It’s “National Prosperity Action Day.” Tea Partiers, Republican volunteers and conservative activists are being summoned by Americans for Prosperity—the group founded and financed by several large corporations, and led by the billionaire Koch brothers—to begin mobilizing to defeat President Obama and Congressional Democrats.
They’re gathering in newly set up offices in critical swing states. Some of the locations have a tinge of irony for a supposedly grassroots, ordinary citizens-led organization: In Saddlebrook, Arizona, they’ll be meeting in a country club; in Clearwater, Florida, the local AFP field director rented space from an outsourcing company called TAC Worldwide. But the work the AFP machine is doing is no laughing matter for liberals. The Koch network has a sophisticated targeting system, as well as an army of experienced Republican campaign hands to guide the effort. The volunteers even receive Samsung Galaxy tablets to quickly log information and move on to the next potential Romney voter.
It’s the beginning of an extremely well-planned get-out-the-vote effort that duplicates what an entire national party would attempt. And it’s been four years in the making.
In 2009, the Koch network created a model called the Wisconsin Prosperity Project to move the state to the far right. After witnessing the Democrats’ stunning 2008 ground game, the operatives in Wisconsin were determined to out-organize liberals. They hired Tea Party organizers, invested heavily in front groups (like the MacIver Center), ran constant advertising and coordinated with employers to hold propaganda meetings with workers. Tea Party bus tours in the state, fully financed by AFP, were “designed” to help elect Republicans.
And in 2010, Wisconsin turned harder to the right than almost any other state in the nation during the midterm elections. At least from the Koch perspective, the investments worked. (The Koch theory of change was also reinforced by the savvy Scott Walker recall campaign, in which Koch operatives bused seventy-five canvassers to the state to out-perform the unions.)