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Sunday, September 23, 2012

GOP Voter Contact

Some recent articles have discussed high-tech voter contact efforts for Romney and the GOP.  But will they be enough to counter the other side?

The New York Times looks at the return of Ralph Reed:
Three years ago, Mr. Reed formed the Faith and Freedom Coalition and began assembling what he calls the largest-ever database of reliably conservative religious voters. In the coming weeks, he says, each of those 17.1 million registered voters in 15 key states will receive three phone calls and at least three pieces of mail. Seven million of them will get e-mail and text messages. Two million will be visited by one of more than 5,000 volunteers. Over 25 million voter guides will be distributed in 117,000 churches.
To identify religious voters most likely to vote Republican, the group used 171 data points.
It acquired megachurch membership lists. It mined public records for holders of hunting or boating licenses, and warranty surveys for people who answered yes to the question “Do you read the Bible?” It determined who had downloaded conservative-themed books, like “Going Rogue” by Sarah Palin, onto their e-readers, and whether those people also drove pickup trucks. It drilled down further, looking for married voters with children, preferably owners of homes worth more than $100,000.
Finally, names that overlapped at least a dozen or so data points were overlaid with voting records to yield a database with the addresses and, in many cases, e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers of the more than 17 million faith-centric registered voters — not just evangelical Protestants but also Mass-attending Catholics. The group is also reaching out to nearly two million more people who have never registered to vote.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution adds:
Reed has taken data from consumer marketers and the Republican National Committee, mixed with his own files from the George W. Bush campaigns — when Reed helped Bush court social conservatives — and the Christian Coalition. FFC narrowed its efforts primarily to voters in presidential swing states. It will contact each of them between seven and 12 times – a text message, a call, an email, a postcard, a knock on the door.
When early voting begins in each swing state, FFC’s targeted voters will each get a text message telling them to vote, and the message links to a map for smartphone users showing them where their early voting site is.
“Not everybody in a church is going to vote Republican; not everybody in the most conservative evangelical church is going to vote Republican, for a variety of reasons,” said Sasha Issenberg, journalist and author of “The Victory Lab,” a new book about the science of campaigns. “So this type of politics is always a game of margins, we have just gotten a lot better. The most advanced tools have made us a lot better about shrinking the margins that you’re playing with." 
The Washington Post reports:
In the key battleground states, Obama’s celebrated network of organizing experts and neighborhood captains is being challenged by a conservative coalition that includes the National Rifle Association, the billionaire-backed Americans for Prosperity and a newly muscular College Republicans organization with a $16 million budget.
The conservative groups “are fully funded and ready for hand-to-hand combat,” said Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic organizer.

Rosenthal co-founded the Atlas Project, which is tracking voter statistics and other data to guide Democratic groups as they design precinct-level voter-outreach strategies. He describes the Obama operation as “second to none,” but in reviewing data in recent weeks, he has grown alarmed by what he views as a successful years-long campaign on the right that could alter the landscape.