RNC Tests Election Battle Plan

It’s good to read that the RNC is not idle before the 2016 elections. David Drucker at the Washington Examiner writes:

The Republican National Committee is beginning the next phase of its 2016 plan Thursday, running field tests of voter turnout strategy, digital operations and volunteer network performance.

The RNC says it now has over 150 paid staff and 10,000 campaign volunteers scattered in key electoral battlegrounds and other states. Now, the national party wants to find out if its investment in manpower, technology and strategy development pays off in the form of a well-oiled political machine. The test, details of which were shared with the Washington Examiner, lasts throughout October, and is being billed as a “national month of action.”

“The fact that we are able to hold a national month of action more than a year from the election is a testament to the RNC’s dedication and ability to take back the White House in 2016,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said. “No other campaign or committee has the data or infrastructure in place to hold a full scale general election test this early in the cycle.”

The RNC is in the midst of year three of a major reboot following a Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s disappointing loss to President Obama in 2012. Besides Romney’s flaws as a candidate, the GOP determined that it was outworked and outclassed in the field, where Obama’s superior get-out-the-vote strategy, boosted by a decisive technological advantage, positioned him to win more votes despite national political headwinds.

Priebus responded by re-orienting the RNC’s focus. Rather than stockpile cash for most of the election cycle before spending it on a hastily created ground game deployed on the fly a few months before the presidential election, Priebus decided the committee would build a permanent and technologically advanced national campaign apparatus available for all Republican candidates to access in midterm and presidential years.

This year, the RNC continued that effort by updating it’s digital products used by volunteers and staff in the field to track voter turnout and behavior, while completely overhauling the structure of its voter field teams, modeling it after the strategy that was so effective for Obama three years ago.

Now, its time to see how everything works so that necessary adjustments can be made before the program is handed off to prepare to the Republican presidential nominee that will be crowned next July. This month, the RNC plans to:

• Ramp up voter registration and voter contacts via door-knocking; launch a series of house meetings with activists; activate the field team neighborhood leaders; test the new field strategy, referred to in-house as the “Turf model”; hold debate watch parties, continue training new field volunteers through the Republican Leadership Institute (another strategy the RNC swiped from Obama 2012).

• Test the effectiveness and efficiency of the RNC’s smart phone applications used by volunteers to track voter turnout, sentiment and response during one-on-one contacts. Information on each voter is updated and sent to the RNC’s national database in real time, allowing campaign strategists to make up-to-the-minute adjustments. The RNC will also test how their field teams work together and how effective team leaders are at managing their volunteers.

A few battleground states have been selected for extra attention and more detailed testing of the RNC plan, including Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia.

• In Colorado, the RNC will take advantage of the state’s demographic makeup to focus on engaging rural voters, college students and Hispanics.

• In Florida, the RNC will focus on door-to-door contacts, and increasing GOP voter registration. Hispanic outreach will get priority and the multiethnic, multigenerational makeup of the state will allow the committee to test various voter contact approaches beyond just door-knocks.

• In North Carolina, the RNC will work to build its voter registration file, hold house meetings and test various voter contact strategies.

• In Michigan, the RNC plans to focus on outreach to African American voters. Expect to see GOP volunteers at targeted events in Detroit, Flint and Saginaw.

• In Ohio, the RNC is coordinating with Sen. Rob Portman’s re-election campaign and other congressional campaigns, with particular focus on engaging college students, African Americans, Hispanics and women through various civic organizations. A “day of action” is scheduled for Oct. 24.

• In Virginia, the RNC is capitalizing on the state’s off-year election schedule, and will put its new plan to work helping to carry Republicans to victory in targeted state senate races.

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