The corny stuff matters

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I originally had this challenge buried in the bottom of this article, but I want to be sure you see it:

Are any of you volunteering your time for a candidate between now and Tuesday? You can join me in Muskogee on Saturday campaigning for Charles Thompson, volunteer for a Tulsa-area legislative candidate, volunteer (405-528-3501) to phone or distribute literature for the Oklahoma statewide GOP get-out-the-vote effort, or call voters in key districts around the country.

Just do something, and let us know about it in the comments.

One of the delights of this election season has been watching Ace, of Ace of Spades HQ, develop an appreciation for the nuts-and-bolts of political campaigns as he has become personally involved in knocking doors and phoning voters on behalf of candidates.

It's easy to be the cynic on the sidelines, to pronounce anathemas on both parties and all politicians. It's easy, if you don't know what you're talking about, to talk about the Republican Party as if it were one big monolithic machine, rather than a complex system of interactions between party activists, national, state, and county officials, precinct chairmen, elected officials, volunteers, donors, and ordinary voters. It's easy to pooh-pooh corny, old-fashioned get-out-the-vote methods like knocking on doors, phoning voters, and putting out yard signs. (It's also a highly conveeeeeeenient excuse for not getting off your behind and making a difference.)

The average American voter, focused on family, faith, job, home, friends, and hobbies, prefers not to give much thought to politics and government and usually won't until one of those things is threatened. Ideally, a limited government would keep to its constitutionally-assigned tasks and otherwise leave us alone, so we wouldn't need to keep a constant, watchful eye on City Hall, the County Courthouse, the State Capitol, and Washington.

To a political junkie, of the sort that reads this site and Ace's site, it seems strange that a voter wouldn't already know by now who he's voting for or whether he's voting at all. This is not Planet Vulcan, and it may seem highly illogical, but corny campaign techniques effectively connect with the way most voters make their decisions.

(By the way, pollster Chris Wilson and his colleague Bryon Allen of Wilson Research Services has a list of five rules-of-thumb that late-deciding voters use at the precinct. And the two wrote a piece last year on how a given voter may use different heuristics -- cognitive shortcuts to simplify decision-making in the absence of perfect knowledge -- for picking a candidate, depending on the circumstances like the number of candidates or whether it's a primary or a general election. Must reading for candidates and consultants.)

But when you hit the streets and talk to voters one-on-one, as Ace has done, you begin to understand, and Ace does a fine job of explaining why the corny stuff matters. Yard signs, for example:

On signs -- even if you just call the office to pick up a sign and put it in your yard, it's important.

Remember, people don't like voting for a name they don't know. When they see the same name up a bunch of times, they become familiar with it. Particularly if their neighbors are endorsing that man. It gives them information -- not much information, but enough. It tells them that even though they haven't done their homework and decided which candidates are worth supporting, people they know have done that homework, and those people have decided that people like Bielat, Hudak, Perry and Golnik are serious guys worth voting for.

"Serious guys worth voting for" is a crucial message. It doesn't matter how bad the incumbent is, if a voter doesn't know that there is an opponent or that he's credible, the voter may stay home or even vote for the loathsome incumbent, who is at least an experienced and credible loathsome incumbent. It's why a loathsome incumbent will spend so much airtime and ink discrediting his challenger; it keeps people from turning out to vote him out.

So, do you have signs in your yard for your favorite candidates? Call your local party HQ and pick some up, or request a sign on the candidate's website. It matters. I'd hate to think a highly qualified candidate like Janet Barresi -- started two successful public charter schools -- would lose the State Superindent's race just because voters didn't know her name.

Referring to his experience campaigning for Sean Bielat in MA-4 (he's challenging Barney Frank), Ace writes:

The minute these people hear that they have a credible candidate, a Marine and engineer, who builds robots to protect our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, they'll go for him. It's just a question of letting people know. And getting out the vote.

We've got a credible guy running right here in eastern Oklahoma -- an Army veteran, a veterinarian, running against the Pelosi-enabling heir of our own little political dynasty. But people won't vote for Charles Thompson unless they get to know him.

Which is why I'm sponsoring and participating in a get-out-the-vote effort this Saturday in Muskogee, and I'm asking you to join me.

A couple of days ago, Ace linked to a Jim Geraghty piece on four election-night scenarios: the "fading GOP wave" (House stays D, only 3 or 4 Senate seats), the "okay wave" (we take the House, pick up 6 to 8 Senate seats), the "happy times wave" (enough to take both House and Senate), and the "superwave" (60 to 90 House seats or beyond, 3 or 4-seat majority in Senate).

Explaining why door-knocking and phone-calling works, Ace pointed out that as enthused as we (the political junkies) are, an indifferent vote counts as much as an enthusiastic vote, but...

There is one way that one person's high enthusiasm translates into more votes: If he can activate, convince, persuade, or cajole a non-voter or non-enthusiastic potential voter to cast his vote his way.

That's the way that high enthusiasm translates into higher vote tallies -- when the enthusiastic share their enthusiasm with the unenthusiastic, and get the unenthusiastic to cast votes, too.

Those votes count just the same as ours, of course. But now we've got more.

I don't know why anyone would say this, but someone objected that GOTV efforts don't matter. [B.S.] That is excuse-making on stilts. GOTV is the entire name of the game. That's how we won in 2004 -- the Democrat who noted that Republican voters just kept pouring into suburban Ohio polling places. "It was like Night of the Living Dead," he said, as the 2004 turn-out effort brought so many unlikely voters to the polls....

This is how it's won. By turning out the vote. By identifying unlikely voters who are likely to vote Republican, if they just get off their asses and go down to the polling place and are confronted with the choice they've been not bothering to think about.

And that's what GOTV is about. It's about lending our enthusiasm to the unenthuiastic, to let them know our candidate's name so that the name isn't completely new and alien to them when they see it on the ballot, but rather familiar and reassuring. Giving them a little bit of bio of the candidate, so they have a quick bullet-point read on him (again, so he seems familiar), and his policy positions.

An indifferent voter will usually not vote for an unknown. It's our job to make the unknowns known to them....

That's what it's all about, especially in midterms. If our marginal voters, our loose-identifying conservatives turn out, and theirs do not, we win. If a lot of our marginal voters turn out, and theirs do not, we win big....

This is what worries me. That we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a truly historic Change but we're going to squander the opportunity for failure of translating our thoughts into actual actions, and thereby, actual votes.

The Democratic base is in fact finally thinking about the election. The fact that they are only thinking about it now doesn't make their votes count less. We've been fired up since summer of 2009 but our votes will count precisely the same.

We need more votes. That simple: We need more votes. We have to turn out everyone who leans Republican to the polls.

If you believe that America is at a crisis point, that we need a return to limited government and fiscal sanity, if you really mean it, then your belief needs to turn into action. You have a chance to make a difference.

Join me in Muskogee on Saturday for Charles Thompson. Volunteer for a Tulsa-area legislative candidate. Call Oklahoma GOP headquarters at 405-528-3501 to volunteer for the massive statewide GOTV effort. Help FreedomWorks make phone calls to voters in key districts around the country.

And if you do volunteer, encourage others to do the same by leaving a comment and letting us know about it.

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3 Comments

Bob said:

Maybe where Alice in Wonderland lives they don't have to continuously watch their conniving, thiefing, pimping, pandering policians and their pimping political patrons full-time.

Brother, we SURE do here in Tulsa, Oklahoma U.S.A.

While you might have seen some political leaders start as grass-roots activists, I think it more likely that a talent-spotter for the local ruling elite spots someone that they think they can use to achieve the patrons economic goals to continue to feed off of the taxpayers rather than compete in the marketplace like a real businessman.

The talent spotter/handler and their patrons then then gets the aspiring candidate serially promoted to ever higher and higher levels of elected office, where they can deliver more and more of the tax gravy to the greedy and undeserving patron.

And, that is how it really works.

The parties merely provide a philosophical carapace to carry the chosen candidate forward to elected office, with the supporting activists' ardor symbolic of a religious epiphany.

Saturday: running the Muskogee Tea Party pre-election rally from 10am to noon-ish, then heading to McAlester to walk for State House candidate Kyle Burmeier.
Sunday evening: driving down to Durant.
Monday: last minute GOTV for Josh Brecheen (SD6).
Tuesday: last minute GOTV for Josh Brecheen (SD6).

Tuesday night and Wednesday: celebrating massive GOP/conservative victories in Oklahoma and across the nation.

Thursday on: holding those Republicans/conservatives accountable to what they said they would do.

Ted D said:

As far as ground work goes, I'll be out in the wee hours of the morning putting up signs for Ken Yazel, Bill Musseman, and Janet Barresi.

I'll be straightening up signs for Gary Jones, John Eagleton, Jon Patton and No 744 where ever they may have fallen in all the weather and folly.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 27, 2010 11:32 PM.

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