News Release: Faculty Experts, Politics

Oct. 29,  2008

Campaigns Must Get Out the Vote to Win

Mobilizing voters and getting them to the polls precinct by precinct through Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts will be the key to winning both the presidency and other races, says Emory political scientist Andra Gillespie, an expert on voter mobilization strategies and minority politics.

Right now, Sen. Obama's campaign is the dominant player in the ground game, Gillespie says. GOTV typically involves having an organized team on the ground that can mobilize supporters through voter registration drives, calls and canvassing, and help transport supporters to the polls or take part in early voting. 

"The Democrats' GOTV is much stronger this year with more money, more people and more field operations. The Obama campaign began training and organizing on a national level two years ago and sent people out to key primary states and precincts. The campaign is now reaping the fruit of that work," Gillespie says.

"The Republicans have always been masters of GOTV, but this year I don't think it will help Sen. McCain. People are less enthused within the party and are less likely to give money or do more than show up and vote," Gillespie says.

That inertia also will affect races such as the Georgia Senate contest, Gillespie says. "If the party does not put in a  '96-hour' plan this week to mobilize all of its voters, then Saxby Chambliss will have a difficult time defending his U.S. Senate seat here in Georgia."

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