SPOTLIGHT

Field of Dreams

Guy Cecil of the Democratic Senetorial Campaign Committee. 
National Journal
Scott Bland
Feb. 6, 2014, 6:50 a.m.

The New York Times has the big Sen­ate story Thursday on Demo­crats’ plan to make the midterm elect­or­ate more friendly. It’s also an­oth­er sig­nal to al­lies about why the party needs help on TV.

— The DSCC will run a $60 mil­lion field op­er­a­tion, us­ing a staff of thou­sands to find, re­gister, and turn out eli­gible but ir­reg­u­lar voters in 10 states. If this was easy, it wouldn’t be in­ter­est­ing, but it might be the best path for­ward for Dems. The voters are out there: It took over 2 mil­lion voters to win North Car­o­lina in the 2008 and 2012 elec­tions, but Sen. Richard Burr (R) won in a re­l­at­ive land­slide with few­er than 1.5 mil­lion votes in 2010.

— The “Rising Amer­ic­an Elect­or­ate” on which Demo­crats rely so heav­ily (minor­it­ies, young people and un­mar­ried wo­men) turns out in droves in pres­id­en­tial years and grows each time, but it lags 10 years be­hind in midterms: RAE turnout in the 2010 midterms ba­sic­ally matched its 2000 pres­id­en­tial turnout. This turnout pro­ject is Demo­crats’ at­tempt to build a time ma­chine for the midterms.

— Don’t miss an im­port­ant sub­text in the NYT, where Sen­ate Dem strategists again not-so-subtly call for help in the TV war. AFP has already spent $27 mil­lion, most of it against Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors, and the me­dia has been full of ap­peals for big Demo­crat­ic donors to step up. DSCC dir­ect­or Guy Cecil say­ing he’s “not will­ing to sac­ri­fice the turnout op­er­a­tion” looks like an­oth­er nudge for help on the air­waves.

The early TV battle right now is catch­ing eyes now, but field pro­grams will play a crit­ic­al role later. Demo­crats will hope they have money be­hind both.

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