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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Getting Out the Vote in Safe Precincts

At National Review Online, Jim Geraghty writes:
The opening section of yesterday’s Jolt was urging Republicans to experiment with getting out the vote in the special elections coming up this year; with most of the races in districts that lean heavily to one party or the other, it’s unlikely any botched experiment would blow a 50-50 race. (If you didn’t receive it, you can read it on Campaign Spot here.)
In response, Morning Jolt reader John E. wrote in:
Appreciated your article today. It brought to mind something I observed in the Presidential election in my neck of the woods. My “neck of the woods” is a county in the Alabama-like Florida Panhandle. John McCain took 72% here and Mitt Romney got 75%. And yet, in 2012, the Obama people had an office in our small town (I think it was donated space), and there was an identifiable presence with signs, bumper stickers and such. In other words, the Obama supporters did not throw up their hands and ignore this area, even though they knew it was hopeless here. Still, their efforts may have squeezed out a few more votes for their candidate. And if you multiply that over several counties in Dixie-ish north Florida, well, you know the state was close and every vote counted.
Indeed; 74,309 votes, or one percentage point, in Florida.
The basic idea isn't new.  In One-Party Country: The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century (a quaint title), Tom Hamburder and Peter Wallsten wrote:
Instead of educating voters about Bush, Rove worked at educating himself and his staff about voters-and about how to target them with narrowly cast appeals. One could ask why it mattered if a handful of Jews in Cleveland or Latinos in Orlando or labor union members in West Virginia voted for Bush. The answer was the Republicans ability to send custom-tailored messages to relatively small numbers of voters inside Democratic precincts in swing states enabled them to slice away pieces of the enemy’s base. Each slice might seem inconsequential standing alone, but taken together the slices might add up to something very consequential. (p. 140)