My first diary was a report on my idea for a different kind of get out the vote effort. It was aimed at forming a multi-year effort rather than the usual presidential election spasm. The idea was to require a low enough effort of my volunteers that they would be willing to repeat the effort and do so even in non-presidential years.
I now have the final results of the vote in my precinct and was able to run an analysis on how well my block captains did. First let me say that I had talked about my plans with the local Obama staffer and she thought it was a great idea and agreed to coordinate with me so we could make a real test of the concept. I gave her a list of the blocks where I had been able to recruit block captains and she kept her people out of those blocks and worked the other blocks as normal.
Thus the test was between the block captain concept and the Obama campaign's very effective get out the vote effort. In analyzing the results I looked at the voter turnout of non-Republicans (Democrats and undeclared) in both the area of my precinct covered by my block captains and the area which wasn't covered. I deliberately set my goal high--to meet or exceed the turnout in 2008.
In the area of the precinct which was not covered, the turnout was 10% less in 2012 than the turnout in 2008. In the area of the precinct which was covered by my block captains, the turnout was 6% greater in 2012 than it was in 2008. In effect that is a 16% swing.
I am convinced that the block captain model is a success and I would urge others to adopt it--particularly for the upcoming tough 2014 election. More after the elegant apostrophe.
My original thought was to ask my block captains to work every election. That way they would keep contact with everyone, would be able to track who moved, who died, and who just came of voting age. They might also be able to bring some cognitive dissonance to the less fanatic of their Republican neighbors. This seems to me the ideal, but I have decided to ask my block captains only to commit to federal elections.
I live in Lima, Ohio and Allen County is dominated by the Republicans. All of the elected officials here are Republicans with the exception of some officially non-partisan positions--one judge, the mayor, and a few city councilmen. The Democratic party is rarely able to get anyone to run for a local office. This year we had a very strong candidate for county commissioner who was a well know small businesswoman. She campaigned hard, won debates, won grudging positive comments from the local (libertarian) newspaper, did good fundraising, and still only took a little over forty percent of the vote. At that she got almost as many votes as Senator Sherrod Brown.
If I can get others to recruit block captains in the other precincts and turn out near presidential numbers in 2014, we may then be able to recruit candidates for local office since we'll be able to point to numbers of votes which could be a winning margin in off years. Until that time the best I can do is make sure that statewide and federal candidates lose by less in Allen County than they usually do.
When state and federal candidates lose by less in Allen County, that may help them win statewide. When local candidates lose by less, they still lose.
My hope is that many people will start recruiting block captains in their own precincts all over the country. Everything that I did is readily available to anyone. (Again you can read the details of the plan in my first diary.) The hardest part of the job is recruiting the block captains. I simply checked the voting records from the Board of Elections and went to every faithful democrat (votes in all or almost all elections and only in Democratic primaries.)
When I recruited them I couldn't tell them whether neighbors calling neighbors would be successful--now you can tell them that this first test of the concept was successful. We need to win in 2014 and I think this block captain concept (neighbors calling neighbors) is the best chance we have of pulling that off.