Rule #9: If it’s Tied, it’s Turnout. If it’s Turnout, it’s Technology. NC is tied politically and will be tied for the foreseeable future.

by johndavis, April 28, 2013

This report is the continuation of a series highlighting key rules for How the North Carolina Republican Party Can Maintain Political Power for 114 Years (like their predecessors the Democrats). The rules highlighted thus far are: Rule #1: Always remember that you are vulnerable Rule #2: Criminal indictments scare off contributors Rule #3: Keep your
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This report is the continuation of a series highlighting key rules for How the North Carolina Republican Party Can Maintain Political Power for 114 Years (like their predecessors the Democrats). The rules highlighted thus far are:

  • Rule #1: Always remember that you are vulnerable
  • Rule #2: Criminal indictments scare off contributors
  • Rule #3: Keep your voters close, and your metropolitan voters closer
  • Rule #4: Caring must be at the core of conservatism
  • Rule #5: Lose the courts, lose the war
  • Rule #6: Men do not equal a majority
  • Rule #7: Welcome young voters with “Come as you are” Open Conservatism
  • Rule #8: Obey the Golden Rule of Politics -“Those with the most gold rule”

Today I am adding Rule #9: If it’s tied, it’s Turnout. If it’s Turnout, it’s Technology.  North Carolina is tied politically and will be tied for the foreseeable future.

April 24, 2013        Vol. VI, No. 9            8:13 pm

Charlotte, one of the nation’s fastest growing cities of 298 square miles, now has more people than the State of Alaska, which has 586,412 square miles.  Alaska has a population of about 730,000 people.  Charlotte has a population of 750,000.  There are more people in the Charlotte Metropolitan Area than in the states of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota and Alaska combined.

The Triangle is also one of the country’s fastest growing metropolitan areas.  As to political muscle, Raleigh’s Wake County and Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County cast a combined total of 934,265 votes in the 2012 General Election, the same total as the least populated 61 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

I say all of this to amplify the most startling fact from the 2012 elections: only about half of the state’s voters are native North Carolinians.  According to the March 2013 North Carolina Data-Net, “… barely half of the state’s voters were native North Carolinians. Forty-nine percent [49%] were born elsewhere.”

Why should the growth of new urban voters matter to Republicans?  Because the study shows that those who moved to North Carolina in the last 5-to-10 years voted for Obama by 62% over Romney’s 38%.

In just 20 years, our voter rolls have grown from 3.4 million to 6.4 million.  That growth rate is projected to continue for decades, steadily shrinking the percentage of native North Carolina voters.

As to the impact of our growth on partisan politics, the Republican share is also steadily shrinking.

In 2006, North Carolina registered Republicans numbered 35% of the 5.5 million voters.  By 2010, the Republican share of all registered voters was down to 32% of 6.2 million voters.  Today, April 24, 2013, North Carolina Republicans number only 30.8% of 6,624,136 voters.

While the combined total of voters in Wake and Mecklenburg counties have grown by 140% since 1993, Democrats have dropped from 53% of the total to 43%, while Republicans have dropped from 36% to only 28%.  Unaffiliated voters have grown from 11% to 29% of the Wake/Mecklenburg total.

Republicans have all of the political power in the state and that means a competitive advantage.  However, power has a way of distorting perceptions of reality.  Numbers are a reality check.

The reality is that North Carolina is virtually tied politically; a swing state with a level battlefield that favors neither party.  Most of the projected growth is in urban counties where the GOP is losing ground.

Don’t bring TV ads to a turnout fight

You’ve heard the old caution, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.”  In today’s world of breaking ties in political races, that adage could be written, “Don’t bring TV ads to a turnout fight.”

The 2012 presidential race was tied the entire year.  An astounding 97% of likely voters knew whether they were going to vote for or against President Obama the entire fall.

There were very few persuadable voters.  You were either going to vote for Obama or not.  Period.

Real Clear Politics has compiled a list of 202 national polls conducted from January through November last year that pinned voters down on their voting intentions.

  • Not 1 of 35 national polls conducted from Oct 1 to Nov 6, 2012 showed Obama above 50%
  • Obama’s average support was 48.8% out of 202 polls; Romney’s average support was 48.1%
  • 48.8% plus 48.1% equals 96.9%, leaving only 3.1% of all likely voters undecided

In mid-2011, the Obama camp saw that the race was tied, and that the trend line was flat and likely to hold both candidates just below the winning 50% mark all the way to the finish line.  They surmised that a tied race could best be won by getting more of their voters to vote by investing $100 million in data mining and turnout technology.

The brightest Republican consultants surmised that they could break the tie by spending hundreds of millions of TV ad dollars persuading voters that Obama was awful.  What they overlooked was the fact that there were very few persuadable voters, and the fact that the Romney vote was unenthusiastic and needed extra prodding to get them to the polls.  Romney needed a competitive turnout operation.

Obama’s Strategic Advantage over Romney and GOP Superstars

After reading numerous accounts of how Obama’s Chicago team built a turnout advantage over the Romney team and their $100 million Super PACs led by GOP superstars like Karl Rove, it is clear that it was the investment in technology and an analytics team that broke the tie and won the race.

Read Time’s story, Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win, and you will discover that Jim Messina, Obama’s Campaign Manager, invested $100 million in technology and analytics software.  He hired a team of techies five times the size of the 2008 operations group, the group that shattered all voter registration and turnout records.

These data-mining geeks worked in secret in a remote corner of the HQ in Chicago for 18 months, “creating a single massive system that could merge the information collected from pollsters, fundraisers, field workers and consumer databases as well as social-media and mobile contacts with the main Democratic voter files in the swing states.”  The Obama megafile allowed the campaign:

  • To predict the types of people who would be persuaded by specific messages
  • To rank their target lists for unique actions in order of persuadability (register; donate)
  • To predict the types of people who would more likely give money online or by mail
  • To predict the types of people who would volunteer, and for what type of work
  • To raise a record $1 billion war chest
  • To register 3 million new voters and turn out voters in swing states in record numbers

Another Time magazine story, Friended: How the Obama Campaign Connected With Young Voters, revealed how the Obama campaign used technology to overcome the challenge of turning out young voters who did not have a land-line phone.

  • 85% of Obama’s targeted swing-state voters under age 29 with no listed phone number were found via a Facebook Friends app
  • 1 million Obama backers used the app on Facebook, permitting the Chicago HQ analytics geeks to look at their Facebook Friends
  • 600,000 Obama supporters used the Facebook app to persuade 5 million of their Facebook Friends to register, contribute and/or vote
  • Obama team registered 1.8 million new voters door-to-door; 1.1 million online

Chicago-based data analytics geeks gave President Barack Obama his margin of victory by identifying a powerful new means of “door-to-door contact” by friends: Facebook Friends apps on smartphones and tablets.  Friends were contacting friends using texting and social media; the new knock at the door.

North Carolina’s dramatic growth from 3.4 million voters to 6.4 million voters in 20 years has yielded the startling fact that only about half of the state’s voters are natives.  That same growth has created a partisan political tie.

Merely making voter registration and turnout a priority is no longer enough.  It must be the priority.

Rule #9: If it’s tied, it’s Turnout. If it’s Turnout, it’s Technology.  North Carolina is tied politically and will be tied for the foreseeable future.

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Thank You for Reading the John Davis Political Report! JND SignatureJohn N. Davis, Editor

 

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