I had some quality time walking door-to-door recently in NY20 to think about most Republican campaigns approach to GOTV. “Most” is a broad statement and I realize many of you work campaigns in areas where some of the theories I will discuss are not relevant. It is also important to consider the myriad of variables that affect a GOTV operation in preparation and execution.
So, just for the sake of conversation, we were talking about a general election where turnout was expected to be between 50-55%. You could take the approach that in a district where you had a partisan registration advantage it would be all about base R turnout (assuming your candidate is winning most of the R’s). Let’s say had already done your homework and had identified about 15% of the independents as favorable (presumably by a combination of volunteer and paid efforts). Let us also make another assumption that your candidate has a reasonable amount of local volunteers, Generation Joshua kids and maybe a few out-of-state partisans to execute your GOTV plan.
Lets say you had a 5 day GOTV plan laid out (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Election day). What to consider next-
· You would sort precincts into walkable and non-walkable for your door-to-door.
· Locations for phone banks. Keep in mind that the best place for phone banks is WHERE the volunteers are and probably not WHERE the press is. This would explain why some of the best GOTV phone bank centers are not at the Campaign HQ.
· Lists. Have you been using voter vault or something else? Make sure you have easy access and can print new lists and conduct new sorts based on a changing political situation.
· Campaign literature, paper, pens, clipboards, etc. When and where will you print these thousands of sheets of paper for calls and doors? FLS has great walkbook product I like that prints the list on card stock paper with a corresponding map. Of course if you have the volunteer resources you can just do it yourself with some card stock paper and 3 ring binders. Regardless if you pay for it or do it yourself I would strongly suggest a reusable book system that allows a volunteer to make notes and improve the list as they go.
· Food, stickers, t-shirts, etc. Have enough to keep your volunteers motivated but not so much that it is more than 15% of your total GOTV budget.
Then would take your list of R’s and favorable Independents and put them into 3 groups, A’s, B’s and C’s.
· A’s will be our rockstars who vote in EVERY election no matter what.
· B’s are our Presidential voters who often skip primaries and off year elections.
· C’s are our new registrants and least likely voters.
Assuming we have enough lines and volunteers we will start with C universe on Friday. When complete we will then call the B’s and C’s. When that is done we will call the A’s B’s and C’s. So our weakest voters will get 3 touches and our strongest one.
For door-to-door let’s assume that we can get people to drink the Kool-Aid and do multiple shifts over the 5 days. Ideally we would pair local volunteers with out-of town ones to prevent mistakes and getting lost. Then on Friday when they began going door-to-door they will be keeping the same list document over the course of each day.
· So if Bob the local volunteer is paired up with Heather the out-of-town volunteer on Friday they walk their precinct keeping notes on who they talked to, who needs an extra push (maybe even a call from the candidate) and who has already voted early or absentee. They also touch base at the phonebank to see who called their precinct and compare notes.
· On Saturday Bob coaches football and has to cut his grass so Heather from out of town is paired with someone else but she now has the list and first hand experience with the precinct.
· Sunday Bob is back with Heather as they continue looking to contact people they missed on Friday and Saturday. They are now gliding thru the precinct efficiently skipping the hostiles and touch base again with the undecideds.
· Monday Bob has to work but Heather is still on the trail and working with a new volunteer hitting houses and firming up C list voters. Heather is now on a first name basis with some of the voters in their precinct and she has a great list that is full of notes and updates.
· Tuesday Bob is back with Heather with their list in the neighborhood by mid morning. Meanwhile Connie (another local volunteer has been at the polling site for their precinct since it opened. She has kept a list of all who have voted and during lulls she texts their voter ID number to Heather. As Heather and Bob walk the precinct they strike names of those that have voted to improve the efficiency of their list. They are ratcheting up turnout and increasing the GOP margin by a couple of points.
At this point of course I have only covered the traditional methods. I would assume that emails, texts, Facebook events etc are going on concurrently with this operation. The important thing to remember is that
Most GOTV operations I have seen have failed not because of lack of volunteers or lack of cash but lack of thorough planning. All of the things I have covered are not rocket science or overly complex they just require planning and follow thru.
On Tuesday this week as I headed to grab a coke on a break between precincts I happened to drive by the community center where the precinct was voting. I saw a man walking in that I had woken up from his nap. While talking to him at his door I clearly got the impression that voting was not a priority today. To see him walking into those doors to vote made all my work worth it. When Jim Tedisco is sworn into Congress later this month it will REALLY be worth it.