its aftermath.

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Romney “Super Saturday” Voter Blitz

Flexing its ground game muscles, the Romney campaign is having a dry run of the voter outreach normally reserved for just before that actual election day:

In the first of a series of massive volunteer mobilization efforts, the campaign and the Republican Party will undertake “Super Saturday,” a day when GOP volunteers call and canvass hundreds of thousands of swing-state voters, just as they will before Nov. 6. The goal is not just to know which voters are on board with Romney, but to test the presidential campaign’s ability to turn out the vote — something the GOP struggled with in 2008. The results will be tracked in real time through software applications that allow volunteers to enter information into their cellphones on the voter’s doorstep. Information from phone calls is also recorded. A “dashboard” allows Wiley and campaign staff to monitor results as they happen. “We learn a lot about what our volunteers are capable of doing. As we get into the fall, there’s a ton of voters to cover,” said Dave Kochel, Romney’s Iowa consultant. “More than testing specific messages, we’re testing the effectiveness of our organization.”

Not a one-time effort

The GOP will run these Saturday tests once a month. The information is used as the campaign progresses to guide decisions such as where to deploy volunteers, where to focus early-voting turnout efforts, and which areas have the most undecided voters.

Changes after 2008 debacle

Two years ago, the GOP also abandoned its traditional 72-hour final push to mobilize voters, which had deployed congressional staffers to battleground states. That was expensive, Wylie said, and “quite frankly some of those Hill staffers aren’t the greatest” volunteers. Instead of making phone calls and knocking on doors, “they’re wanting to sit there making strategic decisions.” Now, Wylie said, the GOP is spending the money on voter contact over a longer period of time. In 2008, Republicans lacked funds for get-out-the-vote programs [and] made 28 million voter contacts. That jumped to 44 million in 2010, a number that Wylie says this year’s effort will exceed.

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Mountain West States in Focus — Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico

Our friends at the Financial Times take a look at the electorally less valuable but almost equally important Mountain West states and the aggressive Obama infrastructure expected to give him an advantage in the Fall:

Renowned for its grassroots organisation in 2008, Mr Obama’s campaign is building a structure in states such as Colorado that dwarfs his efforts four years ago. Often bit players in the US presidential election, Colorado, along with New Mexico and Nevada in the so-called mountain west region , now make up the country’s swing region and will be vital in deciding the winner in November. If Mr Obama can hold the three states, which he won in 2008, Mitt Romney will have a mountain of his own to climb in the industrial midwest to have any chance of returning a Republican to the White House. With the mountain west’s 20 electoral college votes under his belt, Mr Obama could lose perennial bellwether states like Ohio and Florida and still win, unless Mr Romney manages to flip a Democratic stronghold like Michigan into his corner.

Coalition of the ascendent

Colorado in particular is a microcosm of the trends Mr Obama is relying on to overcome worries about the economy: relatively socially liberal and environmentally friendly and with a growing number of Hispanics. The state also has a high proportion of educated women, another group that leans heavily towards Mr Obama and that he needs to motivate in order to win. As in Nevada and New Mexico, strong Hispanic support for Mr Obama will be crucial, as long as his campaign can get a traditionally low-voting community to the polls.

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The Battle for Florida

Florida may no longer holds its position as the #1 Battleground state in the nation as it did in 2000 and 2004, but it remains an enormously important state in the 2012 election:

The stakes are hard to overstate: Obama’s re-election is nearly assured should he repeat his 2008 victory in Florida, based on how the states lean now. His standing in Florida is far more precarious than it is in other contested states – so if he wins Florida, it’s likely that he’s won in many other states as he looks to cobble together the 270 Electoral College votes it takes to win. Romney’s state-by-state routes to reaching the magic number are more limited than the president’s, and a Florida victory would make it far more probable that he could win the presidency.

The I-4 corridor

Voters along Interstate 4, which stretches from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach, will determine the outcome if the race remains close into the fall, as expected. About 45 percent of the state’s voters live in that 17-county area. But both candidates stressed central Florida early on. Obama was in Tampa in April, announcing a measure to promote trade with Latin America. Romney was in neighboring St. Petersburg in May, promoting plans to cut federal spending. Both stopped in Orlando last month to visit businesses and appeal for support from Latino voters. “The reality is it’s the most up-for-grabs part of the most up-for-grabs state,” B.J. Neidhardt, manager of Orlando Democrat Val Demings’ congressional campaign, said of Florida’s midsection.

Bad news for Obama and Democrats belief in the “coalition of the ascendent”

The electorate in Florida is virtually unchanged from 2008 because the ailing economy stifled the population growth of the previous decade. And in this campaign, the economy dominates. The recession took a deep toll on the state’s recreation industry, especially around Orlando. A decline in foreign trade hurt the Port of Tampa, Florida’s largest shipping port. The housing crisis fueled widespread home foreclosures and severely hampered the construction industry on which much of the region’s immigrant-heavy workforce relies. Florida’s unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in May, slightly higher than the national average and all other presidential battleground states except Nevada. A little more than four months before the Nov. 6 election, Obama narrowly leads Romney in statewide polls.

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Obama Campaign Keeps Faith in Ground Game, But Should They?

This topic has crept into many blog posts where the Obama campaign is spending inordinate amounts of money on field offices and staff across the Battleground states while the Romney campaign plans a better-funded but smaller footprint.  Conceptually I would normally side with the Obama campaign in this effort since the winner in the ground game (that is, getting out the vote) usually wins the election.  But I think the Obama campaign is too focused on the “finish” and not enough on the race in this regard. The Wall Street Journal has a brief article on exactly this risk:

Once again, the Obama high command is making a big bet on their ground operation. The aim is to flood the zone: open up offices in battleground states, call undecided voters, and swarm the shopping malls to register as many people as possible. In this way, Democrats hope to neutralize the Republican super PAC advantage by out-registering and out-working the GOP on the streets. “We believe we have an absolute advantage on the ground,’’ Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in an interview.

Republicans undaunted

But Republicans believe the Obama ground game isn’t the fearsome force it used to be. They point to electoral setbacks that Democrats have endured in the years since team Obama built its grassroots network. Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, said the Wisconsin recall should have been an easy “layup’’ for Democrats given that the party had been busing in “every hippie liberal and union thug’’ to help oust Scott Walker, a Republican. Mr. Walker won handily. “What’s the proof they can mobilize?’’ Mr. Spicer said.

Voter Registration concerns

Voter-registration figures show some softness on the Democratic side, suggesting the Obama ground game has work to do. Third Way, a centrist think tank, has been studying registration trends in eight battleground states. The group released a report in May showing that since 2008, independent registration has been rising. Meantime, Republican registration has dropped by 157,000 in these states; Democratic registration by 841,000. Neither party’s brand has been faring all that well.

Battleground Counties: Henrico County, Virginia

One of our favorite topics gets more ink today in the Richmond Times-Dispatch–Battleground Counties.  Henrico County, Virginia was mentioned in our very first post on this subject and remains as vital as ever to securing victory in one of the most important states this election cycle:

Henrico County has emerged as a bellwether in a critical battleground state that could determine the outcome of the presidential election. In large part because of the county’s influence, the Richmond area is among the regions where the battle for Virginia’s 13 electoral votes is expected to be decided. Last week, the Richmond-Petersburg area was the top media market in the nation for advertising in the presidential election by the Obama and Romney campaigns and outside groups. In recent years, the former conservative stronghold of Henrico has shifted from a dark red to pure purple, reflecting the demographic and attitudinal shifts that have put Virginia at the center of the Obama-Romney battle…University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said that while Henrico won’t necessarily decide the election, it will undoubtedly serve as a barometer for the state. “If Obama carries Henrico again, it’s an indicator he’s probably winning the state,” Sabato said. “He can lose it, but not by much.”

A volatile voting county

When Henrico reversed course in 2008 and voted for Obama after decades of picking Republican presidential candidates, so did Virginia, marking the first time a Democratic presidential candidate won the state since President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. The following year, the county swung back, backing Republican Bob McDonnell for governor. But Henrico’s political volatility goes back a bit further. In 2005, the year after the county helped keep President George W. Bush in the White House, the county voted to put Democrat Timothy M. Kaine in the Executive Mansion. In 2006, Henrico supported Republican George Allen in his ill-fated bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Two years later, the county not only helped elect Obama but also supported Democrat Mark R. Warner for the U.S. Senate.

Formerly predominantly white, now a suburban melting pot

  • Henrico is the sixth most-populous locality in the state
  • African-Americans now account for 30 percent of Henrico’s population, up from less than 25 percent in 2000
  • The Hispanic population has grown 152 percent since 2000 and now represents 5 percent of the county’s population
  • Henrico’s Asian population now tops 20,000 people and accounts for 6.5 percent of the population, compared with 3.6 percent in 2000
  • East vs West: While the western portion of the county’s population remains largely affluent, white and conservative, the eastern end, which has exploded in population, has become largely black and Democratic

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Democrat Perspective: Obama Ground Game Too Much for Romney in Ohio

Previously we have looked at Pennsylvania (twice) and Nevada from the Democrat’s Perspective.  Now we add Ohio to the list with an in-depth discussion of the Democrat’s ground game versus the expected GOP air campaign:

Democrats’ crushing loss in the Wisconsin recall has forced a round of self-examination within the party over how to best spend precious resources: building a sophisticated ground game, or bulking up their presence in TV attack ads. Democrats in Ohio — a battleground state considered the top electoral prize by both campaigns — have landed squarely on the former. If Wisconsin showed anything, they say, it’s that Democrats’ ground operation was no match for Republicans’ air campaign, which aims to hit $1 billion this cycle.

State party Chairman Chris Redfern  builds the ground operation:

But in Ohio — a state no Republican has won the presidency without — state Democrats insist that their massive ground game will repel whatever Republican bombardment comes over the airwaves. “You know the old saying: Can’t buy me love,” Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio state Democratic Party told TPM. In Ohio, Redfern said, “We’re fully confident that infrastructure will overcome massive amounts of money on television.” Redfern, a former state senator, has staked his reputation on taking the Ohio Democratic Party from an organization in shambles to one with the most sophisticated ground-game operation of any state party in the country. The party’s website boasts of Redfern’s “88-County Strategy,” which “recognizes that Democrats win by competing for votes in every area of Ohio,” it reads. Ohio Democrats believe the strategy helped win big victories in 2006, 2008 and 2011.

Then versus now:

In 2005, when Redfearn took the helm, the party was in tatters and had only six employees, he said. Now they have more than 100, the largest of any state Democratic party in the nation. Combined staffing for the Obama campaign in Ohio, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s re-election campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party will be about 500 people, with thousands of volunteers, said Redfern. Redfern says this summer they will have offices in all 88 counties, with up to seven offices in some locations — on top of the 100 field offices the Obama campaign intends to have in the state. By the time Democrats and labor scored a big victory in November 2011 when voters repealed anti-union SB 5, the party had become “a well-oiled machine.”

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SEIU Joins the Battlegrounds–Wisconsin and Pennsylvania? Yes. North Carolina? No.

I’m sure the left media will decry this affront to democracy just as much as they do when this comes from a pro-Romney PAC. The Wall Street Journal has the goods:

The Service Employees International Union said it will spend a similar amount of money to re-elect President Barack Obama as it did in 2008, but will reach out to three times as many potential voters this year with a focus on eight battleground states. The union spent about $85 million in 2008 and “this year will look similar,” said political director Brandon Davis.

Ground game:

“But that’s not where our advantage is. Our advantage quite frankly is on the ground,” Mr. Davis told reporters on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. The union plans to make 13 million phone calls, knock on more than three million doors and hold more than one million conversations with potential voters in battleground states including Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. That’s fewer states than the 14 it targeted in 2008, underscoring its strategy to deepen and expand its reach in key locations. The union hopes to rely on 100,000 volunteers and 750 full-time campaign workers in battleground states. It plans to expand its reach in part by contacting more non-union members and sharpening its focus on registering Latinos and African-Americans, said SEIU officials.

Sapping strength:

Organized labor is facing the prospect of weakening political power and declining membership as state lawmakers cut benefits and bargaining rights of public-sector union workers. Still, unions remain one of the Democratic party’s most loyal supporters, using their funding and network of members to generate votes.

Battleground State Nuggets From Around the Romney Bus Tour

The Associated Press’ macro look at the Romney bus tour is chock full of goodies like the depleted Democrat strength in Detroit, the split focus between Pennsylvania and Ohio, the widening Romney electoral map  and much more :

Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is pushing to win a band of Midwestern states that voted for President Barack Obama four years ago and that generally have a long history of backing Democrats in White House elections. Romney faces hurdles and advantages in each state but his approach will leave Obama no choice but to spend time and money defending states he carried in 2008. That Romney is even making a play for the arc of states from Pennsylvania to Iowa also suggests his path to the 270 electoral votes he will need to win the White House may be widening.

Wisconsin momentum and “easy bake” ground game:

Before arriving in Iowa on Monday, Romney stopped in Janesville, Wis., an economically struggling, one-time manufacturing hub in the southern part of the state. Unemployment there is 9 percent, well above the state average of 6.8 percent for May. The national average is 8.2 percent. He toured Monterey Mills, a unionized company that makes fabric for paint rollers and the stuffing for toys like Winnie the Pooh. Wisconsin, which has not backed a Republican for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984, presents a new opportunity for Romney, almost exclusively due to Gov. Scott Walker’s triumph two weeks ago in a contentious recall election. Walker’s win, after an 18-month fight over public employee union rights, gives Republicans hope. It also gives Romney a corps of well-trained organizers and reams of voter data to put to use. But he still has his work cut out for him. Voters said in exit polls after the June 5 election that they trust Obama more to address the nation’s economic struggles — the chief argument for Romney, a former businessman — and the interests of the middle class. Obama also continues to have the advantage in urban areas, especially among minority voters, which each state except Iowa has. Although Romney aides say there is no Midwestern lynchpin, they argue that a competitive streak in Wisconsin is good for them in the entire region.

Iowa in focus:

Iowa, however, has trended Republican since Obama won it in 2008. Like nearly every state in the arc, Iowans turned down Democratic candidates for governor in favor of pro-business Republicans. Iowa voters dumped three state Supreme Court justices to protest their decision allowing gay marriage. Romney’s campaign also spent the year before the state’s leadoff nominating caucuses laying the foundation in this true swing state for a general election campaign. Iowa has voted Republican in every other presidential election since 1988. Obama, meanwhile, enjoys a special Iowa connection, having won the 2008 Democratic caucuses in Cinderella fashion. He’s already built a robust ground operation. He has spent nearly $5 million on advertising in Iowa, and has spent no money in Wisconsin since early in the year.

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The Battle for New Hampshire

Mitt Romney kicks off his “Every Town Counts” tour tomorrow in the state and at the farm he launched his Presidential campaign barely over twelve months ago. According to the Associated Press, Both campaigns are flooding the tiny state with money and attention, suggesting more may be at stake than four electoral votes in an election each side expects will be a nail-biter to the end:

Perhaps no presidential battleground will test the leanings of critical independent voters more than the “Live Free or Die” state. Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney’s ties run deep in a place that has vacillated between Republicans and Democrats in recent years. “Gov. Romney has a very special relationship with New Hampshire,” says Jim Merrill, a top New Hampshire-based strategist for both of Romney’s presidential campaigns. Despite the familiarity, there is little doubt that Romney — sometimes dubbed an “adopted New Hampshire son” — faces a steep climb.

Advantage Obama:

Recent polls give Obama an early edge. Romney also is just beginning to awaken a local campaign apparatus that’s largely been dormant for months. Obama’s team, meanwhile, activated its grassroots network long ago. The walls were still bare in parts of Romney’s state headquarters last week, the same day Obama’s team hosted nearly two dozen house parties across the state. Scores of Democratic volunteers gathered at strangers’ kitchen tables, on front porches and in sewing rooms to make calls, recruit more volunteers and attack their Republican opponent.

Strong local economy:

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate stands at just 5 percent, among the best in the country, compared to the nationwide average of 8.2 percent. Romney argues that any economic success is in spite of — not because of — Obama’s leadership. That’s an argument Republicans are making in other swing states with below average unemployment rates — Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio and Colorado among them.

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Wisconsin Recall Post Mortem

Karl Rove identifies in the Wall Street Journal the comparative strength in the GOP ground game versus the braggadocios Democrat ground game. Walker won the recall because:

Democrats were out-hustled by the Republicans– Walker won with 205,509 more votes than he received 18 months ago. Walker won by 172,739 votes, up from his 2010 margin of 124,638 votes; 38% of union households voted for Mr. Walker, up a point from 2010. The Badger State now looks more like it did in 2000 and 2004, when Democrats narrowly carried it by margins of 5,708 votes and 11,384 votes, respectively. President Obama’s campaign now admits Wisconsin is a tossup.

Democrats losing the voter-registration war in the eight battleground states:

In  Florida and Iowa Democratic registrations are down from their 2010 levels. Nearly 29,000 Democrats have disappeared from the Iowa registration rolls since January 2011, while about 10,000 Republicans have been added [Rove claims Florida is also seeing increased registrations of Republicans]. In Pennsylvania, both parties have lost ground—but Democrats have lost more: there are now 176,000 fewer Democrats registered in Pennsylvania than in November 2010, while GOP registrations have dropped by 62,000. Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and North Carolina, both parties increased registrations—but Republicans added more. (All registration numbers come from state websites.)

Bottom line: “To beat Mr. Obama, Republicans must duplicate the ground game deployed by the GOP in Wisconsin that registered, persuaded and produced a massive turnout.”

Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard blog says Scott Walker is sending a message to Mitt Romney: “Go Big, and Go Bold

“In order for him to be competitive, not only in Wisconsin but in states like Wisconsin, he’s going to have to come out and show an aggressive plan to take on what we know are even bigger problems in our federal government. If he can do that, I think he can be competitive in Wisconsin.”

John McCormick at Bloomberg takes a lengthy look at the shaken Obama electoral map after Walker’s victory:

Until earlier this week, target states listed by President Barack Obama’s campaign didn’t include [Wisconsin]. In a campaign video released June 4 — the day before the recall — Obama campaign manager Jim Messina listed Wisconsin as “undecided,” along with Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia. “The key for Governor Romney to be competitive enough to win is I think he’s got to lay out a clear platform — something similar to what our friend Paul Ryan has done,” Walker said.

Ann Romney in Miami and Victory Field Offices Identified

Mitt Romney’s #1 female surrogate is heading to the Sunshine State tomorrow. Ann Romney will join state Sen. Anitere Flores for a an afternoon (2pm) campaign event in Miami at Islas Canarias.

She’ll be hitting Florida at just the right time with the Romney campaign ramping up its statewide operations to match the impressive head-start of the Obama campaign. Last week we blogged the Tampa Bay Times look at the two operations and the article mentioned 23 all-important “Victory” field offices –where the Republicans coordinate get-out-the-vote operations for November–but didn’t have their locations.  Now we do.

As we’ve mentioned before, Florida is often analyzed as three different states. Northern Florida is distinctly Republican while South Florida is distinctly Democrat with the middle “I-4 corridor” laden with swing voters who decide most statewide elections.The Romney campaign smartly moved its headquarters into Democrat territory in the South, right at the base of the I-4 corridor to further capitalize on its Nominating Convention in Tampa. As we can see below only 5 offices are in the Republican North, over half (12) plus the headquarters are in the swing area along the I-4 corridor (**), and 6 offices are in Democrat territory in the South (*).

The state headquarters is in Tampa: 302 Knights Run Ave, Suite 110.

Much like the Obama campaign opening field offices in Republican districts in Ohio, unsurprisingly 80% of these “Victory” offices are in swing districts or in the Democrat heavy South.

Assessing the Ohio Field Offices

With the primary season finally behind Mitt Romney, the race to establish the all-important ground game infrastructure in the Battleground states is in full swing.  The Cincinnati Inquirer takes a look at the state of campaign operations in Ohio right now and with the advantage of incumbency and an uncontested primary, the Obama campaign is out of the gates first with a sizable lead:

President Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by a big margin in Ohio – well, in the number of campaign field offices as of last week. Field offices are headquarters for local volunteers where they plan the use of phone banks, house parties, door-to-door campaigning and neighborhood meetings. Obama has over three times as many offices in Ohio, adding three just last week including one in Cheviot. Because Ohio is a toss-up state, more field offices help that ground game – a campaign’s ability to coordinate volunteers and have them reach potential voters.

How important is this advantage?

“The more offices you have, the greater capacity you’re building to have a good get-out-the-vote operation, to identify your voters and mobilize them on election day,” said Patrick R. Miller, assistant professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati. In a closely contested race, Miller told The Enquirer, “if everything else is equal – you both have advertising, you’re both polling well – it’s the ground game.”

Despite its late start, the Romney campaign is undaunted:

Romney has two Southwest Ohio offices – in Lebanon and Fairfield Township – among seven statewide. The campaign plans to open another six within the next two weeks. That still leaves the Republican presidential nominee far behind Obama’s 25 statewide field offices. Miller said Romney is not necessarily at a disadvantage at this stage of the campaign because he has fewer field offices. “He has two campaigns worth of connections,” Miller said, because Romney campaigned in Ohio prior to the March 6 primary and ran for the Republican nomination in 2008. “He’s not starting from scratch.”

Field offices alone are not the whole story:

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