Here's the problem:
There is the America that votes in presidential elections, which has helped Democrats win the popular vote in five out of the last six cycles and supports the view that Hillary Clinton can continue that streak should she run. Then there is the America that votes more regularly, casting ballots in both presidential and midterm years, which led to the Republican wave in 2010 and gives its party’s leaders reason to be so sanguine about their odds this time around.This is from an article by Sasha Issenberg, a fellow at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs in The New Republic. Our problem is really simple, too many of the people who support us in presidential elections just don't vote in midterm elections. The solution to the problem is far more complicated, but very much within our grasp.
There are about 127 million people in that first category, and among their number is the ascendant coalition—young and diverse, urban and mobile—that now gives Democrats a huge advantage in presidential races. But only 78 million of those people, or about 40 percent of the country’s voting-age population, belong to the group that goes to the polls every two years, and those regular voters carry a considerably more conservative cast. (The number of unregistered voters is almost as large.)
They've defined a class of voter which they call "The Rising American Electorate".
The Rising American Electorate (RAE) –The RAE voters voted 67-32 for Obama in 2012, while the non-RAE voters voted 63-35 for Romney in 2012. Now here's what the expected drop of voters from 2012 looks like.
Unmarried Women, Youths (ages 18-29), African Americans, Latnos, and all other non-white races now accounts for more than half of the votng eligible populaton in this country (53.5%).
Unmarried Women 18-29 Year Olds African Americans Latinos Other Race
25.6% 21.2% 12.5% 10.8% 6.8%
64.1% of drop-off voters are members of the Rising American Electorate.Ok, we know what the problem is, but can we do anything about it? You bet we can! But it's going to take a lot of volunteers and it's going to take a new approach. Getting our people to the voting booth takes a lot more than simply making a phone call on election day and begging them to go vote. And it involves a lot more than knocking on their door and talking issues or telling the RAE voter we are angels and those other creeps are all devils.
• RAE Voter drop-off: Est. 21.8 million votes
• Non-RAE Voter drop-off: Est. 12.2 million votes
• Total drop-off: Est. 34 million votes
It truly is a science now and they've made some real progress on getting people to the voting booth. It takes a lot of work and money, but it's an effort and a dollar spent that can make the difference between President Obama getting many more judicial appointments approved, or having a bunch more Benghazi and IRS hearings for the next 2 years in the Senate.
Here's more of what Sasha Issenberg has to say about the process.
In their book The Gamble, George Washington University’s John Sides and UCLA’s Lynn Vavreck demonstrated that the persuasiveness of TV ads aired during the 2012 election dissipated within a day; after five days, it had worn off entirely.I find this rather fascinating, but not all that unexpected. If you live in a highly contested district in a highly contested state, with a couple of issues on the ballot, you are going to be constantly bombarded with TV and radio Ad's from Senate, Gubernatorial, house rep, local reps, and issue ads, and add to this the local car salesman who is trying to ride the election season with a funny ad about politics. These Ad's are coming so quickly it's hard to remember what the last Ad was about, much less who sponsored it.
So GOTV may deliver more bang for the buck than flooding the airwaves with TV Ads, but what do we need to do?
...How many times have you asked yourself, how can some of the people in a state like Wisconsin go out and vote for Obama and Baldwin in one election, and then stay home in the next and let all the potential gains get reversed? What's wrong with these people? I have to admit that I'm like many people here and am a political junkie that can't understand why everyone isn't deeply involved in politics. So if these people aren't political junkies, why would we talk politics to them like they are?
Experiment after experiment has since confirmed the effectiveness of subtle prods that trigger what Rogers has called a citizen’s “basic need for belonging.” Addressing the recipient as “a voter” or “the type of person who votes” (a message born of a theory known as identity salience) produces a small increase in turnout. So does asking people to commit to a plan for when, where, and how they will vote (implementation intentions). Emphasizing that many other people will vote in an upcoming election (social-norms theory) has been proven more effective than bemoaning those who don’t show up.
In 2010, the America Votes consortium planned to send 800,000 pieces of mail in targeted congressional districts. Rogers, working with his colleague John Ternovski, randomized those letters so that half featured the proven language and half included that message plus an additional sentence in the upper right-hand corner: “You may be called after the election to discuss your experience at the polls.” (A control group received no mail at all.) Rogers and Ternovski were testing the potential of a new concept—self-integrity—by threatening accountability for potential voters who valued civic engagement. Their simple adjustment increased the letter’s impact by more than 50 percent and generated about 1,500 votes across the experiment.
Such results undercut the popular belief that Unreliable voters are driven to the polls by passion—either about a given candidate or the general political climate. Pollsters imbue this so-called intensity gap with near-prophetic powers: In mid-October 2012, for instance, the Politico–George Washington University Battleground Poll reported that Republicans led Democrats by a ten-point margin among those calling themselves “extremely likely” to turn out. But that didn’t prevent Obama’s reelection, of course. Similar findings about this year’s midterms (Battleground has Republicans up by seven points in the enthusiasm category now) will likewise reveal little about the returns come November.People cast ballots for reasons that have nothing to do with their excitement level. For Unreliable voters, specifically, it often takes a psychologically potent encounter to jolt them out of complacency.
As the above article explains, these people aren't going to react to a deep discussion of any issues, or a begging explanation of how important the election is. Many of the RAE's might not even know who there House Rep is, or can name 2 members of the Supreme Court. They simply don't have the interest or maybe the time, to be as involved in politics as we are. But the one thing they do know is, the Republicans suck, and the Democrats are no angels but they're a hell of a lot better than the Republicans. So when they walk in that voting booth every presidential election, they're going to pull that lever for the Democrats.
The REA's view politics at a more gut level and that's how the new approach to GOTV gets them to the polls. By using techniques like “basic need for belonging”, "identity salience", and "implementation intentions", we talk to these voters at the gut level they approach politics with. These techniques can be wrapped in simple phone messages, talking points, or lit drops and mailings. It's a 21st century approach toward 21st century voters.
This diary is getting a bit on the long side, but there's a lot more to know about the science of GOTV. If you're wondering if the Democratic leadership knows about these advancements in getting people to vote, the answer is yes.
The Democrats have something they call The Bannock Street Project.
It runs through 10 states, includes a $60 million investment and requires more than 4,000 paid staff members. And the effort will need all of that — and perhaps more — to achieve its goal, which is nothing short of changing the character of the electorate in a midterm cycle.Changing the very character of the electorate. When you poll the entire public, they overwhelming support progressive policies, and they strongly support Democratic candidates. When you poll registered voters, the Democrats win by a smaller margin but enough to make some real changes. When you count the votes on election day, the Democrats have to fight tooth and nail to pull out small victories.
If everyone voted, we would be living in a very different country. Bad things happen, when good people don't vote.
GOTV! GOTV! GOTV! GOTV!