Here's how the precinct analysis works

Most people, despite what they say, are faithful Democrats or Republicans. The job of your campaign is twofold: 1) make sure the Republicans vote, and b) reach out to those whose vote could depend on what you do or say. You don’t know who they are, but an analysis of each voting precinct will at least show where most of them live.

Over the course of 30 years and 100 campaigns, we’ve seen nothing that produces greater benefits for the resources committed to developing a precinct analysis.

Precinct Categories

1. Ticket-Splitters

The top-ranking 20 percent in the ticket-split column. You will notice that most of these precincts rank high in the other categories as well. Which means that you can win them — big — but you must also work them.

2. Base Republican

The top-ranking 20 percent in the average Republican percent column that are not already included in Category 1. These are the consistently-Republican precincts. Make sure that your mailings and walk lists include the Democrats in these precincts because it’s likely that most of them have voted for at least a few Republicans before. Target these precincts first for get-out-the-vote and voter registration.

3. Aspiring Republican

Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. Keep moving down the list in order by Overall Rank, and assign precincts to Category 3 until you’ve included two thirds of your anticipated turnout (Column O). These are the precincts that you’ll turn into bedrock Republican once you’re elected and have had a few years to work them. Until then, just make sure that you break even in these precincts.

4. Base Democrat

Everything above the bottom 20 percent in overall rank that is not already categorized. A typical precinct in this category would be filled with blue-collar, lower-middle-class wage-earners. Most of the people in these precincts have never voted Republican, so your losses are predictable and your time here is poorly spent.

5. Solid Democrat

The bottom 20 percent in overall rank. They vote Democrat. Period. (In the example you’ll see that no Republican has even reached 30 percent.) These are the precincts where the Democrats’ street money will flow on election day. The good news is that, because they vote so consistently D, you can actually predict your likely losses at various turnout levels. At least then you’ll know what you’ll need from the rest of the district.

Don't let registration numbers mislead you

The ratio of registered Republicans to Democrats doesn't necessarily predict voting habits. If the Democrat party runs active primary elections, and the Republicans don’t, then Democrat registration will be disproportionatley higher.

“Independents” are a myth. Don’t mistakenly assume that voters without a party registration are somehow “independent”. In most states it means they haven’t voted in a primary. An unaffiliated voter in a heavily Republican precinct probably votes Republican, while an unaffiliated voter in a base-Democrat precinct votes – you guessed it!   Only a tiny fraction of voters are truly independent, despite what you may hear. The proof is in the precinct results. Most people sympathize with one party or another – and vote that way, particularly in low-visibility elections (anything below Governor or US Senator), where they haven’t much knowledge of the candidates or issues.