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“Victory Lab” Author Discusses Democrats 2014 Chess Moves

Last week I wrote a column on this website assessing Republican over-ebullience in advance of the 2014 midterm elections. I based my analysis on Market Research Foundation (MRF) research done in Virginia during the 2013 gubernatorial election – another race which portended high GOP and independent turnout and depressed Democratic intensity.

That’s not what happened, though.

In Virginia, Democrats engaged in a concerted effort to boost African-American turnout above 2009 levels – when the black vote represented 16 percent of the electorate. They succeeded – matching the 2012 presidential election mark of 20 percent. Black voters comprised 37 percent of Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s vote total – choosing him by a 9-to-1 margin, according to exit polling.

MRF’s research showed how the black vote was boosted dramatically in Richmond City, Norfolk, Newport News, Petersburg and other Democratic strongholds – giving McAuliffe his margin of victory. This research also unearthed equally effective Democratic techniques (usually involving negative attacks) which successfully suppressed GOP turnout in reliably Republican regions. Additionally, the GOP missed many opportunities to effectively capitalize on local issues with potential ideological symmetry – an increasingly fertile ground for picking up new votes.

I concluded that these same tactics – mass African-American mobilization combined with suppression of the GOP vote via negative attacks – will be employed in 2014 on a much broader scale. And possibly with similar perception-defying results.

This contention was lent fresh expression in a New Republic piece published this week. Written by Sasha Issenberg – author of The Victory Lab – the article is entitled “How The Democrats Can Avoid Going Down This November.”

Issenberg’s sprawling piece delves into the scientific advances Democrats have made on the turnout front, including detailed lists of their voters who turn out for presidential races but not midterms. According to Issenberg, party strategists not only have these voters’ names but also “guidance on where, how, and when they can be reached,” which evidently includes “predictive models to anticipate which voters are most likely to actually open and read their mail.”

“The midterm imperative is clear: Raise the dollars and secure the volunteer commitments,” Issenberg writes. “Then go and turn out those who are already on your side but won’t show up without a friendly nudge.”

Issenberg also delves into how Democratic agenda items are being used to blunt GOP turnout – not drive up its own numbers, as the legacy media have led us to believe. Take the minimum wage – an issue MRF has written about previously.

“Obama and his party’s candidates talk about the minimum wage in the hope that working-class whites skeptical of Democrats on other matters will become more ambivalent about voting Republican,” Issenberg notes.

A renewed focus on women’s issues falls under the same category: It’s not about turning out Democratic voters, it’s about keeping GOP voters at home.

No matter what the legacy media says, Issenberg’s reveal of the Democrats’ 2014 game plan – combined with MRF’s 2013 work in Virginia – should give Republican strategists pause as they assess their midterm prospects.

Don’t Believe The Spin: 2014 Elections Are Far From Settled

By Bill Wilson

In recent weeks the media has been flooded with stories predicting a Republican sweep in the 2014 mid-term elections. Every prognosticator, soothsayer, and aspiring pollster has written about the impending doom for Democrats. And, while it may be comforting to read for those who are repulsed by the Obama Administration and their never-ending stream of regulations and disregard of the law to suit their own ends, it may be a bit too soon to start the celebration.

Simply put, most of the polling is based on a turnout model that resembles the 2010 mid-term elections. And, to some extent, this may be justified. Many Democrat-leaning groups are tired and upset. Obamacare is a dismal failure no matter how much gloss NBC tries to put on it. The amateurish foreign policy of the current regime is truly scary to everyone. And Obama’s most loyal followers are mired in high unemployment, reduced welfare spending instead of sky-rocketing increases, and a general sense of being ignored.

So, conventional wisdom would dictate high GOP turnout, low Democrat turnout, and an angry – almost hostile – independent turnout. This, naturally, would translate into massive GOP wins come November. But these same conditions existed in Virginia just six months ago, although at a lower intensity level. The “turnout models” all projected a strong GOP mood. What happened to tip the scales to the Democrat and could it happen again in 2014?

The answer, as bone-chilling as it may be to the Republican cheering squad – is an unequivocal “Yes.” Consider a few facts from Virginia. In the eleven jurisdictions with the highest concentrations of African-American voters, overall turnout in 2013 increased significantly. In these counties and cities, there is no question as to the margin of victory – it will always be heavily Democratic. The only question is as to the overall turnout figure.

So, Richmond City saw its turnout increase from 38.2 percent in 2009 to 45.3 percent in 2013. The GOP lost the governor’s mansion by 56,000 votes. But they lost Richmond City by 33,000 votes. The story is the same in Norfolk, Newport News, Petersburg, and in the other jurisdictions with high black vote.

All together, the Democrat ticket won the 11 jurisdictions by a plurality of 228,000 votes and just barely hung on to win by a mere 56,000 votes.

While the Democrat bastions were turning out in huge numbers, the Republican areas were voting at exactly the “model” of 2009. Most of the GOP counties voted at the same level, give or take a point or two. And, the GOP was still winning “their counties” by 60 percent or more of the vote. It was just that not as many people turned out.

My favorite, and clearest cut, example is Lee County in the far southwest corner of the Commonwealth. The GOP won in 2013 with 73 percent of the vote and had a margin of 2,327 votes. But just a year earlier, Mitt Romney won the county by 71 percent of the vote and a margin of 4,254. In 2013, only 31 percent of the registered voters in Lee County turned out. Had they voted at the state average of 45 percent, it would have meant another 1,000 net votes for the GOP ticket. Now, multiply this result in little, far-away Lee County by the 45 jurisdictions that the GOP won but where turnout was either the same of less than it had been in 2009 and it becomes readily apparent what happened.

The GOP was working on the assumption that turnout would be what it has always been in governor election-years. And, in Republican areas it was. But in Democrat strongholds, it was not; it was radically increased. Nobody saw what was being done. Nobody at the time claimed to comprehend what the Democratic operatives were doing. In fact, there were a number of stories about how difficult it was for the grassroots operatives to motivate African-American voters and the resistance they faced. One must now assume that these stories were well-placed disinformation designed to lull the GOP into a false sense of turnout-security.

One other element of the Democrat campaign must be noted – their active and aggressive effort to suppress the GOP vote. One could argue that their entire “war against women” theme was nothing more than an attempt to make women feel uncomfortable expressing their views in support of the GOP ticket.

It is now well known that married women voted for the Republicans. What is not as well known is that if you only consider Asian and white single women, the GOP did well too. Once ethnicity is taken into account, the gender gap evaporates. Where the “single women” were lost was among African-Americans and to a lesser extent Hispanics. It is far more likely these voters were motivated by considerations other then the hyped-up, made-up “war against women.”

Other suppression efforts were visible in the GOP-rich coal counties, in Republican areas like Virginia Beach City, and in the entire thrust of the Democrat campaign. It is a well-known political truism that negative advertising reduces overall turnout. From the very beginning, the McAuliffe campaign was one negative slur after another.

So the entire Democrat strategy, field tested in Virginia, can be summed up neatly: Suppress GOP leaning voters through negativity and nastiness while doing whatever is necessary to turn out high percentages of identified Democratic vote, especially African-Americans. Since there is apparently no need to convince the black vote on which lever to pull, all that is required is getting them to the polls.

Viewed in this context, Republicans should be more reserved in their predictions. And, the free-media should ignore the propagandists who want to, again, lull the GOP into a sense of false security. The legacy-media will do what they are told, it is all they know to do. But those who want to see a different outcome should not help them.

Any candidate or consultant that looks to the last mid-term election as guidance on turnout and tactics will regret it. The terms and parameters of the “permanent campaign” dictate a total re-evaluation.

Bill Wilson is the chairman of the Market Research Foundation, a non-partisan, research and education foundation that seeks better understanding of public opinion and factors motivating that opinion.

7 Mobile Stats Every Politician Needs To Know

1. 90 percent of American adults have a cellphone.

According to a recent study by Pew Research, 90 percent of Americans can now be contacted at any time, anywhere. The cellphone has been the fastest adopted technology in history and now 9 out of 10 Americans can perpetually be one button away from anyone in the world.

2. 98 percent of Americans ages 18-29 have cell phones.

While the national average is high, the adoption among the younger generation is almost complete. The most surefire way to reach the younger generation is through the way they interact with the world: mobile technology.

3. 58 percent of American adults have a smartphone.

Now almost 6 in 10 American adults have a smartphone. By comparison, 14 percent of American adults owned a smartphone in 2008. This means that you can now reach them through innumerable modes of communication. Constant access to the internet and social media facilitated by the modern marvel known as the smartphone also means constant potential exposure to campaign messaging, if you take advantage of it.

 4. 34 percent of all users are “mobile only.”

Up 9 percent from 2012, this continues to show the fascinating way our society is moving towards a mobile lifestyle. This rise in mobile computing is quickly rendering the traditional PC obsolete.

5. 25 percent of all emails are opened on mobile devices.

The vast quantities of business done on mobile devices is a very recent development and only illustrates further how prominent mobile technology has become.

6. 90 percent of people move between devices to achieve a goal (i.e. smartphone, tablet, PC).

Mobile technology is allowing for increased flexibility in all areas of life, whether business, shopping, or connecting and communicating with peers. People are now using multiple platforms to achieve their goals in the most efficient and convenient manner possible.

7. 189 million Facebook users are “mobile only.”

This alone should convince people that mobile technology use is pervasive. When the most popular form of social media is accessed primarily through mobile technology by a group of people numerically equivalent to 60 percent of the United States population, you should be paying attention.

Mobile technology is in full force in 2014 and is the wave of the future. If you want to be effective, you need to grasp this and learn to connect in a modern, mobile environment.