SixFifty

lessons from America

Ground game gains

I haven’t yet had a chance to search for turnout figures state-by-state and to look at whether battleground states had noticeably higher turnout (or experienced a greater % increase in turnout since 2004) compared to non-competitive states.  However, what I have found is a neat post on 538 using exit polling to analyse in swing states whether the side which contacted the most voters won. 

The upshot: yes, the ground game is important and is one of the factors why Obama did so well in certain states. Of the 12 battleground states polled, in all but West Virgina more people had been contacted by the Obama campaign than the McCain campaign.  And of the 12, Obama only lost in West Virginia and Missouri (just). 

Nevada, Colorado and Indiana were all places where Obama actually did much better than polls had predicted.  These were states with by far the highest reported gap between people being contacted by Obama campaigners and McCain campaigners.  Conversely, in West Virginia and Wisconsin there was the smallest margin between voter contacts and Obama did less well there than polls would have suggested.

Nate offers some good interpretations of the data:

“Wisconsin was also relatively close, perhaps because Obama redirected its legion number of Illinois-based volunteers from Wisconsin to Indiana a couple of weeks in advance of the election.”

“Although Obama’s field operation was good, Kerry’s was pretty good too; the difference [this eledtion] may be that while Bush’s field operation was also good, John McCain’s was not.”

“It is possible that Obama’s field operation was more efficient than Kerry’s, as the contact rate gap was larger in battleground than in non-battleground states. I have heard multiple stories of voters in states like Indiana receiving as many as three or four in-person contacts from the Obama campaign on Tuesday. This is a sign of a campaign that knew where the tipping points were, rather than (say) sending volunteers to Michigan on Election Day just to play it safe.”

So putting resources into local organising and gotv activities does work.  But Nate’s final point also shows the limits of a 50 State Strategy when push-comes-to-shove in the closing days of a campaign. The choices still have to be made and under a winner-takes-all system it mitigates against pushing for every last vote in places you are likely to win anyway.

One additional comment from Nate worth mentioning, as it helps explain why Democrats (and the same could be said of the Labour Party) need to work extra hard each election on gotv efforts: 

“Democrats are in fact relying upon lower-propensity voters like youth and minorities. Therefore, it is more incumbent upon the Democrats to have a strong ground game to turn these voters out.”

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November 10, 2008 Posted by | 50 State strategy | , | Leave a comment

Indiana irrelevant no more

Somewhere just beyond the Rustbelt and not quite to the corn fields of Iowa lie a proud and peaceful people: the Hoosiers.  They have suffered and been ignored for a long time.  And they have taken this with quiet dignity. Until now they have taken the logical path of resignation and acceptance of their fate.  It is not in their character to be like some of their more noisy neighbours or even subscribe to the Todd Palin school of secessionist thought.  All they want is a bit of love and attention; a good listener; someone who is willing to put in some investment of time and money to show that they are serious in wanting their votes.   And it appears that finally, this year, they have found that one.  

Or to put it in slightly a less whimsical fashion:

“One noteworthy feature of Indiana is that it has had rather low turnout in recent elections, perhaps because neither party has really bothered to campaign there. As such, likely voter models which are rooted in past voting history may be unreliable. And according to Tom Jensen, Obama has a 68-24 lead among voters who did not cast a ballot in 2004. These are the sorts of statistics that the Obama campaign is looking at, and they’re why they remain very engaged in the Hoosier State.”  (Nate on 538:)

Chalk up one for the 50 State Strategy. Indiana is just further evidence of that old adage: uncompetitive elections and/or taking voters for granted often leads to lower turnout.  Where as competitive elections and/or actively pouring resources into campaigning and getting out the vote encourages higher turnout. Obviously we still await election day itself and the results to bear this out. So Hoosiers, it’s over to you ….

October 30, 2008 Posted by | 50 State strategy | , , | Leave a comment