Field Campaigns Win Elections

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AP's Nicholas Riccardi has an insightful story about the storied Democratic combined field campaign effort, swinging into action again this year as the polls in Colorado's marquee U.S Senate race look a lot like they did in 2010:

The relentless ground game to inspire voters to cast ballots has helped Democrats dominate Colorado under even the most difficult political circumstances. Four years ago, the strategy helped Sen. Michael Bennet’s come from behind to win re-election. Now Bennet is directing the Senate Democrats’ national campaign arm, testing whether a $60 million get-out-the-vote effort — named, “The Bannock Street Project,” for his old Denver campaign office — can do the same for Udall and other Democrats defending their Senate majority…

Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner has led Udall in recent public polls. Bennet didn’t lead in a single public poll in 2010. [Pols emphasis] Udall’s campaign is modeled on Bennet’s — but with a get-out-the-vote operation three times larger. The incumbent may also benefit from Colorado’s new elections law, passed last year by its Democratic-controlled legislature over Republican objections, that sends mail-in ballots to all voters and allows citizens to register until Election Day.

There’s no guarantee Democrats will dominate on the ground this year. Republicans in Colorado and elsewhere in the nation have upped their focus on getting out the vote. But GOP and conservative opponents know the ground game remains a potent Democratic weapon.

In 2012, the Republican coordinated campaign had serious problems with a new integrated field campaign system called "ORCA," which resulted in widespread breakdowns in their get-out-the-vote operation. We've heard that at least some of the lessons from that failure have been learned by the GOP in time for 2014, but the fact remains that Democratic field campaign efforts have done this successfully over and over in Colorado. Democrats have a degree of experience with getting out the vote in Colorado that the right simply has no analog for in recent elections.

One big variable this year is the impact of the 2013 election modernization legislation, House Bill 13-1303, which resulted in both mail ballots being delivered to every registered voter and the ability to register and vote through Election Day. Consistent with past elections, Republicans are leading the early mail ballot returns. Democratic ballots will come in as they're canvassed, and historically Democrats dominate early voting. 

Just like in 2010, it's going to be very close. But Cory Gardner's steady three-point October lead in the U.S. Senate race, given 2010's experience, is nothing for Republicans to feel good about.

26 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Getting your core voters to turn out is the key in a mid-term.  In that regard, the recent Dem PPP poll comments were interesting:

    Both Democrats are doing well with the groups Democrats tend to do well with in Colorado. Hickenlooper is up 49/39 with women, 60/28 with Hispanics, and 59/31 with young voters. Udall is similarly ahead 46/42 with women, 64/24 with Hispanics, and 59/22 with young voters. The problem for the Democrats is that they are down by significant margins with men- Hickenlooper trails by 10 points, Udall by 11 points- with white voters- Hickenlooper trails by 5 points, Udall by 12 points, and with seniors- Hickenlooper trails by 9 points, Udall by 13 points. The struggles with those groups are largely offsetting their strength with their traditional constituencies.

    If Udall only is up 4% with women he can't win.  Hick is up with women by 10%.  Udall's one note campaign did not exactly help him with women.

  2. Davie says:

    The fundamental problem GOTPers have is that their policies are not popular:

    Hey, let's trust that criminals and nutcases will not buy assault rifles!!!

    Hey, let's make sure we force women stupid enough to get pregnant, regardless of the risk to their lives or how they got preggers (Daddy, you shouldn't have!) carry that baby all the way!!!

    So Democratic GOTV efforts reminding the majority of voters WHY every vote is important tend to be successful.

    • marklane1351 says:

      I get confused. If we accept that a fertilized egg is a real person, Is an invitro fertilization clinic a murder house?

      • BlueCat says:

        Yes and these people don't go around demanding fertility clinic closures even though quantities of fertilized egg persons get trashed in those routinely. Seems like they should be picketing fertility clinics much more frantically than abortion clinics. My guess is it's all about controlling and punishing undeserving people for enjoying sex and nothing to do with being desperate to save lives.

  3. Miss Jane says:

    One possible reason for under polling people who will vote Dem this year is a lot of people won't tell you who they are voting for.  My son illustrated this yesterday.  A very nice 70 year old science teacher was walking our neighborhood for Udall and Hickenlooper.  He asked my son how likely he was to vote for the Democrats with a one being yes and a four or five being no way.  My son said two, fairly likely.  Now, he is going to vote, and he is going to vote Dem, as far as I know.  There is no reason for me to think not.  But he is not going to tell anyone who he will vote for.  He is a millennial. They don't like to tell you. My daughter is the same way.  Many of their friends are, as well. That is just my opinion, but I think there is a trend here.  The personhood issue is killing the gop with the young people.  And they are not too fond of an Ayn Rand fiscal policy, either.

    • mamajama55 says:

      I think you're correct, Miss Jane. A while back, I looked at the Generation Opportunity / Free the Future Koch-funded ads aimed at convincing millenials that there is a "War on Youth".

      I asked all the millenials I knew to respond to me on Facebook about how effective these ads were at swaying them to vote for the GOP. About 15 young adults responded, and said "Not at all", or "I'm not in the Dems pocket either", or "I'm worried about the debt / deficit, and to that extent there IS a war on youth", or "The fact that we may make much of the planet uninhabitable because of climate change proves that there is a war on youth", or "I don't pay much attention", and sundry other viewpoints.

      So I agree that millenials are an ornery, unpredictable bunch, who are not in any political party's pocket. However, they are better informed than we were at that age, and overall, much more liberal on social issues.

    • Andrew Carnegie says:

      Another possibility is that the Polls are right and that Udall is toast.

      • denverco says:

        Yes , I'm sure president romney and senator buck agree with you achole. Your rash has spread to your tiny brain and you aren't able to think correctly.

      • nota33 says:

        AG, I remember way back in 2010 when Buck was leading in all of the polls. The rest is history. Polls don't win elections, GOTV and a good ground game do and the dems ground game sent the right wingers packing in 2008, 2010, and 2012. Just the facts. I know they may upset you wingnut. 😉

    • BlueCat says:

      Millennials don't like to make private choices public? That's something you'd never guess from social media.wink

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