MEMO from the Democratic National Committee

Date:     October 29, 2010
To:        Interested Parties
From:    Jen O’Malley Dillon
Re:        Get-Out-the-Vote Update


We are just a few days away from Election Day.  As we head into the final days of our Vote 2010 program, we wanted to update you on our closing effort.  On a variety of fronts – from fundraising to early vote to volunteer enthusiasm – Democrats have shown that they are invested in this election far more than the pundits would have believed. 

Enthusiasm Gap

Recent polling shows that Democrats have become more excited to vote and have narrowed the so-called “enthusiasm gap.”  Whereas Republican enthusiasm has remained stable, Democratic enthusiasm has increased.  According to Gallup polling, the gap in “very enthusiastic” voters between the two parties has closed by 50% since Labor Day (Gallup 8/29 and 10/24).  Ipsos/Reuters polling found that 72% of Democrats rated themselves between 8 and 10 on a 10-point likelihood to vote scale, up from 66% in late July.  The gap between Republicans and Democrats on that metric has closed by 15 points since July (Ipsos/Reuters 7/25 and 10/11).

Early Vote Returns

Voting has begun in key states across the country.  We have robust early vote and vote by mail programs to educate voters about the options available in their states.  All voter contact scripts include detailed voting information, and local events are geared towards driving voters to the polls.

 The Democratic Party collects early vote data and analyzes returns.  Results clearly show that the so-called Republican “surge” has not materialized in early vote.  Democrats are outpacing Republicans in key states and districts across the country, such as in WA, IL, OR, CA, IA, NC, MD, NM, OH, WV, and NV.  In many states, more sporadic and first time Democrats are voting – expanding the electorate with voters who might not get to the polls on Election Day.

Financial Commitment

In the spring, we pledged $50M of direct funds – including $20M in direct transfers to states and committees and $30M on Vote 2010 programs – to help Democrats win.  That was part of a $90M effort, including fundraising efforts.  We have not only met this commitment, we have exceeded it.

In the past few weeks, we have spent an additional $16M on Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) programs and paid advertising.  That brings our total commitment to $66M – more than any other midterm in history. Including increased money raised and money spent on behalf of candidates and committees, our total investment is over $115M.

We have spent the money strategically.  We have invested in staff in all 50 states, with an emphasis on key states and districts.  We have invested in paid media – with historic expenditures in the African American, Latino, and Asian American communities.  We have invested in cutting edge new media tools that have made it easier than ever for Democrats to get involved.  Finally, we have invested in the largest ground game in the history of midterm elections.

GOTV Events with President Obama

In the past few months, President Obama has hit the campaign trail hard – holding events and rallies on behalf of Democratic candidates, working to build Democratic enthusiasm, and helping to get out the vote.  

The President’s efforts have been instrumental in helping to close the enthusiasm gap.  At 10 recent campaign rallies – from Boston to Los Angeles to Columbus to Las Vegas – more than 184,000 people turned out to hear the President.  Tens of thousands more watched the rallies online.

In addition to the rallies, President Obama has reached out to core Democratic constituencies and volunteers to boost enthusiasm.  For example, the President is holding a series of 15 conference calls with Latinos, African Americans, young people, volunteers, and others to talk about the importance of voting and getting out the vote this year. 

Volunteer Surge

Organizing for America (OFA) volunteers have focused electorally in 2010, both through direct communications with supporters as well as partnering with campaigns and candidates in a united effort.  We are proud of our work, and are encouraged by recent trends.

The core of the Democratic GOTV effort is direct voter contact, conducted by skilled volunteers in their local communities.   Our experience has proven that neighbor to neighbor conversations are the most effective way to convince prospective voters to participate.  We measure our efforts through daily accountability measures that allow us to track what is working and whether our efforts are effective.

In 2008, we saw a steady ramp in the number of volunteers and voter contacts as soon as we passed Labor Day.  In 2010, we are seeing a similar surge in energy among volunteers, and exponential growth in the size of the Democratic ground game.  Supporters are engaged in local elections and are fully invested in achieving victory on November 2.

For the final 4 days of GOTV (Saturday to Tuesday), we have scheduled 169,787 volunteer shifts.  That number has increased by 15% since yesterday.

Voter Contact

Volunteers who fill GOTV shifts will knock on doors and make phone calls to target voters.  In less than 6 months, Democrats have made 72,167,153 volunteer door knocks and phone calls.  This represents twice the voter contact claimed by the Republican Party in half the time period.

Our numbers do not include paid IDs or robocalls.  And they do not include the millions of conversations volunteers have with voters that are not tracked in our systems. As the graph of door knocks and phone calls shows below, weekly voter contact attempts are now at 5 times the levels of September 1 and growing.

Door Knocks and Phone Calls over Time

Voter Contact Ramp 1028.png

Constituency Outreach

Democrats have worked hard to increase turnout among the 15 million voters who registered and voted for the first time in 2008.  But we are also reaching out to sporadic Democrats and other base voters.  Through millions of voter contact attempts, volunteers have done unprecedented outreach to key Democratic constituencies.

Compared to 2006, Democrats in 2010 have done 4-times the level of voter contact to African American, Latino, AAPI, and young voters.  This is part of a robust on the ground program that includes outreach through thousands of barbershop and beauty salon partners, community small business partners, congregation captains, and campus organizers.

Data and Targeting

Data collected from the millions of volunteer conversations helps us increase voter contact efficiency.  We have also built over 300 candidate-specific micro-targeting models.  These models ensure that we allocate resources wisely and that volunteers spend their time most effectively – reaching out to the voters we need to win.


Volunteers will launch canvasses and phone banks from 2,683 local GOTV Staging Locations nationwide.   Launching from thousands of local offices, community centers, and gathering places increases the efficiency of our canvasses and gives the program a designated place in the local community.

Online Organizing

Starting last Saturday, we set a “7 in 7” goal of reaching out to 7 million voters in 7 days.  In just 5 days, we surpassed our goal by reaching out to over 8 million voters, and have since upped the target to 10 million.

We have used a range of online services and tools – including an improved call tool, websites, emails, text messages, social networking, and online ads – to benefit Democrats nationwide.  For example, using our online tools, volunteers have organized over 36,994 events in their local communities

Voters across the country have gone to to find comprehensive voting information, early vote locations, and polling places.


The combined impact of these programs will support Democrats in tough districts and states across the country.  With a closing enthusiasm gap, favorable early vote returns, unprecedented financial commitment, and growing volunteer activity, we believe the data shows that our efforts are yielding positive results.  Over the final days of the GOTV effort, Democrats will continue to work together to build on these programs and achieve victory on November 2.