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Obama Rallies Supporters to Vote and Vote Early

President Obama is speaking in Madison, Wisconsin, this evening in an attempt to reenergize young voters — a group which voted for him over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election by more than 30 percentage points. In addition to getting them excited to go to the polls, notes the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder, the idea is to get Democrats to vote early. And why’s that? The more supporters the DNC can convince to vote early, Ambinder explains, the more it can focus its resources into cajoling those who haven’t done so yet to go to the polls on election day:

On election day itself, the DNC can spend time and money on the “knock and drag” — it will have a pretty good idea, down to the individual voter, who it needs to turn out in order to be competitive in House districts. Republicans have access to the same technology, but there are doubts within the party about whether the RNC has the metabolism and structures to build votes like the Democrats. Republicans in places like Ohio are just this cycle beginning to focus hard on the early vote. Democrats have been doing this for several cycles.

In several states, parties can figure out quite easily who has voted and who hasn’t. No one knows precisely who a person has chosen, but targeting strategists use formulas to guess. Let’s assume that seven out of every ten first-time voters who chose Obama will vote Democratic this year if they vote at all. So if Democratic operatives, canvassing a precinct, see that 20 people who fit this category have cast their ballots, they’ll assume that they’ve netted at least 8 votes. These formulas tend to be conservative. How would the DNC know that these people voted for Obama in 2008? The party has been tracking these voters religiously for months. Many of them self-report to call-takers.

The DNC’s better organization and funding than its GOP counterpart is one of those things that will provide small advantages to Democrats in close races. If its a landslide, it’ll make no difference, but if its a nail-biter, look to their use of voter rolls and get out the vote efforts to make the difference.

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