Politics & Government

Next Brown, Whitman challenge? Getting voters to the polls

Top state Democrats acknowledged Wednesday that they'll face an uphill climb to turn out voters next month given the sour national mood and a massive Republican get-out-the-vote operation financed by billionaire GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

California Labor Federation head Art Pulaski said the GOP's turnout advantage could give Republican candidates an extra percentage point or two of voter support on Election Day.

Steve Glazer, campaign manager for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, cited polls projecting only a six-point Democratic turnout advantage over Republicans on Election Day. That's less than half the Democratic margin over Republicans among all registered voters.

"There's no way we can match Meg Whitman's fortune that she's contributing to get-out-the-vote efforts," said Rose Kapolczynski, campaign manager for Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

"It's our job to change that turnout model, and in a tight race like ours, even 1 percent higher turnout could make the difference between winning and losing."

Whitman has broken new ground and spending records by employing state-of-the-art micro-targeting to reach likely supporters and by organizing an army of volunteers.

The effort will also aid other GOP candidates, such as Boxer's Republican rival, Carly Fiorina, as Whitman merges her operation with the state party's so-called victory campaign.

State Republicans have opened 92 field offices statewide, in addition to Whitman's six. They've also mobilized 37,000 volunteers expected to reach some 2 million voters by Election Day, said party spokesman Brian Seitchik.

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