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McCain, Obama Campaigns Unleash Massive Get-Out-The-Vote Operations

November 3, 2008

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Barack Obama and John McCain uncorked massive get-out-the-vote
operations in more than a dozen battleground states Sunday, millions of
telephone calls, mailings and door-knockings in a frenzied, fitting
climax to a record-shattering $1 billion campaign. Together, they’ll
spend about $8 per presidential vote.

“Go vote right now,” Obama urged from the Ohio Statehouse steps,
reminding people of a nearby polling location where they could cast
ballots by sunset. “Do not delay because we have work to do.” A show of
hands found most in the crowd already had.

With just two days to
go, most national polls show Obama ahead of McCain. State surveys
suggest the Democrat’s path to the requisite 270 electoral votes — and
perhaps far beyond — is much easier to navigate than McCain’s.

Polls
show the six closest states are Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North
Carolina, Nevada and Ohio. All were won by Bush and made competitive by
Obama’s record-shattering fundraising. The campaigns also are running
aggressive ground games elsewhere, including Iowa, New Mexico,
Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Colorado and Virginia.

All that’s left now for the candidates is make sure people vote Tuesday — if they haven’t already.

Indeed,
Election Day is becoming a misnomer. About 27 million absentee and
early votes were cast in 30 states as of Saturday night, more than
ever. Democrats outnumbered Republicans in pre-Election Day voting in
key states.

That has Democrats — and even some Republicans —
privately questioning whether McCain can overtake Obama, even if GOP
loyalists turn out in droves on Tuesday. Obama may already have too big
of a head start in critical states like Nevada and Iowa, which Bush won
four years ago.

“This is off the charts in some of these states,” said Michael P. McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University.

As the campaign closes, voters were being inundated with a crush of television ads and automated phone calls.

In
a new TV ad, Obama highlighted Vice President Dick Cheney’s support for
McCain. The ad features Cheney, an extremely unpopular figure among the
general public, at an event Saturday in Wyoming, saying: “I’m delighted
to support John McCain.”

Not to be outdone, the Republican
National Committee rolled out battleground phone calls that include
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s criticism of Obama during the Democratic
primary. She is heard saying: “In the White House, there is no time for
speeches and on-the-job training. Sen. McCain will bring a lifetime of
experience to the campaign, and Sen. Obama will bring a speech that he
gave in 2002.”

Obama and McCain campaigned on each other’s turf
Sunday. Obama was in Ohio, a bellwether state Bush won four years ago
and where polls show Obama tied or winning. McCain visited Pennsylvania
and New Hampshire, states won by Democrat John Kerry in 2004. He trails
in both.

“I’ve been in a lot of campaigns. I know the momentum is
there,” McCain told supporters at a rally in Pennsylvania. Overall,
polls show Obama winning or tied in more than a dozen or so states won
by Bush while McCain trails in every Kerry state.

McCain and the
RNC dramatically ramped up their spending in the campaign’s final days
and now are matching Obama ad for ad, if not exceeding him, in key
battleground markets in states such as Florida, Ohio, North Carolina,
Virginia and Pennsylvania.

After months of planning, the
Republican Party launched the last stage of its vaunted “72-hour
program,” when volunteers descend on competitive states for the final
stretch. Democrats unleashed their “persuasion army” of backers
scouring their own backyards to encourage people to back Obama in the
campaign’s waning hours.

More than 10,000 Obama volunteers in
Ohio were knocking on doors and planning to hit their one millionth
home Sunday after a five-day push.

His campaign reported that
Saturday was its largest volunteer day, with more volunteers showing up
to work the phones and walk neighborhood precincts than ever before in
the campaign. Said Obama spokesman Bill Burton: “Our volunteers are
completely engaged.”

McCain’s crew says theirs are, too.

“There’s
no doubt that we’ve got an uphill battle,” said Rich Beeson, the RNC’s
political director. But, he said: “I’m not going into Election Day with
any trepidation that they’ve put any state away” by banking early
votes. “We still have a lot of voters that we can and will turn out.”

The
RNC reported making 5.4 million voter contacts last week, compared with
1.9 million in the same week in 2004, and it says it’s volume has
steadily increased since October began. Overall, it says 26 million
voters have been contacted by volunteers over four months.

On
Saturday alone, the RNC says an estimated 3 million voters were
contacted by phone or in person, and it saw so many volunteers show up
to help that in at least one state, Colorado, the party ran out of
canvassing packets. Some 180,000 were gone by midday Saturday; more
were printed.

For all the hype, Republicans and Democrats alike
acknowledge that turnout operations usually only are determinative in
contests that are close; they’re good for gaining a few percentage
points at the most.

McCain planned visits to media markets that
hit battlegrounds Florida, Virginia, Indiana, New Mexico, and Nevada on
Monday. A repeat trip to Pennsylvania also was slated before McCain
returns home to Arizona.

Obama was getting help Sunday from
rocker Bruce Springsteen in Cleveland and also was hitting Ohio’s two
other largest cities, Columbus and Cincinnati. He plans visits to
Florida, North Carolina and Virginia on Monday.

Exuding
confidence, Obama told reporters he would hold a news conference on
Wednesday. Later, Obama spokeswoman Linda Douglass walked back Obama’s
plans, saying he’ll meet the press before the end of the week, but
“don’t count on Wednesday.”

Source: AP

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