This past week, the Illinois GOP has been running their online straw poll to determine who the Illinois Republican voters like in the GOP primary for President. Yesterday, November 5th, the Illinois GOP also had multiple locations in Illinois where people could walk in and vote in the straw poll as well. To cast a ballot, a voter only had to provide a minimum $5 donation. The results after 3,649 votes cast?
1. Ron Paul wins the online straw poll
2. Mitt Romney wins the walk-in straw poll.
3. The Illinois GOP loses again.
I have long detailed the failures of the Illinois GOP but the straw poll just seems to keep that losing streak alive.
Regarding the online poll, are we surprised that Ron Paul would win? I'm not. The Paulites have a long tradition of stuffing the ballot box and here we have yet another example. Seriously Illinois GOP? An online straw poll? Did they expect different results? The straw poll couldn't have been solely about raising money since the buy-in to the straw poll was set so low so I guess we should chalk it up to incompetence.
Regarding the walk-in straw poll, to my knowledge most of the polling stations were in northern Illinois which accounts for Romney getting the most votes at 35% but Cain, despite the ongoing Politico crap shoot, came in with 29% of the vote.
So why is this straw poll a failure for the Illinois GOP? Outside the Ron Paul ballot stuffing, it was a failure because the Illinois GOP continues to list like a sinking ship as it slowly takes on water before its inevitable demise.
The Illinois GOP continues to put their stock in "activism" through phone calls via Illinois Victory and doing PR stunts like straw polling. It's great, grand and wonderful that Illinois Victory "identified" the most voters than any other state that ran similar programs or that more people voted in the the Illinois GOP straw poll than other large electoral college voting states that conducted their own straw polls. But what did it accomplish other than a news headline and possibly a bragging point for not one, but two candidates? Isn't one of the goals of a straw poll to find one winner?
On November 28th in Illinois, the filing period for petitions to be Precinct Committeman. Has the Illinois GOP tried to recruit people? No. I have not heard a single word from IL GOP Chair Pat Brady - publicly - about Precinct Committeemen. Nothing. In fact, when I met with Pat Brady at the Illinois State Fair GOP Day, he stated to the group of Tea Party leaders present that he believed that the PC doing GOTV is going to the wayside because of online outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.
Nothing beats boots on the ground. Nothing. You can Twitter and Facebook all day long and it either gets lost in the noise or your message doesn't reach a large enough audience. This "strategy" also relies on everyone you are trying to contact being a member of some sort of online community.
But everyone does physically live in a real world community and therefore they can be reached by the PC knocking on their door to inform them about a candidate and/or to remind them to vote. The Illinois GOP doesn't seem to want or care about informing voters or GOTV, just identifying them. The Illinois GOP strategy of voter ID can be summed up like this:
That's their idea of getting people to vote. Furthermore it's apparent that the Illinois GOP leadership thinks that we will turn into Chris Farley when PCs do GOTV...
I have three stories of successful GOTV campaigns. The candidate didn't always win, but if this effort was multiplied across Illinois and within other states we could make a serious difference.
1. Bill Brady (R) vs Pat Quinn (D) Illinois Governor race 2010. Bill Brady lost by just shy of 20,000 votes. In my county, my girlfriend and just a handful of others walked door to door in each precinct for Brady and to GOTV. The result? Our county had a 58% turnout in an off year election with Brady winning by the second largest percentage than any county in the entire state.
2. Judge Doug Jarman. Running for Circuit Judge against a candidate who was related to and shared the same last name as the long serving retiring incumbent which equaled strong name ID. Jarman did not have as strong name ID as his opponent. We used Illinois Victory to try GOTV via phone calls but most callers would not give us a hard answer as to which judge candidate they preferred (a serious flaw within the Illinois Victory strategy) and actually seemed a bit insulted we were asking (a huge flaw in the Illinois Victory strategy). So we went door to door distributing literature and reminding people to vote. We walked our city's Halloween parade and we were able to distribute over 3500 pieces of literature for Judge Jarman. The results? Judge Jarman won his 9 county election with our county returning a considerable higher percentage of votes for him than any of the 9 counties in his circuit.
3. My city council election. I had some name ID because of our Tea Party efforts in town, but I was not running and did not run as the "Tea Party candidate". I ran solely on the issues. Our city council is an at-large bid so GOTV was important to success. My girlfriend (also doubling as my beautiful campaign manager) led the GOTV effort for my election as I was tight for time because I was doing my student teaching at the same time as running for office. We sat down and identified which precincts had turned out the largest number of voters the last city council elections and we targeted those precincts with our door to door campaign. The result? I won and I saw first hand the election result difference between the precincts we walked versus the precincts we didn't. GOTV was singlehandedly the deciding factor in my victory.
Why the Illinois GOP continues to waste time with PR stunts as straw polling instead of recruiting PCs so that we have our ground game in place is beyond me. Perhaps the Illinois GOP is stuck in a loser mentality and needs a shake-up at the top. Or perhaps we should make sure we are on the ballot to be Precinct Committeemen so we can snatch victory from the grasp of defeat because of the Illinois GOP leadership.
If you live in Illinois, November 28th - December 5th is the filing period for Precinct Committeemen. If you live out of Illinois, get on the ballot to be a Precinct Committeeman!
Crossposted from Downstate Illinois Advocate