It’s one of those things that has been largely glossed over or flat-out ignored by the chattering classes as they predict doom and gloom and Democratic carcasses littering the political landscape on November 3…
Republicans enter the final six weeks of the election with a political wind at their back and opportunities for victory across the country, yet several state parties are at a severe financial disadvantage with Democrats, raising questions about whether Republicans can fully capitalize on a favorable climate.
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At this point in previous campaign cycles, a large check has usually been in the mail from the Republican National Committee to help pay for the ground game. But this year, the party cannot afford to execute a robust voter turnout program, which could make a difference in tight races where Democrats hold a financial and organizational advantage.
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For the first time in at least a decade, the Republican National Committee has reduced the scale of its turnout and targeting programs, which have long been seen as critical ways to identify independent voters. A distinct state-by-state plan has become more of a one-size-fits-all regional effort, which is cheaper but may not be tailored to find voters in states where people do not register by political party.
The Republican chairman, Michael Steele, has struggled to raise money. He has focused his efforts on local Republican offices across the country – the 333rd office opened this week in Syracuse – as the traditional work of the party apparatus has either been outsourced to candidates or outside groups, or is simply not being done, with party officials hoping the natural enthusiasm for Republicans will make up the difference.
For years, the republicans beat us by virtue of the fact that they had the Get Out The Vote operations all sewn up. But that takes money trickling down to the individual races, and individual races are decided…wait for it…individually.
This lack of attention by the national party chair, and the decisions he has made to spread resources so thin, could turn out to be advantageous for Democrats come November. One of those races that might hinge on how much money the republicans pour into it is the Senate race here in Missouri, where Robin Carnahan is locked in a tight battle with the corrupt and contemptible Roy Blunt, the ultimate Washington insider. The MOGOP has only received a fraction of the financial support it is used to getting from the national party in such important elections. In the past, the MOGOP has employed professional political operatives known as “field marshalls” to coordinate efforts and organize campaign volunteers into the coherent door-knocking-canvassing-GOTV machine that has succeeded in turning our bellwether, swing state into a pretty-reliably-red state over the last ten years or so. Currently, the MOGOP has no paid “field marshalls.” The volunteer coordinators are volunteers, too, because the party can’t afford to pay them.
And similar stories are playing out all across the land.
I don’t pretend to know how things are going to turn out in November. But neither do the Chicken Littles running around shouting that the sky is falling.
So here is what you do…
First, you vote. As soon as you can. If you live in a state with early voting, you can head to the polls as early as this weekend in some states. If you aren’t registered, or you have moved since the last election, update your registration or get registered. There is still time in most places but it is running out in quite a few of them. In Missouri, you have until October 6. The law reads that you have to be registered at your current place of residence by “the fourth Wednesday prior to the election in which you wish to vote.”
But don’t just vote. Talk to your friends and neighbors and relatives and get them to vote too.
And just for good measure, thank the universe, the belief system of your choice or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the fact that Michael Steele exists.