Democrats place a big bet on strategy to hold the Senate | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Democrats place a big bet on strategy to hold the Senate

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 9:22 AM

click to enlarge GETTING OUT THE VOTE: What if the effort works, but produces voters whose outlooks have changed?
  • GETTING OUT THE VOTE: What if the effort works, but produces voters whose outlooks have changed?
The New York Times reports on a $60 million investment by the  Democratic Party in a voter targeting strategy that, in short, aims to produce a better turnout among traditional constituencies — minorities, women — than typically expected in non-president election years. Arkansas is, naturally, on the list of targeted states with its vital U.S. Senate contest between Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican challenger Tom Cotton.

This "micro-targeting" is aimed at targeting all kinds of sub-categories of voters. In theory.

The Bannock Street project is specifically focused on ten states — Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Michigan, Montana, and West Virginia — with plans for senior field operatives and other staff members to be in place by the end of the month.

The state teams will each be required to each come up with a “strategic plan,” complete with a budget and data-mapping program. Paul Dunn — the newly hired national field director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who also ran the 2010 Bennet field effort — will travel around the country, subjecting the teams to “murder boards” and making sure they are in constant communication with the Democratic committee.

.... “Your program will live and die by the strength of the data available to you on the voter file,” read a memo provided to the field teams.

The project will also require the state teams to constantly update their voter files so they can use their resources as efficiently as possible. “We will be able to go into the 58th precinct of the fifth ward of Little Rock and see if they’ve gotten a door knock, phone call or piece of mail, and know what TV they’re watching,” Mr. Cecil said.

But what happens when the old rules don't apply? What if they go to the literal old fifth ward of Little Rock — once as reliably Democratic as you could imagine — and find the old data has been made moot by a sea change in voter leanings, pushed rightward in Arkansas by a deep animosity toward the president? The Republicans microtarget, too. But they don't really need it in 2014. A big photo of a threatening- or condescending-looking black president is as sophisticated a target as they need. Or so their thinking goes. Though they'll be working GOTV too.

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