The Republican grass-roots army of campaign volunteers who engineered the party’s successful 2004 voter-turnout drive is being redeployed in battleground states for this year’s midterm House and Senate elections, say senior party strategists.
Only this time, the voter-identification, registration and Election Day turnout effort, which the Republican National Committee (RNC) reactivated quietly last year, is using state-of-the-art “micro-targeting” technology to thwart the Democrats’ offensive to win control of Congress.
The operation comes at a time when most polls show voters giving President Bush and congressional Republicans poor job-approval scores and election analysts predicting that Democrats will make gains this fall in Congress and the governorships.
The grass-roots effort reactivates a well-trained ground force of political volunteers — that eventually will number in the millions — who have been sending in weekly reports on the number of new Republican voters identified and registered in key races through a vast e-mail network linking Republican Party organizations.
“Every single week our volunteers make tens of thousands of contacts with targeted voters,” said a senior Republican official who detailed the operation for The Washington Times but did not want to be identified.
RNC officials declined to talk in specifics about the voter-turnout effort that has been operating since the summer, but political director Mike DuHaime confirmed that “the organization is certainly in place, and we’re moving forward.”
However, a senior party operative who is intimately involved in the program described a large and growing volunteer force that is given a set number of goals that have to be met each week.
“There are a certain number of doors to be knocked on, new Republicans to be identified and registered and our volunteers have to meet those goals,” the operative said.
Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee are among the states that the Republican Party’s volunteer operation will target, the official told The Times.
In addition, Republicans have “active organizations on the ground, meaning paid staff, in more than two dozen states,” he said.
Republican strategists familiar with the renewed outreach effort say that historically, Republican voters tend to turn out in larger numbers than the Democrats in midterm elections.
“In midterm elections, less than 50 percent of eligible voters turn out to vote, so it will depend which ones they are and getting your voters to the polls in large enough numbers,” he said.
Party strategists at the state level are similarly enthused by the RNC’s voter operation.
“The Republicans have invested tremendous resources and energy in their turnout model so that they know who to target and what messages work with voters,” said campaign consultant John Brabender.