In the first of a series of massive volunteer mobilization efforts, the campaign and the Republican Party will undertake "Super Saturday," a day when GOP volunteers call and canvass hundreds of thousands of swing-state voters, just as they will before Nov. 6.
The goal is not just to know which voters are on board with Romney, but to test the presidential campaign's ability to turn out the vote — something the GOP struggled with in 2008.
"It's a way for us to stress-test the network," said Rick Wiley, political director for the RNC, which is running the voter contact effort jointly with the Romney campaign.
The results will be tracked in real time through software applications that allow volunteers to enter information into their cellphones on the voter's doorstep.
Information from phone calls is also recorded. A "dashboard" allows Wiley and campaign staff to monitor results as they happen.
"We learn a lot about what our volunteers are capable of doing. As we get into the fall, there's a ton of voters to cover," said Dave Kochel, Romney's Iowa consultant. "More than testing specific messages, we're testing the effectiveness of our organization."
The GOP will run these Saturday tests once a month. The information is used as the campaign progresses to guide decisions such as where to deploy volunteers, where to focus early-voting turnout efforts, and which areas have the most undecided voters.
In 2008, Republicans lacked funds for get-out-the-vote programs. "Our base wasn't as motivated to win that election as it should have been," Kochel said.
(...) In 2008, Republicans made 28 million voter contacts, Wiley said. That jumped to 44 million in 2010, a number that he says this year's effort will exceed.