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Training Tuesday: The Numbers You Need To Win Your Election - Part 2

by: SumofChange

Tue Feb 02, 2010 at 11:52:29 AM EST

( - promoted by KathyinBlacksburg)

originally posted by Mitch Malasky at Sum of Change

This week, we are going to follow up on last week's post on the numbers you need to win your election.  This week, we're looking at special circumstances and unique elections and how that may or may not effect how you set your numbers.

SumofChange :: Training Tuesday: The Numbers You Need To Win Your Election - Part 2
First, what happens if you are running in a multi-candidate race?  A win number in a two candidate election is 50% +1, but when there are multiple candidates that number is going to change.  That said, it's never a case of simple math - your win number in a three person election won't necessarily be 33.3% +1 - and you have to be wise in setting your goals.  The second video is about how your numbers may change due to major national issues.  The obvious issue of our day is healthcare, but from the war on terror to the economy, there are often major issues outside of your control as a a candidate which will alter the turnout for your election.  The final video are some stories from our trainer, Kendra-Sue Derby, on how you should constantly be challenging your own numbers.  A campaign should never be satisfied or static in their evaluation of the electorate, so it is important to keep changing and updating that number to maximize a campaigns effectiveness (hint: expected turnout almost never goes down).

--Turnout In A Multi Candidate Race

--How Do Your Turnout Estimate Based on Major National Issues

--Stories of Challenging Turnout Expectations

This slew of videos are from Democracy For America's Campaign Academy. This particular session was filmed at Gettysburg college in Gettysburg, PA. To find out more about Democracy For America's Campaign Academy, go to http://www.democracyforamerica...

To see more training videos, go to

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Rule No. 1
The first rule in determining the numbers a candidate needs to win is to never think that the past will be repeated. Yes, turnout will more often than not reflect past elections. However, the composition of that turnout will depend on the issues that are energizing people for that specific election.

Take November 2009 in Virginia as an example. One mistake that the Deeds campaign made was assuming that people who turned out for Barack Obama would turn out for Deeds. Hardly. The two men are completely different, and the turnout was different.

Deeds was not going to reach the same number of Independents who voted for President Obama, either. He absolutely needed to energize the base of his party. He did not do that. The Independents who bothered to vote went for McDonnell, while the Dems stayed home because Deeds was chasing some moderate middle.

It takes someone able to read the potential electorate for a specific election to guess a winnable number of voters based on turnout.

Thanks again for an informative post!

The moderate middle
is, IMO, a myth in real life.

I say this because, first, what is the middle? It is not, repeat not, what Republicans and pundits try to claim it is since the Great Wrench under Reagan when the GOP lurched so far to the right, dragging the political spectrum behind them, distorting the old center into "leftist," and making the old left into some socialist fringe.

Second, I think that the so-called middle varies from issue to issue, and you are hard put to find an actual human voter who is on the fence between one side or the other on every issue. When the Republicans say "middle" they are trying to convince Democrats (and the public) that this really means their rather extreme conservative views on everything, including taxes, big government, even abortion; since their voters are more likely to vote, we have a distorted view of what "America" actually thinks if you go by vote tallies. Deeds fell for that definition of middle. He lost.

A switch is either on or off. A voter is on one side or the other, or he is indifferent on that issue, and therefore not motivated by it. Democrats have to stand for something, not pretend to be in the mythical middle.  

[ Parent ]
So Right!
Absolutely right about "Democrats have to stand for something."

I never knew what Creigh stood for, other than a sort of mushy "moderate" muddle.

The sad fact is that unless we motivate our voters, the GOP will outpoll Dems in many parts of Virginia. The telling thing about how very bad the Deeds campaign was lies in the fact that McDonnell was able to capture most of Northern Virginia.

Turnout was below 2005. We did not get our voters out. If that happens in the fall, it's going to be a long night in November.

[ Parent ]
Another fallacy:
Alongside the myth of uniform (rather than selective, issue by issue) "moderate middle" (or "moderate muddle", as Elaine so aptly calls it), there is the myth of the "independent centrist". The "independent centrist" and the "moderate middle" roam the same woods that unicorns do. Yet, when the Dem pols come a-courting, it's always those mythical creatures they want to chase. Their liberal base -- very much real -- could use some love too? Perish the thought!

[ Parent ]
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