What Republicans Face

A case can be made that state-level politics will offer Republicans rare glimmers of good news on election night. When you think about the few ...
by | October 16, 2008

Obama_vols_2 A case can be made that state-level politics will offer Republicans rare glimmers of good news on election night. When you think about the few governor's races that were considered at all competitive this year, the GOP still has high hopes.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, once considered vulnerable, looks to me like a certain winner. So does Vermont's Jim Douglas -- his Democratic opponent is now polling third, as Josh pointed out. Money is still coming in nicely for Dino Rossi out in Washington State, who finished just behind Gov. Christine Gregoire in the recent all-party primary balloting. And Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory is running ahead of both McCain and Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina; as that state tightens up, he has a very good shot at winning after 16 years of Democratic control.

For Democrats, their one real chance at a pickup remains Missouri.

Having said all that, the presidential race is clearly going to have an impact on down-ballot voting, particularly in less visible state legislative contests. And here you have to say that Democrats have all the advantages. Obama may not win the electoral landslide that polls have him on track for, but his voter registration efforts and his get out the vote operations are clearly going to help fellow party members.

We're just starting to see media portrayals of what the Obama ground game looks like as it shifts from registration to turnout.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com today describes how people who show up at Obama events are not just exhorted to contact four or 40 of their friends, but are given practical guidance about how to do so and what to say:

When local field organizer Christian Lund took the stage just prior to Joe Biden's appearance on Tuesday night in Marietta, he asked those in the attendant crowd of about 4,000 to look at the sheets in their hands. Each sheet held four names, and each name had a phone number and a bar code for later data scanning. Lund asked the people in the crowd to make four phone calls to this targeted group, and then he demonstrated.

Zack Exley's piece at HuffingtonPost about the "new organizers" has gotten considerable around the political blogosphere:

In 2004, it was unusual for volunteers to have persistent roles and responsibilities--both at the Kerry campaign and the independent field operation Americans Coming Together. That is the norm for electoral organizing campaigns, and perhaps organizing in general these days. In contrast, the Obama neighborhood team members are organizers themselves, sometimes working more or less as staff alongside the young FOs.

But the most striking thing I've read along these lines was at The Debatable Land:

I spent a little bit of time at the Obama state HQ in Columbus yesterday.  It was jaw dropping.  They had taken over an old mega-church.  The first floor was a warren of staffers running around all very young and all very busy. The basement was probably the size of a supermarket, lined with table after table.  Each table was staffed by four youngsters, all responsible for a different city, county, task etc.  It looked like the command center for a massive army.  No windows, no natural light, but filled with kids who probably had no idea it was 8am all hovering over computers, maps, data sheets.  There were 600 staffers there, all dedicated to Ohio, at 8am.  I'm amazed.

By contrast, McCain pulled out of Michigan what seems like a long time ago now, the Republican National Committee has pulled out of Wisconsin and Maine and the GOP House and Senate campaign committees are dropping ads in races in Louisiana, Nevada, Kansas, Florida and Texas.


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