Friday, October 20, 2006

Mehlman: The Base is Motivated

Ken Mehlman has shared a summary of why the GOP believes their base is sufficiently motivated to do well in the midterms:

Friday, October 20, 2006
Memorandum From RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman To Republican Activists And Interested Parties On Republican Motivation

DATE: OCTOBER 20, 2006

In recent days and weeks, the mainstream media have repeatedly claimed that the Republican base is suffering from “low voter enthusiasm.” It is easy to believe a story that is repeated so frequently, but in fact there is ample evidence to the contrary. By many measures, there are strong indications of a right-of-center base that is engaged and committed.

First, numerous polls clearly indicate near parity in intensity between Democrats and Republicans. Three recent national surveys—Gallup, Cook/RT Strategies, and our most recent RNC survey conducted by Voter/Consumer Research—all show partisan interest is approximately equal. The details of those polls are below:

Voter/Consumer Research (Oct. 8-10)

The RNC’s internal research shows election interest at 7.7 on a 10-point scale among Republicans and 7.6 among Democrats, unchanged from late September and in line with this year’s overall trend.

Gallup (Oct. 6-8)

To quote from Gallup’s voter turnout projection, “Gallup's latest analysis suggests Republicans and Democrats are now roughly even in terms of anticipated turnout in the midterm congressional elections. The voting intentions of the large pool of registered voters is now similar to the voting intentions of the smaller pool of likely voters, showing no disproportionate impact of turnout in either direction”

Gallup asked, “How motivated do you feel to get out and vote this year -- extremely motivated, very motivated, somewhat motivated, not too motivated or not at all motivated?(% “extremely” or “very” motivated)” The following table shows that the GOP in fact now holds a slight lead, up from just a few months ago:

[Graphic doesn't work on this page; please see link for this data - The Editor]

Cook/RT Strategies (Oct. 5-8)

On a scale of one to 10, Republicans and Democrats have almost equally high mean election interest scores (8.2 for Republicans, 8.1 for Democrats), but Democrats hold a slight edge in the percentage of their voters who are “highly interested”—47 to 51 percent.

However, keeping in mind the local nature of midterm elections, it is more important to consider intensity by state or congressional district. RT Strategies/Constituent Dynamics (conducted Oct. 8-10) released district-by-district polling showing Republicans have a slight edge in partisan intensity. GOP “voter motivation” is higher than Democratic motivation in 19 of 32 competitive House races, in some cases by as much as a full point on a 1 to 9 scale. Democratic intensity is higher in the remaining 13, and in none of those races is the difference higher than 2/3 of a point.

Additional Data

A recent Pew study (9/21-10/4) found that while roughly similar numbers of Republicans (41%) and Democrats (39%) are “regular” voters, more Republicans (25%) than Democrats (20%) vote intermittently—meaning there are more of our voters for us to turn out in a midterm election. Furthermore, Democrats (20%) are substantially more likely than Republicans (14%) to not be registered to vote at all.

Other Measures of Intensity

There are ways besides polls to measure the intensity of the Republican base, and those also indicate that GOP voters are strongly engaged. Fundraising, for example, is often called the ‘first ballot’ for the simple reason that supporters only donate when they are involved and enthusiastic. That is why we are excited that the RNC received support from 362,000 new donors this cycle. We’ve averaged 8,256 contributions for each deposit day so far this year. We just announced that September has been our best financial month of the entire cycle. Our supporters know how important this election is, and their financial support shows it.

Volunteer enthusiasm is another key measure of intensity. Again, every indication here is that our base is working hard for victory in the 2006 election. Republican volunteers have contacted more than 14 million voters this year, and more than 7 million since Labor Day alone. We have made 1 million voter contacts every week for the past five weeks, and for six weeks we have surpassed the number of contacts we made at comparable times in 2004, a presidential election year.

The Bottom Line

Despite the media hype, an examination of all the facts makes it clear: the Republican base is active and engaged. No matter how you measure it—whether by record-breaking fundraising, unprecedented volunteerism, or scientific polling—the numbers show that Republicans understand the importance of the choice we all face on November 7.

I'm not sure how one can reconcile this data and this argument with the tendency of pollsters to sample more Democrats than Republicans this year, because (it is said) the electorate this year will be disproportionately Democrat. Is there a way they can both be right, or is one in for a surprise on election day?

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