WASHINGTON >> Hillary Clinton’s campaign is launching a major voter mobilization drive during the Republican National Convention, setting a national goal of getting more than 3 million people to register and commit to vote in the 2016 election.
Clinton intends to announce the plan on Monday in a speech to the NAACP convention in Cincinnati, followed by a stop at an Ohio voter registration event with volunteers, campaign officials said Sunday. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is kicking off the voter drive as Republicans meet in Cleveland to nominate businessman Donald Trump at their national convention.
The mobilization effort aims to capture the energy of Democrats watching the GOP convention each evening and harness it into a stronger voter base. President Barack Obama often told his campaign audiences, “Don’t boo — vote,” and Clinton’s team wants their faithful not to fume, but to fight back.
“People will be watching Cleveland and Donald Trump the next few days and will be wondering, ‘What can I do? What can I do to stop this?’” said David Pepper, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. “And the best thing they can do is to register voters.”
During the week, Clinton’s campaign and state Democratic coordinated campaigns will hold more than 500 registration or “commit to vote” events across the nation. For example, voter registration events will be held at the Islamic Center of Akron’s Eid celebration in Ohio; a bilingual day camp in Hazelton, Pennsylvania; Detroit’s Eastern Market; and a campaign office opening in Madison, Wisconsin.
To reach the goal of 3 million new voters, the campaign said it had created a one-stop-shopping online voter registration tool in English and Spanish that can be widely shared online.
Clinton’s voter registration and mobilization project will aim to build upon the turnout machine built by Obama’s two winning campaigns. And it also underscores how important it will be for Clinton to activate Obama’s coalition of black, Latino, female and young voters to turn out in large numbers amid a negative election environment against Trump.
Recent polls have shown large numbers of voters, including independents, expressing wariness of both Clinton and Trump, signaling that the election could pivot largely on the ability of each party to turn out its electoral base.
“In Florida, what she is doing on the ground with voter registration could be the difference between winning and losing,” said Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist who advised Obama’s campaigns in Florida.
Schale said in an email that Democrats had an edge of about 660,000 registered voters over Republicans in 2008, a margin which dropped to about 500,000 in 2012 when Obama narrowly defeated Republican Mitt Romney in the state. Democrats currently have about 250,000 more registered voters there than Republicans.
“When you keep in mind we won Florida by less than 100,000 votes (in 2012), you see how important registration is,” he said.