In the final two weeks of the campaign, Republicans and Democrats will be spending late nights and early mornings working to ensure they get their voters to the polls.
While Democrats out-mobilized the GOP in 2012, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is hoping its intensive focus on turning around its ground game will pay off come Election Day.
In August, the RNC announced plans to pour an additional $8 million into Get-Out-the-Vote
(GOTV) efforts in states with close Senate races. In total, the RNC plans to spend at least $100 million on mobilization efforts this cycle.
"For months we’ve been in communities building relationships and helping state parties and campaigns with data and technology, and we’re excited for the opportunity to help turn out voters on the road to winning six seats and taking back the Senate," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement.
The RNC also created register.gop
, which is intended to make gaining access to voter registration easier and to promote early and absentee ballot voting.
Another critical component of the GOP's midterm strategy is Victory 365
, a year-round voter engagement effort that is focused on voter outreach on the precinct level.
According to its website, Victory 365 has recruited 13,000 precinct captains across the country that are responsible for "identifying, recruiting, and building relationships with voters in their communities. We believe precinct level engagement combined with improved voter contact will lead to better persuasion and activation of voters."
In Colorado, Republicans are hoping a strong ground effort will make a difference, particularly in the tight Senate race between incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Udall and his GOP challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner.
"We have been working nonstop since 2012, ensuring we have the best data available, the best ground game, the best technology," state GOP communications director Owen Loftus told The Colorado Statesman
According to Loftus, Republicans have 14 field offices open throughout the state, which is a record level.
The latest Quinnipiac poll
has Gardner with a 6-point lead over Udall.
Georgia is another state where Republicans are hoping a strengthened grass-roots effort will make a difference in the close race for an open Senate seat between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue. The latest poll
shows Nunn and Perdue in a statistical dead heat, with Perdue getting 44.72 percent of those polled and Nunn securing 45.69 percent. The margin of error was 2.49 percent.
In the Peach State, Republicans have 17 satellite offices located throughout the state, while Democrats have seven, reports The Washington Post
Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University, told the Post that Republicans are "laying the foundation to make sure they’re not also-rans in future elections."
Democrats, for their part, are not sitting on the sidelines.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has poured $60 million into the Bannock Street Project, a voter outreach operation that will focus heavily on getting women to the polls, reports MSNBC
"If the Bannock Street Project is doing what it claims it is doing, which is convincing moderate propensity voters to vote, then once the early voting really piles up, the polls should shift in a Democratic direction," political scientist Michael McDonald told the Post
Democrats have some cause for concern if minority, particularly black, voters do not come out to vote on Nov. 4.
"African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014," Cornell Belcher, a former pollster for President Obama, wrote in an Oct. 1 confidential memo, according to the New York Times
. "In fact, over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place."
While Democrats focus on black voters, conservatives also are aware of the importance of getting the base to the polling places.
Conservative Christian groups are using the 2014 elections as a trial run for the 2016 presidential contests.
"The 2014 midterms are a crucial test of evangelical influence and strength. I think most evangelical leaders understand we are in a period of pretty radical transition in this society," Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Politico
Turnout among religious and evangelical voters will be important this cycle, but it is a challenge that the movement's leaders acknowledge.
"We’re trying to change the turnout model, and we’re trying to educate, motivate, mobilize, and turn out as many faith-based voters in these key states as we possibly can. The main thing we are road-testing is our home visits and our digital. We will look at both of those in our after-action review and determine how decisive they were," says Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which plans to spend $8 million on the 2014 midterm elections and has 13 field offices in five states with close Senate races.
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