Liberal groups hope $35M blitz can counter conservative groups' ads

Liberal groups hope $35M blitz can counter conservative groups' ads

Liberal and labor-backed groups are working across the country to mobilize their base through field programs in an effort to counter the barrage of corporate-funded television attack ads.

The group America Votes is coordinating the activity of 82 groups in 10 states, according to a memo circulated to supporters.

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More than 80 liberal organizations such as the League of Conservation Voters and Planned Parenthood Action Fund are running nearly 600 individual voter contact programs.

Democratic strategists are pointing to the broad effort as a potential counterweight to the tens of millions of dollars worth of attack ads that corporations have funded against Democratic candidates through third-party groups.

“America Votes and our partner organizations’ efforts to win in the trenches over the final days will be absolutely essential to thwarting a conservative takeover of Congress and key state offices across the country," Joan Fitz-Gerald and Greg Speed, the president and executive director of America Votes, wrote in a memo.

“Our field campaign includes directing millions of dollars to key programs and coordinating nearly $35 million of on-the-ground programs in 10 states,” Fitz-Gerald and Speed wrote in the Thursday memo to partners.

America Votes has built campaign infrastructure over the last few election cycles to help liberal groups coordinate their activities. The group provides coordination, data and targeting services to an array of partners.

Groups including the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Emily’s List, Human Rights Campaign, League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, SEIU, and the Sierra Club are part of the effort.

America Votes partners will direct a total of $7 million in resources to turn out voters in 20 battleground House districts. The effort will target “nearly 650,000 potential progressive drop-off voters,” according to the memo.

Drop-off voters include people who voted for President Obama in 2008 but may not show up to the polls in a midterm election.

Democratic strategists have predicted control of the House will depend on getting Democratic voters to turn out on Nov. 2. Public opinion surveys have shown the Democratic base is generally less enthusiastic than conservative and Republican voters.

Senior White House political adviser David Axelrod told a conference call of reporters last month that he was “absolutely confident that if there’s good turnout on November 2 that Democrats are going to do far better than people recognize,” according to a report by Jonathan Singer, a blogger.

America Votes has worked with SEIU, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the League of Conservation Voters to target 100,000 voters in New Hampshire’s 2nd congressional district, which Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) vacated to run for Senate.

The group plans to contact more than 100,000 young people in Minnesota through the Get Up Minnesota Program.

Democratic Reps. Tim Walz and Jim Oberstar are facing tough races in the state. The National Republican Congressional Committee has spent more than $300,000 in Minnesota’s first district to defeat Walz.

The get-out-the-vote program will also urge Democratic base voters to support ballot initiatives affecting redistricting in the wake of the 2010 census.

America Votes is working to pass Amendments 5 and 6 in Florda to “establish fairness standards for use in creating legislative and congressional district boundaries,” according to the memo.

The group estimates the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will spend another $50 million in House races.

“Progressives won’t match this torrent of special interest money on the air, but we are executing our plan to fight in the field — far away from K Street, where real grassroots mobilization can’t be bought,” the memo states.

The $35 million in liberal get-out-the-vote programs does not include a massive voter mobilization program planned by the AFL-CIO.

AFL-CIO volunteers have already distributed $17.5 million campaign leaflets at more than 4,000 worksites. They have also made more than 23.6 million phone calls and canvassed 1.3 million homes.

The AFL-CIO and its 56 affiliated unions waged a $250 million grassroots get-out-the-vote program in the 2008 presidential election.

Liberal groups acknowledge they face a tougher fight this year.

“While the task ahead is much more difficult than in 2008 or 2006, the strategic coordinating role of America Votes has also never been more essential,” Fitz-Gerald and Speed told coalition partners in the memo.