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Right Turn
Posted at 12:11 PM ET, 09/24/2012

Can the GOP beat Obama with its ground game?

Last week, news reports suggested that President Obama had a superior ground game in Iowa, sending out six or seven times the number of absentee ballots in Iowa. But that data point is only one of many factors to look at.

The Romney campaign tells me that there has been a shift in voter ID there. Since January, Republican registration increased by 26,420 voters as compared to an increase of 9,830 for Democrats (a margin of 16,590). A Romney aide responsible for regional outreach dismisses the absentee ballot figure as relatively meaningless. The aides says, “We haven’t dropped a single piece of mail yet. [The mailers] start hitting mail boxes next week, just ahead of the ballots being available because we take a smart approach to this every election year. Even though we do it the same way every year, people still throw up their arms in panic at the first numbers.”

In the end, the aide says Democrats wind up wasting a lot of effort. “Despite the fact that Democrats try to make a big show of their early effort, the GOP consistently has a higher percentage of ballots returned than they do. (They get around 90 % while we get over 95% return rates). The reason for this is that Democrats signed up absentee voters three months ago, sometimes the voter forgets they ever signed up, then they throw away the ballot or don’t notice it when it actually shows up.”

In fact, the Republican ground game may be one of the biggest assets the Romney-Ryan ticket has. The Republican National Committee put out a memo today with some stats with a comparison of ground-game effort this year and the 2008 operation:

• Florida: 10 times more phone calls and 67 times more door knocks than this time in '08.
• North Carolina: 13 times more phone calls and 130 times more door knocks than this time in '08.
• Ohio: 4 times more phone calls and 30 times more door knocks than this time in '08.
• Virginia: 11 times more phone calls and 12 times more door knocks than this time in '08.
• Colorado: 3 times more phone calls and 5 times more door knocks than this time in ‘08.
• Iowa: 5 times more phone calls and 16 times more door knocks than this time in '08.
• New Hampshire: 3 times more phone calls and 8 times more door knocks than this time in '08.
• Nevada: 4 times more phone calls and 10 times more door knocks than this time in '08.
• Michigan: 4 times more phone calls and 18 times more door knocks than this time in '08.
• New Mexico: 3 times more phone calls than this time in '08.
• Pennsylvania: 6 times more phone calls and 44 times more door knocks than this time in '08.
• Wisconsin: 5 times more phone calls and 66 times more door knocks than this time in ‘08

A single figure (e.g., absentee ballots) isn’t very helpful in assessing the relative ground game of the two sides. One thing we know is that the GOP in some key states (Wisconsin, Florida) has greatly increased its registration numbers recently. Reuters reported that in Florida “1,365 people registered as Democratic voters in the 13 months that ended at the end of August, compared with an average of 209,425 for the same periods before the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. Meanwhile, 128,039 Republicans have registered in the state over the past 13 months, up from an average of 103,555 in the same period in 2004 and 2008.”

Those numbers can, in a close race, be decisive. If the GOP can motivate those voters to get out, it will be a cushion in some states that the campaign badly needs to win.

By  |  12:11 PM ET, 09/24/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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