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February 12, 2016

Inside House Democrats’ Expanding Ground Game

In the face of a challenging midterm environment, Democrats are relying on money and an expanding get-out-the-vote effort to avoid losing any more ground in the House. But what does that souped-up ground game look like?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s fundraising advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee is well-documented by this point. And DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said his party plans to out-organize Republicans in the fall.

The DCCC has 444 field staff on the ground in 48 districts, according to an official spokesperson, with another 219 scheduled to start later this month. The committee started August with at least 20 field staff in 11 districts.

The field effort is starting earlier than in previous cycles. The first permanent staffer started in early January in a competitive California district, which is about six months earlier than before.

In a competitive district in the Northeast in 2012, the DCCC deployed four field staff, including one field director and three field organizers in two offices. This cycle, in the same district, Democrats have 19 field staff, including one field director, three regional field directors and 15 field organizers, in four field offices to date.

Democratic strategists believe a renewed focus on districts with high minority populations (including black and Hispanic voters, for example) and that featured close races in 2012 are prime places to focus get-out-the-vote operations this time around. Democrats will try to mute the drop-off from a presidential election in Arizona’s 2nd District, California’s 26th District, Florida’s 2nd District, and Texas’ 23rd District, which all saw tight winning margins in 2012.

This is all part of the DCCC’s plan “to secure commitments from 1 million supporters to vote in November — an effort that will be the centerpiece of the party’s fall turnout operation,” as Alexandra Jaffe wrote in The Hill recently.

Democrats on the House and Senate side are extremely focused on their ground games for the fall. But this year will test the limits of GOTV plans.

  • PortageMain

    Despite what Pelosi and Israel might say, there is no “expanding House Democrat ground game”. House Democrats efforts this fall are purely defensive in nature and will aim to hold on to as many of their current seats as possible. There are practically no Republican-held seats in play, certainly not enough to give Dems a majority in the House, even if the Dems won all of them.

    • YoureClueless

      This is hilariously untrue. Most of the pure-tossup races are for seats that are currently held by Republicans but where incumbents retired. IA-03, NJ-03, and VA-10 are very obviously in play. CA-31, FL-02, CO-06, NE-02, and IL-13 are obviously in play too, despite Democratic challengers facing GOP incumbents. To say that there aren’t any Republican-held seats in play is just a fantasy. It’s entirely incorrect.

      • PortageMain

        That might be what you “wish” I said, but what I actually said was “There are practically no Republican-held seats in play” and “not enough to give the Dems a majority in the House, even if the Dems won all of them”. Even if the Dems won all 8! of the districts you mention that are in play to some extent, and managed to hold onto AZ-2, CA-52, etc they are still not even close to winning a majority in the House. Dems obviously have a bunch of money to spend and will throw some of it at the smattering of Republican-held seats where they have at least an outside chance, but mostly they’re playing defense this cycle to avoid losing any more ground in the House, as Nathan said in the first paragraph of the article.

        FYI, a majority of pure “toss-up” seats are not currently held by Republicans:

        Two of them are, but the other 5 are held by Democrats.
        So, yes, I think your name is a good fit.

        • YoureClueless

          Well, no, you claimed that the DCCC/Democrats’ efforts are “purely defensive” and that is of course a complete fantasy, as anyone who even remotely understands elections in the country recognizes. The Democrats are in reality playing in more Republican-held districts than the Republicans are in Democratic-held districts.

          One forecasters opinion (especially a forecaster who was HILARIOUSLY incorrect in the last midterm) doesn’t actually determine what is a pure tossup seat. His inclusion of IL-10 to that rating is laughable, and his omission of several seats in particular (FL-02, NE-02, VA-10, NJ-03) speaks to how behind he is this cycle. Amusingly he waited until *after* Republican Chip Maxwell declared that he would not be running an Independent candidacy in NE-02 to give the race a more competitive rating, rather than making it a pure tossup for the entire month that Maxwell was considering the bid.

          No matter, even his poor ratings reflect that the Democrats are all but assured two pickups in NY-11 and CA-31 to offset the losses due to retirements in NC-07 and UT-04. Even if we were to invoke Rothenberg’s GOP-friendly ratings, he has the exact same number of Democratic and Republican seats in his Tossup/Tilt categories (9 each). The idea that the DCCC is solely playing defense is a fantasy.

          • PortageMain

            You just keep telling yourself that

          • Tom Servo

            I think you’re talking to a DCCC staffer, so don’t expect anything different. He’s being paid to troll the net and try to convince people that Dems are actually popular right now.

          • YoureClueless

            Yes, I’m going to keep telling myself facts that completely refute your delusions.

          • Good_Lt

            The Democrats are playing defense this fall.

            Deal with it.

    • derpdominguez

      Google “red to blue”, eat some crow and have a nice day.

      • PortageMain

        You’re new at this aren’t you?

        • derpdominguez

          Not at all. You? Its in plain black and white. But nice baseless insult, really pushing the dialogue forward. Lol.

          • PortageMain

            Googling “red to blue” takes me to the DCCC website: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Of course they’re going to say a Dem wave is building and Reps are going to lose dozens of seats. I fail to see how the DCCC website is proof of anything

          • derpdominguez

            Are you trying to be dumb? It sure sounds like it. They don’t just pick random races without researching the possibilities. And every major DCCC campaign has a massively expanded field program compared to 2012. So, you’re statement was false, uninformed and ignorant, and you were called out on it, so you should just suck it up and admit you were wrong. Now, this might not MEAN anything come election day, I think it will, but that last response was monumentally stupid.

          • PortageMain

            The DCCC is PAID to say that. Do you believe everything they say?

          • derpdominguez

            omfg no, that’s not the point. They are going to be pumping millions into each of those races. They are chosen based on demographic competitiveness. Hence the massively expanded field game.

            I really don’t get why you are fighting this issue. Like I said, it may not matter how many organizer are on the ground in a mid-term year, but you can’t just deny that it’s happening. Republicans rank their races in the exact same way, they just focus on increased funding as opposed to the recent success Democratic campaigns have had with a robust field program.

            Not sure how that entails that I believe everything the DCCC says. What I certainly do believe is how they say they will spend their money. It’s pretty simple, bud, not sure what the hold up is here.

          • PortageMain

            Dems spent a fortune on House seats in 2010 and 2012 and we know how that worked out. Money and organizers aren’t going to be enough.

            And where exactly are the “recent success Democratic campaigns have had with a robust field program”?

          • derpdominguez

            That’s great. They didn’t spend it on organizers on those occasions. Trust me, there has never been this expansive of a field program at the House level before. I’m 100% -certain- of this. Fill in the blanks as you will.

            Field was difference between a modest victory and a blowout for Obama in 2012. Several swing states were run on the ground. McAuliffe implemented a strong field campaign in that spirit. Plenty of other examples.

            Do some research if you don’t believe me, I’m not going to do all the work for you. But good field programs absolutely increase turnout, and being that turnout is a major problem for Democrats in every mid-term, not just one with their party in the White House. We’ll see how the shift in strategy plays out. Never did I say this will lead to a Democratic sweep. Neither did the author. So just relax, and look some of that stuff up if you don’t believe me.

          • PortageMain

            Here are a few stats for you. Dems managed to increase their seat total in the House by a full 8! seats between 2010 and 2012, even with Obama at the top of the ticket in 2012. At that rate, Dems should gain control of the House by about 2020. McAuliffe barely won in VA despite Dem predictions showing he was going to win by a blowout and outspending Cuccinelli 2 to 1. The Dems may have a small money advantage in the House races but not enough to outspend every Republican in a swing seat by 2 to 1. And Obama’s blowout victory of 4% of the popular vote in 2012? Any House seat won by that small a margin would be considered a swing seat

          • derpdominguez

            This is why I avoid comment sections. You are making a very simple concept seem like Rocket Science. I’ve already spelled out the difference between 2010/12 and this year. No one with a brain though McAuliffe would win in a blowout.

            And then you compare Presidential turnout nationwide to turnout in different years in a state-wide or congressional race. You clearly have no idea what you are talking about, or what I’m talking about for that matter.

            Go use the google machine and do some research on field campaigns from 2004 on. I won’t be responding to another one of your purposefully naive comments. Have a good day.

          • PortageMain

            Fine with me. You stay in your little fantasyland where field campaigns can turn a sows ear into a silk purse.

            McAuliffe was widely expected to win by a much larger margin than he did:

        • derpdominguez

          Not quite.

  • frantterdaw

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  • johnnydrama

    meanwhile the GOP is too busy waging war on its own base to actually try to win elections.

  • Reverend Right

    Democratic strategists believe a renewed focus on districts with high minority populations (including black and Hispanic voters, for example) and that featured close races in 2012 are prime places to focus get-out-the-vote operations this time around.

    War on Whites.

    • derpdominguez

      by focusing on minority turnout? sorry?

  • Bobo

    Watch for fraud from the Democrats, as always. Voter fraud and dishonesty is the only thing that keeps them in half of these races.

  • j Ray

    It won’t matter how many votes you steal or many absentee ballots you forge, the American people know exactly how scummy and evil you Democrats are. Accept your butt kicking like men.

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