Georgia is approaching the end of a long and perhaps different campaign season; one that befits a large state that could be on the brink of turning purple over the next few years. Nowhere is that more evident than in the amount of effort being expended by the two major parties to expand their bases and get their voters to the polls.
Republicans have opened offices across Georgia, employing paid staffers to mobilize volunteers and interns to contact and classify potential voters. The effort is part of the Republican National Committee’s Victory 365 program, an effort to use the type of data-driven canvassing that allowed Barack Obama and the Democrats to take the presidency and win re-election. The Washington Post highlights this effort by describing the beehive of activity that is the Marietta GOP Victory office.
A clutch of volunteers is handwriting postcard messages to would-be voters — one of the most intimate ways to reach supporters. But [Cobb oOunty GOP Chairman Joe Dendy] is more intrigued by the other group — young, old, white and black — using new phones that automatically dial numbers from a database and can leave prerecorded voice mails for people who don’t pick up. Another group is out in the neighborhood using a phone app that feeds back information to a database that will keep county and state party officials updated on potential voters.
In Georgia and other key states, the RNC partnered with state party operations to deploy paid staffers and millions of dollars in new databases, apps, Web sites and phone systems. In Cobb County, Dendy has essentially ceded day-to-day ground operations to Ashley Williams, 24, a paid GOP staffer helping organize volunteers. She is the kind of young, energetic party staffer that Democrats regularly deploy into a key state more than a year before an election.
The Democrats aren’t taking this sitting down.
Eager to take advantage of a growing Democratic voter base fueled in part by an influx of new residents from other states, [Senate candidate Michelle] Nunn and [Governor candidate Jason] Carter are operating a coordinated campaign that allows them to pool resources. But while Republicans have 17 major outreach offices across Georgia, Democrats have seven. Facilities like the Cobb County GOP headquarters are under long-term leases, while Democrats are mostly renting short-term space.
In addition to the efforts of the two parties, independent groups are trying to motivate and inform potential voters. The Post article describes the activities of the Faith and Freedom Coalition to inform conservative voters about the candidates’ positions on issues important to them, including distributing voter guides and making phone calls to evangelicals. And, the New Georgia Project concluded a major effort to register new voters, focusing on minorities and others considered more likely to vote a Democratic ticket.
No matter what the results are two weeks from today, the increased presence by both parties and their allies is likely to continue. When you are a battleground state, as Georgia is becoming, the campaign never really ends.