Lockhart grades Kerry's ground game.

Dispatches from Campaign 2004.
Nov. 2 2004 6:08 PM

Halftime Score

Joe Lockhart grades the Democratic ground game.

BOSTON—A little after 4:30 p.m., Joe Lockhart stood at a podium at the traveling press filing center at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel and briefed the media on the campaign's view of Election Day so far. Here's a partial transcript. The questions are paraphrases, but Lockhart's quotes are verbatim.

"The rules state if you are in line when the polls close, you are allowed to vote. … They just need to get there by the time of the poll closing. We will be providing coffee and doughnuts for those who have to wait in line as a way to ease their pain, I am told. I believe this is true, that the campaign has authorized in some places in Ohio Port-a-Potties to make sure that people don't leave because they have to go to the bathroom. They tell me that's true."

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"In these battleground states, we have targeted 60 precincts per state: 20 that polled very well for then-Gov. Bush, in 2000, 20 that were mixed, 20 that voted heavily for Gore. Let me share a few things from around the country that we've drawn from those precincts. So far today, our base precincts are running ahead of both Republican base precincts and ahead of Al Gore's performance in every battleground state, with the exception of New Mexico, where we are even, and Arkansas, where we're slightly behind.

"So when you look at the whole, 12 or 13, whatever we settled on battleground states, we believe in our key precincts, as a measure of turnout, that we're doing well.

"In Florida, Democratic precincts continue to outperform Republican precincts, and African-American and Hispanic turnout is still running higher than expected. We've seen anecdotal evidence, particularly in some of the Hispanic voting areas, of very heavy turnout. We have a turnout advantage in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County.

"In Ohio, Democratic precincts again are outperforming the Republican Bush precincts by about 8 percent. Cuyahoga County turnout advantage in precincts carried by Gore is 7.1 percent compared to the precincts carried by Bush in 2000. Franklin County, we're seeing a turnout advantage, and Hamilton County, which is Cincinnati, a turnout advantage in Gore precincts by again, about 6 and a half percent.

"Wisconsin, Democratic precincts are outperforming Bush precincts by about 1.9 percent; that holds for Dane County, which is the Madison area, and Milwaukee County, and even the heavily Republican county in the Milwaukee suburbs, where our turnout advantage is small, but it is an advantage.

"A couple other: Colorado Democratic precincts are outperforming Bush precincts by about 4.6 percent; Iowa Democratic precincts are outperforming the Bush precincts by about 10 percent. So, we think that the turnout numbers have been encouraging, but we still believe that we have a lot of work to do."

Q: Explain what those numbers mean.

"That's not exit polling. That's turnout. Again, as I said, if you look at key precincts around the state, which is how we judge turnout, we have heavily Democratic districts, and then you've got heavily Republican precincts. And the numbers that I was using were all comparative, comparing the Democratic precincts to the Republican. It doesn't tell you everything, but I think it tells you a lot. If County X, which always votes Democratic, 100 people show up, and County Y, which always votes Republican, 93 people show up, at the end of the day, you have some sense that things are going well for you. And that's good news. Again, it doesn't tell you who's won or lost, but it does give a sense that our efforts at sort of turning out the voters are having some success."

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