The Wall Street Journal:
Before heading out to register voters, a group of Obama campaign volunteers gets a pep talk and some last minute advice.
“Ask everybody,’’ a young aide tells them on a recent weekend.
Everybody means everybody.
Should they meet someone who can’t vote due to a felony conviction, they’re told to give contact information for a community organizing group that works to get voting rights restored.
“We’re going to do this one by and one,’’ says the aide.
Once again, the Obama high command is making a big bet on their ground operation. The aim is to flood the zone: open up offices in battleground states, call undecided voters, and swarm the shopping malls to register as many people as possible. In this way, Democrats hope to neutralize the Republican super PAC advantage by out-registering and out-working the GOP on the streets.
“We believe we have an absolute advantage on the ground,’’ Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in an interview.
But Republicans believe the Obama ground game isn’t the fearsome force it used to be. They point to electoral setbacks that Democrats have endured in the years since team Obama built its grassroots network.
Wisconsin, for one.
Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, said the Wisconsin recall should have been an easy “layup’’ for Democrats given that the party had been busing in “every hippie liberal and union thug’’ to help oust Scott Walker, a Republican. Mr. Walker won handily.
“What’s the proof they can mobilize?’’ Mr. Spicer said.
Voter-registration figures show some softness on the Democratic side, suggesting the Obama ground game has work to do.
Third Way, a centrist think tank, has been studying registration trends in eight battleground states. The group released a report in May showing that since 2008, independent registration has been rising. Meantime, Republican registration has dropped by 157,000 in these states; Democratic registration by 841,000. Neither party’s brand has been faring all that well.