Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Conventional Wisdom of voter turnout.

The GOP throws it out the window.

The CW on voter turnout is large turnout favors Democrats. In fact in the past typically if a Democrat was within 5% points of their Republican challenger the Dem won. Why? Last minute voter turnout aka "Get out the vote" (GOTV) favored the Dems due to labor unions. Many unions have bargained election day off into their contracts and use that already organized force to perform last minute get out the vote operations. Many Republicans also IMO disdain this work as being contrary to a battle of beliefs.

The CW on 2000 was the President was cruising to a comfortable win then the press busted the OWI October Surprise at the last moment. I don't buy it anymore, it was a reflection of Dem GOTV operations.

President Bush and his team knew in order to win again the GOP would have to come up with an effective GOTV operation. They created their operation modeled on smaller operations in multitudes of other races (e.g. Scott Walker's campaign to become Milwaukee County Executive is frequently cited as a great example of GOTV operations) and developed the 72 Hour Task force.

In the run up to the election the 72 Hour Task Force was one reason I told the President's supporters not to worry. It was based on two observations.

The polls right before the election were in favor of the President by at most 2% points at any time. Now many people say "margin of error" (MOE) it is a tie. While I am no statistics expert my math and physics background and experience tell me, one poll taken by itself you need to look at the results and give the MOE a lot more consideration. When poll after poll starts coming out nearly the same (as they were at the end) then you can start to believe it is an actual result despite the MOE, that is to say the poll measurements on the end despite being MOE-tied were showing the actual state of the electorate (which is what Tuesday's official poll states). To summarize I believed the end of campaign polls to be pretty accurate even before yesterday's results.

How does the 72 Hour Task force fit into this? Recall above where I say in previous elections we needed to be ahead by 5% or more to win due to the Democratic GOTV machinery. In this election the GOP had a nationwide organized GOTV effort. From my view inside my corner of the Bush re-election committee here in Outagamie County I could see this was the real deal. In fact Donna Brazile Gore's 2000 presidential campaign manager saw this coming. She said the GOP was not organizing down to the precinct level but to the block level. A bit of a stretch but not too much so.

I believed the 72 Hour Task Force would at worst make Republican vs. Democrat GOTV a wash. In fact from the anectdotal evidence I would say nationally speaking GOP GOTV effort smashed the Dem efforts. I hear there was 90% turnout in Waukesha County, I hear GOP GOTV in Western Ohio made all the difference in Ohio.

Retail politics if you truly believe in your parties values you will engage in it.