The pursuit of power by any means

As I wrote the other day, “The simple truth is that when it comes to dirty politics, Republicans are playing an entirely different game than the Democrats.”  Its not just the ads– it is any underhanded thing the Republicans can do to try and win elections.  As Kevin Drum summarizes, Republicans have stooped to bombarding Democratic voters with robocalls supposedly from Democratic candidates, but actually paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee with the hope that the Democratic voters will get so sick of being telephonically harassed that they won't vote.  When confronted with these venal tactics, the NRCC won't even apologize. 

If that's not enough, Republicans are using push-polls all over the place this election season, too.  Although the Republicans claim that they are just like telemarketing, they are, in fact, highly unethical because they use deception (the voter thinks they are responding to an actual survey, not a political attack) to keep people on the phone.  And no, Democrats do not do all this stuff too.

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Republican turnout

There's been a lot of talk from Republican quarters and the newsmedia to a lesser degree, that their supposedly vaunted turnout operations will save the day for them and limit their losses, maybe even to the point of saving control of the House.  As this analysis explains, probably not so…

Experiments on turnout by Alan Gerber and Donald
Green suggest that the most effective means of increasing turnout raise
it by less than 10 percent ?  and that?s for people who get canvassed
in person. None of this is to suggest that GOTV efforts are not
valuable. When 2000 or 200 votes decide an election there is no
question that GOTV efforts can make all the difference in the world.
But again, that is simply not the case that is being argued by GOP
operatives.

Can?t micro-targeting help them achieve spectacular successes?
Anyone who has ever modeled data knows there is much more salesmanship
than science in Republican claims about these efforts. Our firm and
others on the Democratic side have been using these models for half a
dozen years or more and we know they can make our efforts much more
efficient; expand our GOTV and persuasion universes; and provide
message guidance. So when races are otherwise marginal, the lift models
provide can make all the difference between winning and losing. But no
model is going to turn what would otherwise be a 5-point loss into a
victory.

But didn?t the GOP prove its efforts were much more effective than
the Democrats? in 2004? No. Check the data. In Ohio?s base Democratic
precincts turnout was 8.2 points higher than it had been in 2000. In
base Republican precincts, turnout increased by a slightly lesser 6.1
points. Winning a state is not the same as doing a better job on
turnout.

As important as turnout and GOTV efforts can be, the GOP needs to find something more to hold back this wave.

I don't think we're going to see huge Democratic gains, as some have predicted.  But I also think that Republicans planning on snatching victory from the jaws of defeat are in for a surprise.

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