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Where is the enthusiasm?

Over the weekend, you may have seen my quick rundown of the deficiencies of Joe Hallett’s article on the Ohio Democratic Party’s dinner event.

Well, there also happened to be another serious problem.

He seems to think a fundraiser with 2,256 Democrats equals enthusiasm among Democrats statewide.

What does he do to back it up? He lists off Chris Redfern’s talking points discussing the large “staff” of ODP employees he has at his disposal to execute a ground game that will win the day.

What a load of malarkey.


Four important points about organization and enthusiasm.

1) The ODP does things a little differently than the Republicans. Rather than every campaign worker on each statewide, congressional, and other campaign being paid by that individual campaign, they collect them all into one basket at the ODP. This includes everyone from campaign managers, to paid canvassers, to operatives funded by over $1.1 million from the DNC and DGA. According to Redfern, this means his “staff” is far larger than the ORP, and in turn, provides the Democrats with an unbeatable ground game. Well, I have news for Mr. Redfern, if we added up the equivalent for the GOP, we’d have the same, or possibly even more paid staff on the ground. And we don’t have to buy our canvassers.

2) As Hallett mentioned in the article, Democrats think their ground game will win the day:

Despite an adverse political climate and the historical midterm-election jinx for the party in power, Ohio Democrats think they can win Nov.2 on the strength of their organization.

“We’ve been building this thing here for the past five years,” said Doug Kelly, the state party’s executive director. “We’re organized in every single county and community across the state with an ongoing, sustained presence. We have a committed, dedicated core group of people.”

Interesting. Why? Because this article focusing about Ohio ran in the New York Times in 2006:

It went on to say:

Voter intensity is a critical element in politics, especially in midterm elections, when Americans’ interest and turnout are typically much lower than in a presidential election year. Pollsters say enthusiasm among Democrats is particularly high this year — significantly higher, by several important measures, than the intensity of Republicans.

Republican strategists counter that they can compensate for any gap in enthusiasm with their legendary get-out-the-vote operation. The party has built its electoral success in the last two elections on identifying and producing nearly every obtainable Republican vote at the polls; this time may be more challenging, they say, but no different.

Sounds familiar, eh?

Anyone remember what happened in 2006? Thought so.

3) The GOP GOTV machine is better than ever, and already outperforming Democrats.

How do we know? The Ohio Democrats bragged that their first massive statewide grassroots voter contact effort reached 10,000 Ohioans.

How many did Republicans reach in their first organized equivalent? 63,000 phone contacts and 5,000 doors knocked.

That’s a 7-1 ratio. So much for Dem grassroots superiority.

4) While having an organization is nice, and getting 2,200 to a fundraiser is inspiring to Chairman Redfern, by no stretch does that infer enthusiasm across the base.

And Democratic voters simply aren’t enthused.

The latest poll from Gallup showed 22% of Democrats are “very enthusiastic” to vote. Republicans are twice that. And we’re supposed to believe Ohio is an outlier from these results?

If so, wouldn’t we see that in other poll results? After all, it’s safe to say voter enthusiasm for an incumbent would be reflected in polls gauging job approval and direction of the state. If someone can’t wait to vote, they can’t wait to vote for someone they approve of, right?

But poll results across the board show that’s not the case.

From the Democratic PPP polling firm, 40% of those who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 do not approve of the job Ted Strickland has done. Broken down by Party, 39% of Democrats feel the same way. For an incumbent Democrat who has been in office for four years and is well known across the state, those numbers within the base are astounding.

What about Quinnipiac?

In their last poll we learned:

  • 59% of Dems are satisfied with the direction of the state.
  • 54% of Democrats don’t believe Ted kept his campaign promises.
  • 46% of Dems don’t approve of his handling of the economy.

And we’re supposed to believe these Democrats are enthusiastic to get to the polls?

Incumbent elections are referendums. The base needs to want to vote for the guy they put in office four years ago. And right now there is no indication of that happening.

At best, Redfern’s best hope is that these discouraged Democrats will stay home rather than pull the lever for the alternative. And that’s not the kind of enthusiasm that wins elections.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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