GOP sees 63% surge of volunteers, edge in early voting

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Oh what a difference a presidential debate victory makes.

Republican officials revealed Tuesday that since Mitt Romney's commanding performance in last Wednesday's debate, there has been a 63 percent surge of volunteers to GOP offices, Republican voter enthusiasm has grown and requests for absentee ballots used by early voters favor the party in the battleground states of Florida, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada.

The volunteer wave is key for get out the vote efforts and reverses a troubling trend due to a lack of enthusiasm for Romney before the debate. Republican National Committee Political Director Rick Wiley said all that changed with the debate and now Romney voters are "much more enthusiastic about casting their ballots."

In a memo to supporters, Wiley crowed about Romney's new political fortune while taking a shot at President Obama. In touting numbers of volunteers and absentee ballot requests, for example, he slapped the Obama campaign for bragging about how many offices they've opened around the nation, "some of which we've found sitting idle," said Wiley.

Below is his memo:

MEMO

FROM: RNC Political Director Rick Wiley

TO: Interested Parties

RE: Four Weeks Out

With Election Day only four weeks away, Republicans head into the final stretch with growing momentum. Our ground game is showing impressive results, boosted by Gov. Romney's stellar debate performance. Our absentee and early voting operation is robust and in full gear. And the enthusiasm is on our side, just as voters in more than thirty states begin casting ballots.

GROUND GAME VOTER CONTACTS

This past weekend produced another successful Super Saturday for the GOP. More than 30,000 volunteers participated and made 2.5 million volunteer voter contacts in a single day, bringing the week's total to 5 million contacts.

Since the spring, nearly 98,000 individuals have volunteered their time to make phone calls or knock on doors. In total, they have made more than 35 million voter contacts, including 6.5 million door knocks. Volunteers have made four times more phone calls and knocked on thirteen times more doors than at this point in the 2008 campaign. That's nearly three times as many doors knocks made by Republicans in all of 2008.

The commitment shown by our volunteers will carry us to victory. Since Wednesday night's debate, our Victory Offices have seen a 63% increase in volunteer traffic. Many Americans are signing up and getting involved for the first time this cycle as the choice in this election becomes clearer. Starting this past weekend, the RNC began deploying busloads of volunteers to Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Nevada to make phone calls and knock on doors.

The Obama campaign loves to tout the number of offices they've opened - some of which we've found sitting idle during this crucial period. But offices, especially empty ones, can't contact voters. Volunteers are the true measure of a campaign's strength and essential to a successful ground game. We know because we've seen the results.

(State-by-state voter contact breakdowns are included below.)

ABSENTEE AND EARLY VOTING

After identifying 3.2 million voters since the spring, we have now moved into our Get-Out-The-Vote phase of the campaign, focused on absentee ballots and early voting. More Americans are expected to vote early or absentee this year than in any previous election. From the beginning, our operation has been designed around this reality. This past Super Saturday, volunteers in every battleground state promoted early voting to Romney supporters, while also encouraging voters to apply for absentee ballots or mail back their ballots in certain states.

We are also harnessing the power of social media to encourage voter registration and absentee and early voting. We have built a Facebook application explicitly for this purpose, and we have invested in paid media targeting key states to raise awareness and make sure voters have the information they need to register and meet relevant deadlines.

In at least four key swing states in 2008, Obama won handily among early voters, allowing him to win those state without winning the actual Election Day vote. He will not have the same early vote lead this year because our Absentee Balloting operation is producing promising results. In Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada Republicans have requested more absentee ballots than Democrats. While we run programs in every battleground state, not all states track ballots by voter identification, so we can only measure our progress in certain ones.

As of Saturday, Republicans had requested 656,813 absentee ballots in Colorado, compared to Democrats' 627,064, according to records from the Secretary of State. In North Carolina, more than 52% of all ballot requests have come from Republicans, whereas Democrats account for only 27% of requests and unaffiliated voters, 21%.

In Florida, 43.4% of absentee ballot requests came from Republicans, 39% from Democrats. Republicans have an even larger advantage in returned absentee ballots: 45.5% to 38%.

In Nevada, absentee ballot requests favor Republicans 43.9% to 39.2%, with some smaller GOP-leaning counties not reporting. We expect our advantage in Nevada therefore to be even larger.

VOTER ENTHUSIASM

A POLITICO/GWU poll released Monday shows Romney voters are much more enthusiastic about casting their ballots. Among Romney supporters, 86% described themselves as "extremely likely" to vote. But among Obama supporters, only 73% say the same.

Enthusiasm affects turnout. A tepid supporter is less likely to cast a ballot. The POLITICO poll illustrates what this could mean for the final tally. Among "extremely likely" voters, Gov. Romney is beating President Obama by six points.

Notably, the poll was conducted primarily before Wednesday night's debate, so we expect the enthusiasm gap will continue to widen.

Post-debate polls have moved in Gov. Romney's favor, including a Pew poll released Monday showing Gov. Romney with a four point lead.

***

All in all, we are extraordinarily proud of our ground game operation, extremely thankful for the work of our volunteers and incredibly confident in the results of our efforts. As I've written before, we have the most sophisticated turnout program ever put on the field in Republican politics.

***

VOTER CONTACT TOTALS BY BATTLEGROUND STATE

Florida:

7 times more phone calls and 59 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Over 8.5 million contacts since Spring

North Carolina:

7 times more phone calls and 121 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Nearly 3 million contacts since Spring

Ohio:

3 times more phone calls and 25 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Over 4.5 million contacts since Spring

Virginia:

7 times more phone calls and 11 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Nearly 4 million voter contacts since Spring

Colorado:

2 times more phone calls and 3 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Over 1.5 million voter contacts since Spring

Iowa:

4 times more phone calls and 14 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Nearly 1.5 million voter contacts since Spring

New Hampshire:

2 times more phone calls and 7 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Nearly 1 million voter contacts since Spring

Nevada:

3 times more phone calls and 8 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Nearly 1.5 million voter contacts since Spring

Michigan:

3 times more phone calls and 12 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Over 2 million voter contacts since Spring

Pennsylvania:

4 times more phone calls and 37 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Nearly 3.5 million voter contacts since Spring

Wisconsin:

4 times more phone calls and 45 times more door knocks than this time in '08

Nearly 2 million voter contacts since Spring