All of us on the Right are debating whether the GOP majorities are gone, or whether they can be salvaged. We're wondering how important the GOP money advantage is, particularly when the Democrats are taking out big loans (effectively 'doubling down' on the elections), and we're trying to figure out how much of what Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman is saying is true, and how much is designed to cheer the base enough to make Speaker Pelosi's majority really narrow.
Well, here is the first evidence I've seen that Rove and Mehlman are giving us more than happy words. According to the Hotline, GOP voter outreach and Get Out the Vote efforts are looking more successful than ever:
Why The White House Has To Be Optimistic
Perhaps the biggest danger to Republicans in the wake of all these bad polls is that their volunteer base, so critical to victory in 2004, won't put their heart in their work. If volunteers become convinced that Republicans will lose control of Congress, what incentive do they have to work hard?
If you're ever read a profile of Ken Mehlman, you know he is obsessed with metrics. For him, one of the most important sources of data is a weekly e-mail his political team prepares called the "Weekly Grassroots Report." It meticulously records the work of tens of thousands of volunteers in targeted states, counties and congressional districts across the country. The data summary allows the RNC to determine which states are meeting goals and which states are falling behind.
The RNC declined to share the most recent report, which was issued Monday. But two independent sources who saw last week's report professed to be surprised: not only was their no drop off last week, 12 states broke new voter contact records.
In a month, the party completed more than a million phone calls and door contacts conbined. Bigger states are putting up big numbers -- even Ohio, which lagged behind its targets all summer, has caught up. The RNC is particularly pleased with their progress in New Jersey, where they've rapidly set up a more aggressive version of their 72 Hour Program in light of the state's more competitive Senate race.
These are the numbers that motivate Karl Rove's optimism. The spreadsheets show that Republican volunteers are working hard. There are plenty of volunteers and they seem plenty willing to knock on doors and make telephone calls. That's why it makes sense for Rove, for White House pol. dir Sara Taylor, and for Mehlman to exude uncanny optimism even while their brains pour [sic ]over pessimistic polls. Right now, a strong volunteer corps on election day working to turn out voters is the only hope they've got. If the volunteers detect a shred of defeatist cross-talk or come across a newspaper article suggesting that Rove is panicked, then they'll start to panic, too.
The point is that top-level Republican optimism is pragmatic, not ignorant. [MARC AMBINDER]
I think Ambinder ought to have changed his headline and shifted the tone of his piece. The real point here is the one I highlighted in the last line: GOP optimism is pragmatic, not ignorant. The point is not that they are being optimistic to keep volunteers working; it's that the work of those volunteers leads to optimism.
Is it possible that all those volunteers and all those phone calls are going to waste? Are GOP voters so dispirited that getting them to the polls will be like trying to wring blood from a stone? I suppose. But given that this is the same machine that took the dispirited base which expected a Bush loss in 2004, and turned it into record-shattering turnout, how likely is that?
After all, this effort doesn't need to elect a President, it only needs to limit losses to 15 seats in the House and 5 or so in the Senate. I think there's a decent chance it can do that.
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