"Unlikely voters" typically go under the political radar. These are the people most pollsters spend very little time with. If you're called by one, and answer ‘no' to the question, "Are you likely to vote in the upcoming election?", the caller will thank you for time and quickly end the call. After all, polling firms want data about those who probably WILL go vote, not those who won't...and cop to it.
But Democrats? They are out looking for un-likely voters...or so says David Plouffe, President Obama's campaign manager in '08 and the guy shepherding that organization now known as Organizing for America.
"Right now," says Plouffe, "Republicans are turning out in big numbers. I don't think we should expect that to abate. Some of them may be wearing tin-foil hats but they're coming out and we need to get Democrats excited and enthused, and that's what we're doing."
Plouffe and his political partner, Senior White House Advisor David Axelrod, were the featured speakers at Sunday's "Steak Fry" fundraiser. It's an annual event hosted by longtime Democratic Senator Tom Harkin. His wife Ruth called it the "opening ceremony" to the Fall campaign season.
What folks at the fundraiser expect for their twenty-five dollar donation is a steak (which is grilled...never mind that the event's called a ‘fry'),maybe a beer or two and some encouraging words about how Democrats can win in November.
This year, that's a tough job.
But Plouffe let supporters and reporters in on a bloc of votes out there which haven't shown up in the polls, but could make a huge difference. Yup, those un-likely voters.
Plouffe explains, "Tens of thousands of people right now in Iowa are no threat to vote for (Republican gubernatorial candidate) Terry Branstad or (incumbent Republican U.S. Senator) Chuck Grassley or any Republican but they're no committed to voting."
If these unlikely, unmotivated voters can be reached in a one-to-one way (preferably by some they know or in their neighborhood), Plouffe says those folks can be turned into likely Democratic votes.
How does Plouffe know that? 2008.
"We know our sporadic Democratic voters are going to vote the top of that ticket, if we can get those ballots to 'em. And we know how to get those ballots to them," says Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky.
And Plouffe says the same scenario plays out in every state. "If we can get Democratic vote totals up just a little bit we're going to win some close races."
All of them? Plouffe did NOT go there, but he sees a better day for Democrats if they claim the independents and the "un-likely votes."
Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.