Republicans are getting worried about their 2014 chances because Democrats have taken their fundraising advantage and spent it on registering hundreds of thousands of new voters including 60,000 new voters in 48 competitive House districts.
House Democrats, flush with campaign cash, have crafted an unprecedented field operation this year that has registered tens of thousands of voters — including several thousand in critical states – for the first time.
Election forecasters and public opinion polls agree that Democrats have no hope of taking back control of the House of Representatives this year, but that hasn’t stopped the party from raising records sums of money to help hold on to at-risk seats.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has outraised the National Republican Congressional Committee by roughly $33 million this cycle, thanks in part to fundraisers headlined by President Obama and small-dollar donations from the party faithful.
The cash flow is helping Democrats pay for a field operation that includes more than 500 paid staffers across the country. Those staffers have helped DCCC register more than 60,000 new voters in 48 districts — a first for the committee, according to statistics shared with The Washington Post.
For House Democrats, this strategy is about laying the groundwork to win back the lower chamber in 2016 or 2018, but their efforts will pay dividends this year in close gubernatorial and Senate races in states like Florida and Georgia. In the Peach State, Republicans are already freaking out and trying to stop a massive non-DCCC voter registration effort with a voter fraud investigation.
Democrats at all levels are using their substantial fundraising advantage to build an organization that will register new voters, and get out the vote.
In a recent article, Charlie Cook pointed to the Democratic ground game as reason for Republican concern, “Another reason things might not turn out for Republicans is if the highly touted Democratic Senate ground game comes together. Clearly the Obama campaign and Democratic allies had a superior voter-identification and get-out-the-vote operation two years ago. Earlier this year, Senate Democrats announced the Bannock Street Project, a $60 million program with the goal of putting in place 4,000 paid workers to use techniques perfected and put to work in 2010 by DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet in his race, and again two years ago by the Obama campaign. While some Republicans have scoffed at the likelihood of Democrats being able to mount such an effort, they concede that the Democratic ground game was superior two years ago. In midterm elections, if Democrats can crank up the turnout among young, female, and minority voters, then their chances of success this year increase.”
Republicans are still years behind Democrats in registering and turning out voters. Those who take the time to register tend to be more likely to show up to vote in that election. This is the reason Republicans have made killing Democratic voter registration efforts one of their primary goals. Democrats are developing a more centralized voter registration system so that they can keep in contact with newly registered voters and make sure that they vote.
The main reason the models and pollsters could end up being wrong is that the electorate might not look the same as it did in 2010. Nearly every model and poll is assuming that the electorate will be whiter and more conservative, but if Democrats nudge turnout in critical races up by a point or two it could change everything and turn a pundit assumed Republican victory into a massive defeat.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association