That’s why money — and enough time to spend it — matters.
Turning out voters takes enormous resources on the ground in every state. It takes money far enough in advance that a campaign can build out a ground game with enough time to identify middle- to low-propensity voters, target them with digital ads that are laser-focused on their interests and bombard them with information to get them to the polls at the right place and on the right day.
It takes field staff knocking on the right doors at the right time so that a candidate banks as many votes as possible when early voting starts. That makes it easier come Election Day, when field staff can focus on targeting the remaining stragglers. It’s a game of millimeters.
Then came the political chaos of the past few weeks. Now Graham says, “I’d vote for the Democratic nominee no matter who it is at this point.” Upon reading that, the DNC may be gaining confidence — that’s one more vote in Pennsylvania, right?
But do you see the problem? Graham doesn’t actually like any of the Democratic candidates on that stage; he just happens to like Trump less. He’s what you’d have in your database as a high-propensity voter (he votes every four years) with a low attachment score for the eventual nominee (he’s not particularly motivated to vote for the Democrat).
Graham is not undecided — but once the general election is here and he’s bombarded with negative ads about the Democratic nominee on social media, specifically targeted to his interests, Graham may well throw up his hands and decide not to vote at all.
But who’s going to knock on that door? And, unless The New York Times writes a profile on every voter in Erie, how will the DNC know who else to talk to and what to say?
Building those early ground games, of course, is exactly why the party committees exist. But the DNC isn’t exactly inspiring confidence that the organization will be ready for the fight come 2020.
But the survey also showed two big red flags. First, independents who read about the party’s leftward turn were 6% less likely to vote Democratic.
Second, the experiment also found that the results “did not indicate [Democratic voters] were more motivated to vote and campaign for the eventual nominee than those who hadn’t read about them.”
But the eventual Democratic nominee won’t have a field army to greet them at the Panhandle gates.
We may spend a lot of time talking about the polls in the media, but the candidates who appeared on last week’s debate stage would be wise to remember: Polls don’t vote.
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