While much has been written about the Iowa Straw Poll, little has been written about the logistics involved in executing a winning strategy. I had a chance to catch up with a Romney adviser, who clued me in on how Romney's campaign delivered the pro-Romney votes...
First, it is important to note that winning the Ames Straw Poll was not about persuading attendees to vote for your candidate. Instead, it was all about identifying your supporters, and getting them to actually come to Ames.
With that in mind, the Romney team undertook a massive operation to bus in as many supporters as possible.
Once on the bus, supporters were given a nifty looking (and very large) Romney badge to wear around their neck.
When the busses arrived at Ames, Romney family members (more than 90 of them were in Iowa) had golf carts ready to greet elderly folks (who, I'm told, would not have made it otherwise), and drive them directly to the voting booths ...
The Romney badges were perforated, and right before you voted, a Romney aide would tear off the bottom part of your badge (the part that had your name on it). By doing this, the Romney folks were able to keep track of which supporters had actually voted. And they were able to spot supporters at the Straw Poll who had neglected to vote.
Staffers then worked phone banks (which were located in the Romney tent) to phone identified supporters who had not yet voted. In many cases, these supporters were happily informed that another bus would be coming by their town soon...
Entering the tent (and eating the BBQ) required having a badge. So staffers kept an eye on the folks in the tent, to see if they had voted (if their badges were still intact). Additionally, voting left your thumb covered in purple ink (like the Iraq elections), so, I'm told, it was pretty easy to spot someone who hadn't voted yet ...
In short, this was a top-notch Get-Out-The-Vote operation. Give Romney's team credit for being able to manage, organize and execute this first-rate operation.
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