A standard talking point used by the Obama campaign to buttress the notion that it has more momentum going in the last week of the race is that they have a better ground game in Ohio. Campaign manager Jim Messina said today: “We have 3.5 times as many local offices (in Ohio) as the Romney campaign and twice as many volunteers as OFA (Organizing for America) 2008.”
But that is a campaign-to-campaign comparison. Not all election organizing is done by the campaigns. The liberal magazine Nation warns its readers today that the Romney campaign has a lot of allies. The Republicans have, in effect, outsourced their get-out-the-vote efforts:
In recent years, Republicans have invested incredible sums to develop groups focused on grassroots organizing. American Majority, the dozens of State Policy Network institutes, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks and American Action Network are among the new or recently expanded conservative nonprofits that spend a significant amount of their budget just on organizing. AFP, which has a $140 million budget this year, up from $14 million in 2008, has about 200 paid staff going into the election.
These groups, along with the unprecedented effort by large employers and trade associations to coerce their employees into voting GOP, might more than level the ground game between Romney and Obama.
Take Ohio, the state that is likely to decide the election. In the Buckeye State, Obama has 131 field offices compared to Romney’s forty. That may seem like a stark difference until you consider Romney’s outside-money allies.
American Majority has four offices in Ohio directing efforts to bring people door-to-door to “Fire Obama;” Americans for Prosperity has six offices in the state and at least four paid organizers; and FreedomWorks is coordinating with at least seven local Tea Party groups to GOTV. Other right-wing groups sending field staff to Ohio: Heritage Action, the NRA, the Susan B. Anthony List, the Republican Jewish Coalition, Crossroads Generation, True the Vote and the Faith and Freedom Coalition.