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October 25, 2010

Geraghty's Obi-Wan: Four Scenarios, Ranging From Disappointment to Super-Wave

In a below post, not terribly well received, I tried to fight complacency and the idea that this is just going to happen. It's not "just going to happen." Things don't "just happen." People make them happen. Or they don't.

Regarding enthusiasm, it's great that so many of us are enthused to vote, but our enthusiastic votes count just as much as their indifferent votes. You don't get to vote three or four times just because you're enthusiastic.

Unless you're a Democrat, of course.

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. Bullshit. 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.

That's how the Democrats won in 2006 and 2008. That's why there's a Democrat currently in the King of Pork John Murtha's old seat.

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.

This works. I've done it twice now-- once phone-banking, and once knocking on doors -- and in both cases I got unlikely voters to agree to vote. I sold them on the candidates. I assured them that if they voted, it would not be a throw-away, futile vote -- if we vote, we will win.

I didn't get a lot of people like that -- but I got about ten each time I did it. And a couple of times I got highly enthusiastic voters to in turn volunteer for the candidate -- in some cases, they want to volunteer themselves; they just don't know who to call.

In one case I got an old woman who sounded pretty pissed off. I asked her if she'd heard of Sean Bielat. "No," she said. Then she interrupted my pitch, and said to me, in a sort of hostile voice, "Tell me -- is he a Republican?"

"Yes he is," I said, in half-cringe.

"Then he's got my vote. I want them all out. All of them." After prodding her a bit I got her to commit to voting, which she hadn't planned on doing -- she didn't even know Frank had a credible opponent.

A marginal voter. An unlikely voter. Now a likely one.

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.

If they can manage to gin up their marginal voters -- blacks, hispanics, and union members are being most seriously targeted -- enough to offset the gains we're making, then we win, but only a little bit.

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.

Okay, so apologies for getting on people -- but my post wasn't just "reverse psychology." It's direct, forward psychology: Make a difference. Because if we don't, I promise you we will not get 60 seats. We will get what the more conservative estimates show -- somewhere between 40 and 50. And that will be... nice.

But it won't hurt the Democrats, and it won't repudiate Obama. It will not scare the shit out of everyone left that they had better begin considering voting for a repeal of ObamaCare.

That said, Geraghy's Obi-Wan sees it the same way, pretty much. It's hard to tell what's going to happen -- the Democrats may get bruised, the Democrats may get bloody, the Democrats may get battered, and the Democrats may get broken.

Obi-Wan: No, not much has changed — though the Battleground poll was interesting. More on that in a second. I just thought readers who will be reacting to every new poll over the next few days might want a larger guide that tries to put things in context – four ways this could go, and what to look for as the week progresses.

Jim: Four scenarios?

Obi-Wan: First, THE FADING-GOP WAVE SCENARIO: This one is easy. If the generic GOP lead starts to fade and this continues through the weekend to a few points or nearly even on Election Day, then the GOP makes gains in the House but fails to take control, and gains three or four in the Senate. (With disappointments in places like Pennsylvania, Colorado, California and maybe Nevada.)

Second, THE OKAY WAVE SCENARIO: Polling stays about where it is — with strong generic GOP lead (5 to 9 percentage points or more) as GOP leads in many Senate races stay roughly the same; in places like Washington, California and Connecticut, Democrat candidates either break 50 percent or keep a steady gap or widen it. Still, a wave election, with House gains of up to 50 or 60. But GOP fails at Senate control by two to four seats, which shows that (1) to some extent the Democrats’ strategy of individualizing senate rates with harsh negative attacks worked or (2) voters just chose to channel their anger at the Obama administration in their House voting but were discriminating – picking and choosing — in the Senate races.

Third, THE HAPPY-TIMES WAVE SCENARIO: Polling stays about where it is — with strong generic GOP lead between 5 and 9 and GOP Senate candidates in Washington, California, and Connecticut still within reach (6 to 9 points down.) There you would see House gains of up to 50 or 60 or a bit beyond, and it’s a wave election that really does lift all boats and the GOP takes the Senate by a vote or two.

Fourth, THE SUPERWAVE: House gains of 60 to 90, even beyond. Senate races carried along as GOP ends up with three or four vote margin in Senate.

That last possibility is the one I have my mind fixed on-- but it's an extraodinary thing. Extraordinary things do not happen without extraordinary efforts.

It's up to us. Waves don't just happen. We are thought-leaders -- hate to tell you, but you're the thought-leaders too. You're opinionated and informed, and, of course, passionate. What you do will determine what happens in eight short days.

As Winston Wolf's clam-fisherman great grandfather Wesley Wolf advised: Gentelmen, let's not start shucking each other's conchs just yet.


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posted by Ace at 01:51 PM

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