State GOP, Grassroots Groups, Move to Counter Obama Ground Game in Colo.

April 3, 2012
By
DonkeyHotey / Foter

BROOMFIELD – Conservatives in Colorado are building a ground game in 2012 that they hope will make previous years’ efforts pale in comparison.

They aren’t sitting around waiting for a GOP presidential nominee to ramp up their field organizing efforts.

“We can’t afford to wait,” says Ryan Call, Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, noting the “decisive role” the state is likely to play in the Presidential election.

Call said that by May 1st the state GOP hopes to have 3-5 “Victory” offices open, central locations for volunteers to phone bank or organize door-to-door canvassing efforts. The Washington Post reported that the first GOP Victory office in Colorado is set to open this week, one of the first in the nation.

Chuck Poplstein, Executive Director of the Colorado GOP, said the general election focus would ramp up quickly after the State Assembly on April 14.

With Colorado destined to be one of the most competitive states in the presidential election, not only is the Republican Party building a field program, but national conservative organizations are also looking to expand their previous efforts in the state.

Outside Groups

Groups such as Americans For Prosperity (AFP) are planning to mobilize voters through grassroots organizing efforts, such as door-to-door canvassing and phone banks.

AFP Colorado recently hired four full-time regional field organizers in the state, and may be hiring more in the coming weeks and months.

Sean Paige, Deputy Director of AFP’s Colorado chapter, said he sees the “elevated public awareness an election year brings” as an opportunity to educate the public on his group’s issues of limited government and free enterprise and expand the group’s membership of 51,000 in Colorado.

“It’s a critical time in the country’s history and we want to arm folks with the information they need to make informed choices,” said Paige.

There has also been talk among Colorado GOP operatives of national political powerhouse group, American Crossroads, potentially operating their own field effort in Colorado.

A spokesman for American Crossroads did not respond to a request for comment on the rumored field program.

In 2010, the national conservative group tested a door-to-door program in Colorado and Nevada with canvassers utilizing iPads and iPhones to access and input information on voters they were meeting.

Obama’s Campaign

All of this organizing is partly directed at countering the extensive voter contact effort being developed by the Obama re-election campaign.

The Obama campaign already has at least four offices in Colorado according to its website, with the state headquarters in Denver.

In 2008, Obama won the state by almost nine points, but the 2012 race is expected to come down to the wire, with Obama’s most recent Gallup approval rating in Colorado only at 40%.

With the race so close, campaigns and outside organizations will be fighting for every last voter they can persuade or motivate to vote, which is why they are employing larger forces, earlier on and with more sophisticated technology than was available in 2008.

New Technology

GOP Chair Ryan Call noted the difference technology has made to engaging volunteers in rural areas. To engage those volunteers, the Colorado GOP will be utilizing an online-based phone at home program.

Rather than having to drive 30-45 minutes or more to a Victory office, volunteers will be able to login online at home and make phone calls to likely voters. That will allow for Republican organizers to reach a whole new set of prospective volunteers, who in previous election cycles have often lived too far from Victory offices to be involved regularly.

The question now for conservatives in Colorado is how well various outside groups, political party organizations and individual candidates will be able to work together. Will they be able to blend together towards a common goal or will internal differences beset their efforts as has happened previously?

Campaign finance law bars communication between outside groups and political parties or individual candidates. But, as the Colorado Democracy Alliance (CODA), an umbrella group for liberal organizations focused on electing Democrats, has proven, communication channels can be built to ensure a commonality of purpose.

While Colorado conservatives have been known more for their conflicts than their cooperation, this particular concoction of organizations has yet to be tested in the state. Whether it will be successful, no one knows at this point, but one thing is certain: expect plenty of energetic canvassers to be knocking at your door.

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