By Dave Diepenbrock
Sunday's win on the road. Wow! Two factors made it happen for the Broncos. First, defense keeps Tebow in the game until he delivers the win. Colorado's Republicans couldn't count on defense in 2006 or 2010. We lost both governor's races in a summer media onslaught, not on Election Day. (Fair disclosure: in those elections, both Republicans leading before the attacks are longstanding friends.)
Second, Tebow uses some “surprise” tactics, at least in the pro game. Gregg Easterbrook analyzed Tebow's use of “high school tactics” like stop-and-go, out-and-up plays, zone read and running out. What they add up to is playing in ways pro teams don't. And surprise tactics work, in football and politics.
In politics, before TV took over, neighbors talked to neighbors. Without that, as ever more women joined the full time workforce, voter participation dropped. The United States Election Project has a chart showing voter participation dropping from 1960 to about 1980; thereafter voting generally lingered below 55% of the vote-eligible population until recent years.
Turnout campaigns require intensive efforts. First, you do voter ID calls to identify your supporters; then you make repeat contacts, if you can, with 'favorable' voters to get them to the polls. Colorado's Republicans appear to do well with the ID part. They contacted 2.4 million voters in 2008 and 2010.
If there's room for improvement, it's in getting our supporters to the polls, even those who are not registered Republicans. Republican blogger/activist Joshua Sharf believed that in 2010 Democrats did a better job of turnout with Independents who leaned their way – even as Republicans turned out 107,000 more Republicans than Democrats (h/t Press Office, Secretary of State). He credits that crucial effort to union manpower.
And certainly, in 2008 at least, Democrats had an enthusiasm advantage that made enlisting volunteers easy. Those field offices studied by DU's Seth Masket were packed with people whose efforts, he reports, made a difference. But with Obama outspending McCain 2:1 and Democrats 20% more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans, maybe naked voodoo rites would have done as well.
We did better in 2010. We kinda closed the cash gap. For Colorado's US Senate race in 2010, non-candidate committees spent $33 million, with $15M backing Buck – pretty even. Buck's campaign itself, however, fell far behind Bennet's $11.5M, raising just $5M. That's an $8.5 million shortfall, combining the two sources of campaign cash…but the total dollars are astonishing for our small state.
Setting money aside, what's missing? What's our tactic to change things? And how do we maximize its impact? Find out in my next column.