After a big push Saturday, the Republican National Committee says its volunteers will have knocked on 2.5 million doors and contacted voters more than 20 million times this cycle.
This is the RNC’s third monthly “Super Saturday” to mobilize the grassroots and refine the GOP’s get-out-the-vote infrastructure.
Sixty days before the election, coming out of the conventions, Republicans are eager to demonstrate they can match the vaunted field operation of President Barack Obama’s campaign and compete in the ground game.
The RNC has 282 “Victory Centers” and 620 staffers spread across the battleground states.
“Quite frankly, we are just rocking it all over the place,” RNC political director Rick Wiley told POLITICO. “I’ll put my team against their team any day.”
Nationally the RNC reports knocking on 16 times more doors and making eight times more phone calls than at this point in 2008. This weekend they expect to surpass their entire volunteer voter contact totals from 2004.
Volunteers will gather in about 25 states this weekend. This includes 11 presidential battlegrounds, places with competitive Senate races like Montana and North Dakota and non-competitive states with so-called “orphan” House districts that are in play.
Party officials point to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in June’s recall election as evidence that the GOP can win the mobilization war.
“With the barrage of advertising that’s been put up out there, to find ourselves in this position with two months to go…when you’re tied or within a point or two going into voting, a strong ground organization can win things for you,” said Wiley.
The RNC crossed the 10 millionth volunteer “voter contact” on their last Super Saturday at the start of August. They’ve made about 10 million more contacts in the last month.
In key states like Ohio and Iowa, voters can cast absentee ballots this month. Some North Carolinians will receive absentee ballots in the mail as early as Friday. Volunteers can help make sure that likely Republicans send them in.
While a majority of the RNC’s outreach to voters will still be on the phone, they plan to knock on more than 10 million doors by Election Day.
There’s been a renewed emphasis on door-knocking at the RNC this cycle. As more people ditch landlines and use cell phones, only about half the names in their voter file have a reliable phone number linked to them. And with fewer reliable phone numbers, it takes more dials to get a person on the phone. Studies also show door knocking is more effective at increasing turnout and recruiting volunteers than phone calls or mailers.
The RNC coordinates closely with Mitt Romney’s campaign. The RNC has a victory director in every battleground state, and the Romney campaign has a state director. In every targeted state, the two work in the same office.
Wisconsin has 23 victory centers hosting volunteers. Paul Ryan is doing a Google hangout at the Waukesha office.
Iowa, where Romney is campaigning, will put on a sign-painting party in Orange City and a tailgate at the Iowa-Iowa State football game (with a cameo by the Romney campaign bus).
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell holds a Super Saturday rally at the RNC’s Williamsburg office.
A big part of the push is to generate local press coverage, which helps draw in more volunteers.
In Ohio, they’re branding it a “Buckeye Blitz.” Congressman Pat Tiberi will roll out new jobs ad behind a BBQ joint in the Columbus media market. Congressman Steve Austria will have an event in Beavercreek to ensure coverage in the Dayton market. Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou’s press conference at the Kenwood Victory Center will get them on the board in Cincinnati. Congressman Bill Johnson’s appearance at a mall in Steubenville will get visibility on Wheeling TV. Senate candidate Josh Mandel will address volunteers in Avon Lake, Congressman Bob Gibbs will be in Ontario and State Sen. Frank LaRose will be in Wooster. All three offices are in the critical Cleveland market.
Eight New Mexico locations are participating in Super Saturday, for example. Albuquerque TV affiliates will cover Republican Senate candidate Heather Wilson knocking on doors with volunteers in Rio Rancho. The Alamogordo Daily has a preview in Friday’s paper and will likely run a photo in Monday’s paper.
In Florida, where Obama’s visiting, volunteers will meet at 11 offices.
In Pennsylvania, there are seven door walk and phone banking events open to the press.
In Colorado, state legislators will speak with volunteers at three offices.
In Missouri, there’s a pancake breakfast in St. Louis. Dave Spence, the candidate for governor, will try to fire up the Mizzou College Republicans.
In Nevada, RNC co-chairman Sharon Day will meet with volunteers in Centennial Hills at 9 a.m., Summerlin at 1 p.m. and Henderson at 2 p.m.
In North Carolina, congressional candidate Mark Meadows will open a new GOP office in Henderson. And volunteers at other offices, including Greensboro and Raleigh, will be encouraged to tweet why they’re volunteering with the hash tag #NCSuperSaturday.
The RNC is able to analyze in real time how many doors are being knocked on and how many calls are being made at a county level with newish “dashboard” software.
Wiley, who worked as Rudy Giuliani’s political director in 2008 and the RNC regional political director responsible for the west coast in 2010, will spend Sunday figuring out what adjustments need to be made. Some counties made need more phone calls than others. At noon Sunday, he’ll start with his people in Florida. Then he’ll cycle through each battleground state-by-state to review after-action reports. After that, he’ll conference in the teams doing Senate races and then House races.
“The purpose is to test the capacity of our grassroots machine,” said Wiley. “We have one more Saturday after this, and then it’s essentially go time.”
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