One of the reasons Republicans remain fairly confident about their chances in Georgia’s midterm election is that traditionally, Democratic turnout in midterms is lower than it is in presidential election years. The hope is that the lower Democratic turnout, combined with GOP frustration over the policies of the Obama administration and a strong desire to put the Senate under Republican control will be enough to get Governor Deal re-elected and put either Jack Kingston or David Perdue in the Senate..
That sounds nice. But, given technology advances, that model might no longer apply.
Starting with President Obama’s 2008 campaign and continuing through 2012, voter identification has become much more precise, mainly due to the use of cell phones and tablets to record detailed data on potential voters while conducting door-to-door canvassing. The data gleaned from these visits, combined with information that can be gotten and recorded through telephone and email contacts, helped the Obama campaign target and motivate people to get out the vote and win the election.
The Jason Carter campaign hopes to bring that same technology to Georgia, and use it to grow the Democratic voter base by what it estimates is 200,000 voters needed to beat Governor Deal in the midterm, according to a story in the Savannah Morning News:
Karl Douglass, Carter’s Yale-educated political director, promises to have the most robust set of data about Democrats the state has seen. The campaign, he said, has already hired a “super data-based” manager and plans to keep supporters engaged throughout the election.
“We’ve got to get voter turnout higher than it was in the last mid-term, but we think we can get it higher naturally. The question is can we get it high enough with Democratic turnout?” said Douglass, who was a 2008 Obama campaign regional political director.
“We’re going to engineer that in a lot of ways coordinating with campaign offices. We’re going to have people on the ground working, doing data collection and door-to-door, starting much sooner rather than later.”
For its part, the Georgia Republican Party doesn’t seem to be taking the challenge sitting down. New data gathering applications are starting to be rolled out as part of its “Victory Squad” project. And, the Georgia College Republicans are planning campus voter registration drives this fall.
Democrats have a head start on the GOP when it comes to using technology to engage voters and boost election day turnout. Whether that head start will be enough to boost Democratic turnout to the point where Jason Carter can pull off a win in what is still considered to be a red state is an open question.