Organizing For America — October 2, 2010 at 5:48 pm

RNC dials back GOTV, DNC ramps UP thanks to OFA!


Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

A Yahoo News Blog entry reports that the RNC is dialing back on its GOTV efforts due to a lack of funds.

[T]he RNC has decided to end the long-standing practice of sending congressional staffers into hotly contested districts to make contacts with voters and assist the GOP’s midterm election efforts. A spokesman for the RNC says the program isn’t “cost-effective” and the party plans to spend its money on other get-out-the-vote efforts, like mailing fliers to voters’ homes.

That’s awesome and everything but there’s a deeper story here, one I think is going on quietly, undercover, and which will impact this election in ways that aren’t on many folks’ radar:

Organizing for America (OFA), the DNC’s grassroots GOTV wing, is not only NOT dialing back, it’s ramping up. Even as we speak. And lack of funds won’t ever really be an issue because, with the exception of a handful of staffers in each state, OFA is a true grassroots effort.

The RNC is sending out flyers. OFA is training thousands upon thousands of volunteers across the country to prepare for a massive four-day get out the vote (GOTV, or as casperr calls it, GOTDV!) Saturday, October 30th through Election will be 12+ hour exercises in controlled and highly-planned chaos. Even now, we are filling shifts, three each day, for canvassing and phonebanking. All of our efforts that began in early summer to reach out to “surge voters” from 2008, people who voted for the first time ever when they voted for Barack Obama will culminate in these four days. All of the folks whose pledges we have collected, promises to vote on Election Day for Democrats, will be contacted as many as three times that weekend to ensure they have voted.

This morning I attended a 4-hour GOTV training session. The entire weekend is planned down to 4:30 a.m. wake-up calls to key staff and volunteers (like me) each day.

I’m sure you’ve probably seen OFA’s pledge cards. I’ve been working on getting folks to sign them all summer long. In fact, when Dr. Howard Dean was in Ann Arbor recently, I even got HIM to sign one!

Click for a bigger picture

Research shows two things. First, every time we reach out to folks asking for their vote, the likelihood of them actually voting increases by a measurable and significant percentage. Second, first-time voters that return to vote again in the next election two years later are dramatically more likely to become lifetime voters who vote in nearly every election. So, OFA’s approach will pay dividends into the future as well.

In 2004, the DNC’s GOTV efforts were found highly wanting. As many as 80% of the people they contacted were strong Democrats who nearly always vote. Speaking to these people is wasted effort: they will vote anyway.

OFA’s approach of reaching out to surge voters and sporadic voters is much more strategic. It’s smart campaigning and it’s based on motivated volunteers who care about the future of this amazing country.

So when you’re reading about the enthusiasm gap based on polling of “likely voters” keep these two things in mind: Just because someone isn’t “highly enthusiastic” doesn’t mean they won’t vote and sometimes people who aren’t “likely voters” vote anyway. Especially if they are contacted by their friends and neighbors in the way OFA’s massive grassroots network does. Those people won’t show up on any poll of likely voters.

OFA’s impact on this election will be profound but almost nobody is talking about. That’s okay by us. We’ll keep on doing our work and while the RNC is having to publicly admit they are doing less GOTVing this year because of a lack of cash, the DNC is pushing harder than it ever has with a smarter, more effective, more widespread effort than any group has ever had before. And that’s how we’re going to win.

I’m just sayin’…
UPDATE: OFA has an absolutely amazing iPhone app that, get this, allows you to create a canvassing walk list WITH a map and to enter data on the fly as you do your one-person canvass. You have to check this out.

The latest version of the Organizing for America iPhone app is a groundbreaking tool that now provides volunteers everything they need to talk face to face with voters in their neighborhoods about November’s elections.

Get everything you need to canvass in the palm of your hand:

  • Lists of neighbors to talk to
  • Interactive maps
  • Share news, photos, videos, and information right at the door
  • Real-time reporting of how many doors you’ve knocked and how the conversations went

Oh, one more thing: don’t like to call or knock on doors? As we move into the final weeks of GOTV efforts, the amount of data flowing into OFA offices is staggering. There is also and increasing need for folks to show up and help enter this data into the voter database. There are also turfs to be cut for canvassing and call lists to generate for phonebanks. If you don’t like the voter contact stuff but are handy with a keyboard, consider helping out as a data coordinator.