So, as a result of the presidential election, I am curious if anyone else is wondering about the future of GOTV? The short version of this is: the vaunted GOTV capabilities of the Democratic Party, based in meticulous and scientific tracking of voting records was defeated by a Trump organization that effectively had no on-the- ground GOTV effort except in a couple of places. What does this say about current and sacrosanct Dem party theories of voter mobilization, locally, statewide and nationwide?
I would make one observation: it seems like the current model of GOTV is based on the idea that our voters aren’t particularly motivated, so you have to work really hard to get your voters to actually go vote by individually tracking and targeting them through endless email, door knocking, phone calls, etc. This entails an enormous effort involving many thousands of activists And huge hauls of cash. But the Trump model seems to be the opposite: give your voters the proper motivation to vote and they will go vote. On their own. Without being begged or badgered. Without the coaxing of, might we say, a Nanny Party?
So, has the Dem GOTV model evolved in its supposed sophistication out of “facts on the ground,” in other words, uninspiring politics and candidates, that have led to a demotivated base of voters? Have we unintentionally normalized the bland, safe, uninspiring agenda not relevant to a large swath of voters? We lionize all of the wonderful people who travel weekend after weekend to do GOTV in NH, etc. but what if that is all just busywork focused on the wrong targets? What if instead of targeting voters, we should have been targeting our own thinking and what we stand for? If so, then the solution, as some of the commentary on the election suggests, is to stand for something and run candidates that voters really want to turn out and vote for. Like Trump did. And by the way, it can be argued that not long ago, Scott Brown did that in defeating Martha Coakley . . . Etc.
As a town committee chair for a decade, I was involved in endless debates about the effectiveness of GOTV efforts before, during, and after every election. But, perhaps we should have been focused on a different target altogether.