(Rove 101: A series reporting on the tactics and talking points of the Grand Ol' Propagandists.)
The GOP 'Get-Out-The-Vote' Gambit
WHAT IT IS: A tactic that the GOP is using to discredit polls that show Democrats in front.
WHAT IT DOES: Allegedly, the rationale is that, because of the massive GOP 'get-out-the-vote' machine, a Democrat has to be leading by at least 5% in the polls to be able to beat a GOP challenger. This will, of course, be used as the explanation if, on election day, results show the GOP has performed much better than the polls actually showed.
For those who think that hackable voting machines with no paper trails are a problem, this tactic should be of prime concern, because it will be used to cut the legs out from people who challenge results that are contradictory to polling numbers.
WHO USES IT: GOP spokespeople and their enablers in the media.
Unfortunately, this RNC talking point has become a regular part of the language of allegedly non-partisan news outlets. In today's continuous pre-election coverage on MSNBC, for example, the anchors were referring to it as 'fact' even more often than the GOP spokespeople.
The vaunted Republican Get-Out-The-Vote machine is credited with President Bush's victory in 2004. And Republicans are hoping it will play a similar role in this year's congressional elections. Democrats are fighting back, but will it be enough?
From the Rocky Mountain News:
The Republicans are counting on that precision for their best get-out-the-vote results ever.
"We've seen a get-out-the-vote program move an election five percentage points," Jones said. "That's out of the norm. But if you don't think I'm oiling the machine to overperform, you're crazy."
Steve Welchert, adviser to O'Donnell's Democratic rival Ed Perlmutter, says the Republican machine is particularly troubling this year when a presidential race isn't on the ballot to drive more voters to the polls.
"If it's usually worth three points, it might be worth 4 1/2 points this time," he said. "It keeps us up nights at the Perl-mutter campaign."
Prior to 2000, Democrats were known as the party that could come from behind in the final stretch.
From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Republican expertise in microtargeting is credited with helping reelect President Bush two years ago. This year, advisers to embattled Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) say that the party's high-tech turnout machine can bring him victory if the race with Democrat Bob Casey Jr. tightens.
"I truly believe we can move our numbers 4 to 5 points on Election Day," said Vince Galko, Santorum's campaign manager.
THE PROBLEM WITH IT:
It's not necessarily true and it is being sold as truth.
Whether or not the GOP is better at getting out the vote, current polls are all showing far more 'passion' when it comes to Democrats and our prospects. A perfect example of this is the 2-1 margin by which voters 'strongly' disapprove of the president, as opposed to those who 'strongly' approve.
It has been emphasized repeatedly in the media that the GOP base is demoralized and hardly enthusiastic.
Conversely, continuing lack of representation has made this election a rallying point for Democrats of all stripes.
The problem is not necessarily that Democrats can't rally the troops, the problem is that the GOP has laid out a minefield for voters in Democratic districts.
There have been repeated instances of voter disenfranchisement, where people have had to stand on line for hours, in heavily Democratic districts (remember Ohio?).
Has there been any similar problem in traditional GOP polling places, that resulted in equivalent long lines?
The GOP has trotted out the story about their great 'machine' to explain discrepancies between poll numbers and results in the last 2 election cycles.
By the way, for those who would like more complete specifics on GOP attempts to frustrate Dems from voting, I link to useful sources here.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:
1) Take the GOP at face value and vote. Encourage your friends, family and co-workers to do the same.
2) Volunteer in the final days to help the get-out-the-vote effort in your area.
3) Challenge the media assumptions on talk shows and in letters to newspapers. Ask why instances of Democratic voter disenfranchisment, or instances where results did not match EXIT polls have raised no eyebrows. In your letters and calls, encourage others to vote.
4) Especially, if the results do not come close to matching 'exit' polls, challenge them. And challenge the results loudly.
Some may consider this to be the imaginings of a conspiracy theorist, but I fully believe that this tactic may be the first salvo to get the fix in. If the GOP can convince the public that election polls are really that far off, Diebold and friends have an easier time working their magic.
Do not let them.