The political ads are almost done, and you’ll soon have a lot more room in your mailbox. All that’s left is for the campaigns and political parties to get you to vote in Tuesday's election. In California, Democrats have held a clear edge in turnout operations in recent years. But Republicans say they’re catching up.
Across the street from the state Capitol, in the old Senator Hotel, California Republican Party volunteers are working the phones. Some use their personal cell phones; others use landlines pre-programmed with voter phone numbers.
Field representative Nithin Mathew acknowledges his party’s turnout operations have lagged behind Democrats in past election cycles. But he says the GOP’s technology has vastly improved in the last two years – for example, using smart-phone apps in the field.
“Because we’re so focused on having quality control with voter communications, our data integrity has increased significantly,” Mathew says. “And I think this election will show that we’re playing at the next level. Not only have we caught up; pretty soon people will be talking about the Democrats will be having to play catch-up with us.”
Not so fast, says Tenoch Flores with the California Democratic Party. This is the third election cycle since the state party overhauled its turnout operation, and Flores says Democrats have made 4.8 million phone calls or door knocks since early summer. The GOP didn’t provide a figure.
“Democrats have done a good job in recent years in making sure we utilize technology to complement our on-the-ground efforts,” Flores says. “And we’re confident that this year, we’ll prove again that the Democratic Party has the strongest get-out-the-vote operation in the state.”
Neither party is working to turn voters out statewide. Instead, each is focusing on targeted legislative and congressional districts where party turnout could be the difference between winning and losing. That’s particularly true in swing Senate and Assembly races with Democrats’ legislative supermajority hanging in the balance.