Interesting note: my friend got his degree in political science from a university in West Virginia. Before the election, the RNC wrote him and asked him to come down to WV and work on the final push for them as a regional coordinator. He got the time off from school and work, and went down from the 31st to through the 3rd. Just talked to him last night when he got home, and man, was it ever eye-opening.
West Virginia was -1% to +5% for Bush over the past six months, but the state went to Bush over Kerry by 13% - that is the difference they made in the days before the election. There were four lawyers on hand for each of WV's 55 counties, and two regional coordinators for every county. The regional coordinators, like my friend, went out on the road with a WEALTH of statistical data, coordinating and sending out teams of door-to-door volunteers.
He said their biggest strategy was NOT to hit the swing voters, but to mobilize the base. They hit registered republicans, people who had previously said they voted for Bush in 2000, leafleted cars on Sunday morning at churches all across the state, and ran a massive phone bank effort. They worked 6am to midnight every day, in shifts. The data they had on household party affiliation and voting history was unreal as far as the amount of data and the level of detail; far greater than US census data.
The other huge issue was the religious conservative vote. The RNC got out and pushed the word to the conservative base about the gay marriage ban being on the ballot in 11 states. That issue alone spurred a ton of people to go to the polls, and while they were there, no surprise, they also pulled the lever for Bush.
Another major factor was the weather - in counties where it rained, the Republican turnout beat the Democratic turnout two to one. That is a NATIONWIDE statistic in counties where the weather was adverse. All biases aside, the cold fact of it is that the average republican tends to have higher income, therefore owns their own means of transportation, and is better able to get themselves to the polls.
He also said a perceived factor is that the Republicans have more, and will fight harder to protect what they have, rather than someone who already feels downtrodden and is more easily discouraged from going out by things like bad weather.
Out of all the challenges possible in Ohio, they only issued about 1,000 of them, and very few of those were upheld. There were people on the list who were convicted felons, or who were actually registered to vote in more than one state.
Now, I know this guy; I know where he comes from, and what he is interested in. He's from the same area I am, southern Connecticut, which is a very affluent, very GOP-leaning area of the state. He's not a bad guy, he's moderate on a lot of issues and conservative on a few, liberal on one or two. There are issues he doesn't like Bush on at all, but he really dislikes Kerry. I see myself as a moderate, and I'm registered independent. I'm more conservative fiscally, more liberal socially, moderate on everything in between. There are issues where I disagree with Kerry, but I really dislike Bush. He and I are both pretty moderate, but he tilts right a little and I tilt left a little. When he gave me the big download, I knew it was for real, it wasn't tall-tales or trying to make the RNC and the GOP look good.
Despite all the Democratic rhetoric and hoopla, and grassroots talk, the Republicans wanted the win more, they prepared better, they worked harder, and they turned out their core supporters in huge numbers in a massive effort. I think if the Democratic party machine, the DNC, had been as unified, as well-prepared, and as focused on the end game as the Republicans, that Kerry would be president.
From everything I have seen, I think the long primary race took it's toll on dems both financially and emotionally. All the money from the primaries could have done wonders if it was all spent on one candidate from the beginning. The party, in my eyes and in retrospect, really lost a lot of wind from its sails when Kerry took the nomination. PLEASE NOTE, I am not saying that this is because Kerry wasn't the right candidate. It was because eight other candidates lost, and their supporters didn't get as fully behind Kerry as the original Kerry backers already were. I myself am guilty of not working as hard for Kerry as I worked for Dean, and part of that is due to demoralization, and part of that was due to the attitude of the traditional Kerry supporters to the Dean converters. I had a bad taste in my mouth for weeks because of the derision and criticism from some of the people on the boards, who were not content to be happy to welcome people over from the Dean camp, but took a sick pleasure in being smug about it and rubbing it in our faces. That made it a lot harder for me to come to actually LIKE supporting Kerry, and I have a lot of patience - I guarantee you that the "Ha! We were right, your candidate sucked, now shut up and be grateful we're letting you hang out with us" attitude lost a good number of supporters, or at least dimmed their interest in supporting the campaign.
I know the other Dem candidate factions got the same treatment. They would come to boards and say things like, "Okay, Clark dropped out, so I am here to support Kerry. One thing I liked about Clark was X, but I don't know how Kerry feels about X, can anyone tell me?" The replies they got tended to run along the lines of, "Clark is out, who cares what you think? Just support Kerry, or do you want Bush to win?" That is not the way to unite a party. Even on the behalf of the other camps, there was a sour grapes attitude - like when the primary elections were revisited full-force in the picking of a running mate for Kerry, with people demanding that their former candidate be the VP pick or they would not support Kerry. It was ridiculous behavior by all of us, and I bet the GOP campaign was laughing the whole time.
Lack of unity and resources and cohesion is what lost us this race, in my eyes. The Republican Party had George Bush from Day One, and despite his flaws and scandals and controversy, he was their One Candidate. Warts and all, Bush won because he was always the quarterback, and everyone was cheering for him from the minute the game started. They all got behind Bush, they concentrated on their base, and they picked up whatever other votes they could manage along the way. The Democrats were divided from Day One, we fought and argued and raised and spent money waging political war on each other. We developed powerful attachments to nine different candidates, and those hopes and dreams fell apart and had to be put back together under a new banner, but the new union was not as strong and dedicated to the cause as each of its parts had been to themselves. We blew a lot of time and money and effort and emotion in choosing our candidate, and then still had to go up against Bush, Rove, and the army of Republicans from coast to coast.
This race began as a thing we called "Anybody But Bush", but that was not enough. The Democratic National Committee, the leaders of the Democratic Party, they saw this Anybody-But-Bush tidal wave gathering out at sea, and they felt sure that all they had to do was get SOMEONE on the ballot and it would be a done deal. ABB was the surge, but in the end, the lever in the voting booth isn't marked "BUSH" and "NOT BUSH". We cannot afford to do that again, ever. If every ounce of energy of the anti-Bush movement had coalesced behind Kerry or even another candidate from the outset, we would have had a better chance. Think of how far Kerry came from when he accepted the Democratic nomination until the concession speech on 11/3. He was within a hairs breadth of defeating the entirety of the Republican Party.
John Kerry and all of us took on the Grand Old Party, and they could barely beat us.
Imagine if all the effort that went into the primary contests had been solidified behind Kerry from the beginning. There is NO WAY we would have lost.
If we had campaigned for one Democrat as hard and as long as the Republicans campaigned for Bush, we would have won. I hope this is a wake-up call for the party and the aspiring candidates in 2008.
This is not a slam or an endorsement, or anything like that, it is a call to action. We must be united, we need a single, consistent party platform, and we need it NOW.
When everything seems like the movies
Yeah you BLOG bleed just to know you'r alive