Insiders: Democrats More Confident in Ground Game
In assessing the all-important "ground game" in the presidential race, National Journal's Political Insiders were split. But Democrats were by far more confident of their own party's mastery of the nuts and bolts of field organizing than Republicans.
A full 98 percent of Democrats believed they had the edge in this arena, while six out of ten Republicans said the same for their own team's mastery of the campaign art.
Which party has the better ground game in the presidential race?
"Huge Democratic advantage in the ground game may be the game changer," said one Democrat.
Many Insiders of both stripes referenced the fact that Democrats had more time to build a formidable organization in swing states while Mitt Romney was still busy staving off primary rivals. Obama also had the advantage of test-running a successful operation in 2008.
"While Mitt was wasting his money fighting with Rick [Perry], then Herman [Cain], then Newt [Gingrich], then Rick [Santorum], Obama was building a grassroots juggernaut. Now we're about to see how well it flies," one Democrat said.
"Obama had no primary, so they have had the luxury of building a ground game for two years. Momentum, however, often trumps boots on the ground," a GOP Insider said.
Several noted that it was a stark change from the days when Republicans, with renowned Bush strategist Karl Rove at the helm, had clearly outgunned Democrats at the same game.
"This is one of the great reversals in modern political history -- it looked like Rove's turnout operation would help cement durable Republican majorities. But Chicago found a way to catch up and surpass them at their own game," one Democrat remarked.
Many, nonetheless, cautioned that Republicans should not be underestimated this year. In 2008, the GOP was surprised by the strength of Obama's efforts on the ground and heavily outspent. It's a far more even playing field four years later.
"Team Obama proved in '08 they know how to mobilize voters, and they've been building new tools and road-testing practices over the past three years. They have an army of paid staff in the key states to organize their huge volunteer base," one Democrat said. "But the Right shouldn't be underestimated. They're investing more in the ground game than in '08."
"Democrats are culturally better at this due to labor and civil-rights roots -- but Romney's ground game is best I've ever seen for Republicans," a Republican added.
"Republicans and Romney have caught up and surpassed the vaunted Obama turnout operation," yet another Republican said.
A few pointed out the results in the Wisconsin recall, in which supporters of Republican Gov. Scott Walker withstood a challenge from the labor movement -- one of the biggest organizers for the Obama campaigns.
"Watch Wisconsin go Romney-Ryan," one Republican said. "The Republicans can thank the Walker recall move by labor for the victory."
"The Obama campaign will again set the standard, but the GOP has surprising stealth power, as witnessed in the Scott Walker recall in Wisconsin," a Democrat said.