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  • October 2010
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Polling Notes

I have buried myself in pulling as much information as I can about what we can expect in the general election next month. There are a lot of issues involved and there’s no way to cover everything except through chunking. Hopefully it’s not too disorganized.

-When it comes to midterm elections, there is a question of turnout. While about two thirds of eligible voters vote in presidential election years, only 30-40% show up in the midterm elections. That means 1 in 3 voters who regularly vote for president don’t vote in the midterms. The great GOTV (Get Out The Vote) revolution in the GOP was learning that those people can be pestered into voting, if you create solid lists and keep them up to date. The question is, does the GOP have the GOTV infrastructure they have enjoyed in the past (2000/2002/2004).

– All indications are the official GOP GOTV effort has been underfunded, underutilized, undermanned and completely forgotten this year. The general attitude has been that a big GOTV effort is unnecessary thanks to the enthusiasm (and enthusiasm gap) on the right combined with the spontaneous organizing provided by the teaparty movement. On the other hand, the left has maintained their GOTV infrastructure, they are investing heavily in it and they have a plan to continue face to face voter outreach up to election day.

-Anecdotally, I have seen fewer pieces of literature, less grassroots campaigning and overall less campaign work from local campaigns than I have seen in the past. But, there are also lots of yard signs up, about as many as I’m used to seeing.

-Polling and predicting voter turnout is tough. From what I’ve gathered, the best way to poll turnout is to ask about frustration. A frustrated opposition votes, frustrated supporters don’t. And a large plurality of people who supported Obama and the Dems in ’06 and ’08 are frustrated. So we can expect, despite the GOTV efforts from the left, voter turnout will favor the Republicans.

-I also predict overall turnout will be high. The highest midterm voter turnout was in 1982. Considering the economic similarity, I expect it is a good proxy. Reagan lost 27 Republican Congressmen in this election.

-It also important to know there is little or no “coat-tail” effect in politics. The guys on top of the ballot do not help those at the bottom. It’s just the opposite, the bottom helps the top tremendously. Who does this help? I don’t know. I think it helps the GOP.

-After looking at all this information, it’s clear it would take a geological shift to stop the Republicans for making tremendous gains everywhere. What kind of gains to expect in Minnesota? That’s something for another post.

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