Organizing For America, Politics, President Obama — October 31, 2010 at 1:35 pm

How OFA’s GOTV operation will change this election


I have no doubt that we’re going to win some and lose some come next Tuesday night. But so many of the races across our country will be won 51-49 by one side or another. And it’s in these races where GOTV is going to make ALL the difference.

From now until the polls close on Tuesday, my every waking hour will be spent G’ingOTDV. This blog entry is about why I think that Organizing for America’s efforts are going to change this this election and why it’s going to help us have some very nice surprises on November 3rd.

This past week, Organizing for America (OFA) has been pulling out all the stops. We’ve had a “7 in 7” campaign where we hoped to contact 7 million Democratic voters in 7 days, urging them to GOTV. Well, as you can see, we’ve blown past that and we’re not on Day 7 yet.

If you got to the OFA website, you can volunteer to GOTDV, you can use their totally kick-ass online virtual phonebanking tool (which enters the data back into the Voter Action Network database instantly.) You can find out where to vote, report polling place irregularities and access a whole host of other useful voting resources.

But there’s a much fuller and richer effort going on, almost under the radar and in stealth mode, that has been months in the making. As many of you know, OFA has been contacting folks on our lists since late spring/early summer and getting them to sign pledge cards where they pledge to vote for Democrats. Here’s the one I got Howard Dean to sign when he was in Ann Arbor, Michigan earlier this fall:

Click for a bigger picture (opens in a new tab/window)

Now, after all of these months of calling and phoning, we are set to go back to these people to gently and cheerfully remind them of their pledge. As the OFA Community Organizer in my area, I will be running a staging area this weekend where we will launch canvasses and phonebank continuously from Saturday morning through when the polls close on Tuesday. We have over 20 packets each with over 50 homes in them. We will contact each of these more than 1,000 households THREE TIMES over the next four days. First to remind them to vote, second to leave a door hanger telling them where to vote and which Democrats are running and, finally, on Election Day itself, to make sure they voted.

Over 1,000 households. In just one staging area. Plus phonebanking. And that’s just ONE staging area of three in our city. And our city is just one of hundreds in our state where this is happening. And our state is just one of 50 where OFA is G’ingOTDV.

You do the math.

So, have you been reading about this in the media? Have you seen reports of this immense effort in the news? I surely haven’t. But it’s going to be profound in its effect, particularly on close races and we all know how many of those there are.

For example, in MI-07 where I live, Congressman Mark Schauer is in a very close race with Tim Walberg, the man he narrowly defeated in 2008. Congressman Schauer knows the value of OFA’s system and he stopped by our office last weekend to rally the troops.

This Saturday, Congressman John Dingell, the Dean of the House, and gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero and his Lt. Governor pick, Brenda Lawrence, will also be stopping by along with a long list of local Democratic candidates.

We will lose some next week and that will be heartbreaking. We will win some next week and that will be a sweet. But, once the dust has settled, I feel confident that we will have won more than people think we’re going to. And it’s going to be, in part, because the Democratic Party, through Organizing for America, the grassroots network started by the Obama for America campaign in 2008, finally figured out how to win elections. I hope you’ll join us.

I’m just sayin’…
One more thing: In 2004 and 2006, the large portion of the people that the Dems contacted prior to the election were categorized as “Strong Dems”. Those were entirely wasted calls and door knocks. Why? Because those people were going to go to the polls anyway. OFA has an entirely different model. We spent the summer and fall contacting people who voted for the first time in 2008 (so-called “surge voters”) and “Sporadic Voters” (people who vote Democratic but don’t typically vote in the midterms.) This is where we can increase turn out and these are NOT people who typically show up as “likely voters”. If we increase their turnout, they can turn the tide in unforeseen ways. Not only that, it increases the likelihood that they will become “Strong Dems” who vote reliably in every election. Brilliant!