One of the more interesting GOTV efforts this season has been undertaken by Citizens for Community Values (CCV) and its volunteers. In addition to mailings and phone calls targeting social conservatives in the state, the group is registering and courting Amish and Mennonite potential voters. Traditionally, many in these groups shun voting as a “worldly” endeavor, preferring prayer to proactive involvement in government affairs. They will, however, occasionally rally for a specific issue or candidate. In 2004, President Bush campaigned successfully in Amish areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania and increased both voter registration and turnout in this population.
Sue Ann Miller, who lives in Holmes County, said that she has worked with several friends, setting up tables at auctions and Bloodmobiles frequented by the Amish to encourage voter registration this year. “We worked right up till the registration cut off date of October 9. The Amish were very open to hear what we had to say and many signed up to vote for the first time.” Miller and others told the Amish about the president’s policies on abortion and same-sex marriage and warned them that their religious freedom would be in danger if Obama were to win a second term. “Most of them agreed and many of them registered on the spot or took the forms home to fill out and send in. “
CCV has also placed ads in the Amish and Mennonite community newspapers, including The Budget, which reaches 95% of Amish homes. The ad said that readers should think of their country as they do their garden:
Every good gardener knows prayer is essential for a good harvest…but so too are planting, cultivating, and tending it throughout the growing season. Likewise, our nation is currently in a political season, a time our Founding Fathers envisioned for pruning and planting when they established our Constitution. While it is vitally important to pray for Godly leaders, it is also imperative we take action to ensure a bountiful harvest. That means becoming informed on candidates and issues, being registered, and exercising our Christian citizenship by voting.
While this won’t translate into 10,000 votes for Romney, it could add a couple thousand to his bottom line on Election Day, which could be critical if the election is close.
One group that is investing heavily with time and boots on the ground is Americans for Prosperity. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear something from AFP, whether it’s a piece of mail, a phone call, or one of their non-stop radio ads in my area (the Cleveland market). If we manage to oust Obama and his rubber stamp liberal senator, Sherrod Brown, we should all send thank you notes (and donations) to Americans for Prosperity, in particular, for their unwavering support of Brown’s opponent, Josh Mandel. In a press release last week, AFP Ohio described their efforts in Ohio:
In the last two months, the “Obama’s Failing Agenda Bus Tour” has made pit stops at over 250 cities nationally, including 21 in Ohio. Ohio has made over 620,000 calls statewide and knocked on over 6,000 doors talking to citizens concerned about the economy. AFP-Ohio has 10 staff on the ground, 7 statewide offices and boasts over 112,000 activists statewide.
They planned to make a million phone calls in Ohio this past weekend and just made an additional $170,000 “War on Coal” radio ad buy.
Other outside groups are working hard to sway the election in Romney’s direction next month. The NRA is in my mailbox and on my answering machine weekly, sometimes daily. They’ve been running frequent radio ads against Sherrod Brown and they’re running anti-Obama, pro-2nd Amendment TV ads in swing states. The Tea Party Patriots produced a video expose on Obamacare, called The Determinators, which has been mailed to 360,000 micro-targeted undecided voters in six swing states, including Ohio.
Again, by and large, the outside groups are running in the anti-Obama, anti-Brown, anti-Democrat direction rather than outright promoting Mitt Romney and other Republicans.
While all this is encouraging news and the polls are trending in Romney’s direction, there’s an important word of caution. The unions and other special interest groups are also expending considerable resources to defeat Romney. Though it didn’t receive as much attention as Wisconsin’s union fight, Ohio Republicans went to war with labor unions last year and lost when the unions poured millions of dollars into a referendum to repeal the GOP’s union reform law. They convinced 62% of Ohioans to vote to support “workers’ rights.” In the process, the unions registered new voters and updated their databases. And because Citizens United now gives them the ability to expend union resources to contact non-union voters, that database has vastly expanded their ground game in the state. This represents potentially millions of names over and above the official Obama campaign contacts.
While we can look at raw numbers and count campaign offices and dollars spent on advertising, they don’t tell the whole story. As far as the campaigns’ ground games are concerned, Ohio should be considered a toss-up state until Election Day.
Also read: Are PA and MN Slipping Away from Obama?