Inside House Democrats’ Expanding Ground Game

by Nathan L. Gonzales August 8, 2014 · 10:13 AM EDT

In the face of a challenging midterm environment, Democrats are relying on money and an expanding get-out-the-vote effort to avoid losing any more ground in the House. But what does that souped-up ground game look like?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s fundraising advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee is well-documented by this point. And DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said his party plans to out-organize Republicans in the fall.

The DCCC has 444 field staff on the ground in 48 districts, according to an official spokesperson, with another 219 scheduled to start later this month. The committee started August with at least 20 field staff in 11 districts.

The field effort is starting earlier than in previous cycles. The first permanent staffer started in early January in a competitive California district, which is about six months earlier than before.

In a competitive district in the Northeast in 2012, the DCCC deployed four field staff, including one field director and three field organizers in two offices. This cycle, in the same district, Democrats have 19 field staff, including one field director, three regional field directors and 15 field organizers, in four field offices to date.

Democratic strategists believe a renewed focus on districts with high minority populations (including black and Hispanic voters, for example) and that featured close races in 2012 are prime places to focus get-out-the-vote operations this time around. Democrats will try to mute the drop-off from a presidential election in Arizona’s 2nd District, California’s 26th District, Florida’s 2nd District, and Texas’ 23rd District, which all saw tight winning margins in 2012.

This is all part of the DCCC’s plan “to secure commitments from 1 million supporters to vote in November — an effort that will be the centerpiece of the party’s fall turnout operation,” as Alexandra Jaffe wrote in The Hill recently.

Democrats on the House and Senate side are extremely focused on their ground games for the fall. But this year will test the limits of GOTV plans.