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ICYMI: “Strategists From Both Parties” Praise Portman’s “Aggressive Grassroots Campaign"

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Yesterday, The National Journal took a deep dive into the grassroots efforts of the Portman for Senate Campaign saying, “Ohio Demo­crats are now scram­bling in what was once con­sidered a top Sen­ate pickup op­por­tun­ity thanks in part to an ag­gress­ive grass­roots cam­paign by Sen. Rob Port­man that strategists from both parties have praised for boost­ing the first-term Re­pub­lic­an over his bet­ter-known chal­lenger.”

From Andrea Drusch with The National Journal:

Ohio Demo­crats are now scram­bling in what was once con­sidered a top Sen­ate pickup op­por­tun­ity thanks in part to an ag­gress­ive grass­roots cam­paign by Sen. Rob Port­man that strategists from both parties have praised for boost­ing the first-term Re­pub­lic­an over his bet­ter-known chal­lengerMean­while, re­cent pub­lic sur­veys show Port­man lead­ing Strick­land even with Hil­lary Clin­ton out in front in the battle­ground state.

Na­tion­al Demo­crats are now shift­ing re­sources out of the state, with Port­man one of the few down-bal­lot Re­pub­lic­ans sig­ni­fic­antly out­pa­cing Don­ald Trump two months be­fore Elec­tion Day. It’s a stun­ning swing giv­en the state, the chal­lenger, and where Port­man stood among the most vul­ner­able sen­at­ors at the out­set of the cycle… And Port­man him­self has raised more than any of his GOP col­leagues in battle­ground reelec­tion races, al­low­ing him to start paid me­dia in June as part of a $14 mil­lion air­time re­ser­va­tion through Elec­tion Day

Strategists from both sides of the aisle who have moved this race down the pri­or­ity list say the chan­ging race is more than just a spend­ing dis­par­ity, prais­ing Port­man for run­ning a near-flaw­less cam­paign. As out­side groups dam­aged Strick­land, Port­man’s im­age im­proved sig­ni­fic­antly, more so than many of his fel­low well-fun­ded col­leagues.

“If [Port­man] loses, it’s be­cause there was no cam­paign that could win that state that year,” said one Demo­crat­ic strategist, who re­ques­ted an­onym­ity to speak can­didly.

In par­tic­u­lar, na­tion­al GOP strategists are now push­ing oth­er Sen­ate cam­paigns to rep­lic­ate Port­man’s army of vo­lun­teers, who his cam­paign says have knocked on more than 3.5 mil­lion doors. Armed with data from the GOP firm i360, Port­man’s vo­lun­teers—mainly stu­dents—div­vied up the elect­or­ate with is­sue-spe­cif­ic mes­sages, fol­lowed up with paid di­git­al me­dia that echoes that particular mes­sage.

One of the cent­ral strengths of Port­man’s cam­paign is his per­son­al ap­proach to grass­roots or­gan­iz­ing,” said John Ash­brook, a strategist with the GOP firm Cav­alry LLC., which ad­vises sev­er­al Sen­ate cam­paigns, in­clud­ing Port­man’s. “Oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans have tried to rep­lic­ate Pres­id­ent Obama’s com­munity-based field strategy, but Port­man’s team in Ohio is one of the first to do it suc­cess­fully.”

Port­man cam­paign man­ager Corry Bliss said that ef­fort dates back to the spring of 2015—long be­fore Trump—when the cam­paign set up field of­fices and re­cruited vo­lun­teers from every high school and col­lege in the sur­round­ing area. The goal, he said, was to build a can­vassing team that would be ready re­gard­less of what the even­tu­al co­ordin­ated ef­fort looked like.

Any­one can get great data, but our strength is that we have the man­power to knock on all the doors, make all the phone calls and put that data to use,” said Bliss, who meets weekly with field dir­ect­ors to mon­it­or pro­gress on the 22 tar­geted sub­sec­tions of the elect­or­ate.

Port­man’s cam­paign has also drawn praise from di­git­al strategists, who say their use of tech­no­logy has en­abled such an ef­fort to work, even with a staff of mostly un­paid stu­dents.

Lee Dunn, Google’s head of elec­tions for Re­pub­lic­an cam­paigns, said Obama’s 2008 cam­paign was “cred­ited for us­ing flashy tools, but they used those tools to aug­ment the very tra­di­tion­al thing that you still need to do in polit­ics, in terms of grass­roots, door to door and phone con­tacts. That’s sim­il­ar to what the Port­man cam­paign is do­ing.”

Dunn said Google cre­ated cus­tom met­rics for the cam­paign to slice and dice the elect­or­ate, which, along with the vo­lun­teer base, helped al­low for the un­usu­ally large num­ber of voter con­tacts. (Google also works with the Strick­land cam­paign, but the di­vi­sions are sep­ar­ated by party.)

In terms of the volume of what we’ve seen from their vo­lun­teer staff op­er­a­tion, it was sub­stan­tial well be­fore Don­ald Trump or any nom­in­ee, and well be­fore that kind of RNC–driv­en vic­tory op­er­a­tion was star­ted,” Dunn said…

LINK: https://www.nationaljournal.com/s/641379/how-rob-portman-went-from-unknown-reelection-favorite

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