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Early Voters and Obama’s Unbeatable Ground Game

In a post yesterday, I suggested that the GOP had essentially leveled the playing field in terms of organizing infrastructure since 2008, when the Obama campaign completely outclassed them. So I was a little surprised to read this Sasha Issenberg piece from yesterday afternoon that more or less makes the opposite claim, that the President still enjoys a big advantage in terms of targeting voters and getting them to the polls (TAC’s review of his latest book here).

Issenberg’s main gripe is that many new conservative get-out-the-vote groups are using the same old technologies and targeting strategies that were available in 2008. He may be right that they’re less sophisticated, but I think the argument that the GOP has leveled the organizing playing field rests more on enterprises outside of parties or campaigns. Groups like Americans for Prosperity, which shored up Scott Walker in the Wisconsin recall election. As those have proliferated on the right since 2008, the activist left has either faded away (they certainly don’t talk about war anymore) or been consolidated into the Democratic Party. It just seems a bit myopic to claim a massive Democratic targeting advantage by comparing the targeting algorithms of the two campaigns.

A huge part of the Obama campaign’s strategy has involved encouraging voters to turn out early. The President and First Lady both touted doing so themselves–Barack in person, the first sitting president to do so, and Michelle by mail. The latter called early voting the campaign’s “secret weapon.” But check out the new Gallup poll giving Romney a six point edge among early voters.

Alana Goodman writes:

The Gallup poll is national, and the Obama campaign will probably argue it’s the early voters in swing states that matter. But signs aren’t good for Obama in Ohio early voting, either, at least compared to his 2008 record. At Politico, Adrian Gray writes:

I have always been a believer in data telling me the full story. Truth is, nobody knows what will happen on Election Day. But here is what we do know: 220,000 fewer Democrats have voted early in Ohio compared with 2008. And 30,000 more Republicans have cast their ballots compared with four years ago. That is a 250,000-vote net increase for a state Obama won by 260,000 votes in 2008.

Could it be that Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts aren’t as unbeatable as we’re told?

It’s just one poll, and Politico reads it as a draw, but it goes against the conventional wisdom that early voting is an unmitigated advantage for Democrats. Elsewhere, Bloomberg cites a small Republican lead in Colorado.

about the author

Arthur Bloom is the former editor of The American Conservative online. He was previously deputy editor of the Daily Caller and a columnist for the Catholic Herald. He holds masters degrees in urban planning and American studies from the University of Kansas. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Spectator (UK), The Guardian, Quillette, The American Spectator, Modern Age, and Tiny Mix Tapes.

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