Since the efforts made on behalf of Chafee by the GOP in Washington are well known, it has been suggested that this is evidence the GOP turnout operation is rip-ready to go. After all, if the GOP could get fired up to re-elect Lincoln Chafee, a non-right-winger if there ever was one in the GOP, then the Republicans should have no trouble turning out the vote in November, right?
Not exactly, as Alan Abramowitz of Donkey Rising points out:
Republican Party leaders are claiming a lot of credit for their GOTV effort in Rhode Island on Tuesday and boasting that they’re going to apply the same techniques in every competitive House and Senate contest this fall. Leaving aside the question of whether it would be possible to duplicate this sort of all-out effort in 40+ House districts and 8-10 states, how impressive was the turnout in the Rhode Island Republican primary? Impressive for a Rhode Island Republican primary, but really not all that impressive.
It’s not just that more votes were cast for Democratic nominee Sheldon Whitehouse than for both Republicans combined even though Whitehouse faced only nominal opposition. GOP turnout in the hotly contested Rhode Island Senate primary was actually less impressive than Democratic turnout in the hotly contested Maryland Senate primary.
When we calculate the votes cast in each primary as a percentage of the votes cast for the party’s 2004 presidential nominee we find that the Republican turnout in Rhode Island (64,000 votes) was 37.9 percent of the vote for George Bush in Rhode Island in 2004 (169,000 votes) while the Democratic turnout in Maryland (513,000 votes) was 38.5 percent of the vote for John Kerry in Maryland in 2004 (1,334,000 votes). So perhaps Democratic party leaders should be bragging about their great GOTV effort in Maryland and about how they’re going to duplicate it in every competitive House and Senate contest this fall.
This is not to say the GOP is not good at turning out their base, they’re damn good at it. But at the same time it is clear from the available evidence that Dems are just as fired up as the GOP to vote, so the notion that the GOP machine is running great guns and their’s nothing that can be done about it is a strained one at best.