August 4, 2002


Unexpected praise : Guess who's taking lessons from Al Gore's 2000 campaign? The GOP. Democrats see it differently (Roger Simon, 8/12/02, US News)
"The Gore campaign was good," Blaise Hazelwood, the Republican National Committe's political director, says. "It was a good grass-roots effort." One could dismiss this as political spin-the Republicans praise a bad Democratic campaign so the Democrats will repeat it-except that the RNC has spent nearly $1 million to find out what Gore did right and the Republicans did wrong in 2000.

"The weekend before the 2000 election we had a pretty good feeling," Hazelwood says. "Then Election Day happened, and it was, 'Oh, my gosh, what happened?' " The Republicans were shocked by what the Democrats have since forgotten: Gore, as "horrendous" as he was, garnered 543,000 more votes than George W. Bush. It wasn't supposed to be that way, not according to the polls. So the Republicans studied the last 72 hours of the election and came to one overall conclusion. "The Democrats have a better voter turnout operation than we do," Hazelwood says.

The Republicans had, over the years, become victims of their own success: Since they raised more money than the Democrats, they could afford to spend heavily on get-out-the-vote ads, professional phone banks, and computerized voter lists. The Democrats were left with bodies, especially the bodies of labor union volunteers going door to door. "The Republicans have the technology," says Donna Brazile, Gore's campaign manager and now head of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute. "We do
knock-and-drag, and they do right-click."

It was really disheartening to be at the local polling place on Election Day, with one or two other Republicans trying to keep track of who'd voted, while the Democrats had 15 people. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 4, 2002 6:33 AM
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