Post Mortem

The post mortem on election 2012 is in and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus commented on it in his remarks at The National Press Club.

It is important reading for anyone who wants our candidates to stop losing and start winning. I have summarized the important points he made here.

“Last week, I received the Growth and Opportunity Project’s report and their 219 recommendations. As it makes clear, there’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement…

But the report notes the way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough. Focus groups described our party as “narrow minded,” “out of touch,” and “stuffy old men.” The perception that we’re the party of the rich continues to grow…
Finding common ground with voters will be a top priority.
So first, we’re going to learn what works on the state level and apply it nationally. For example: when a conservative like Steve Pearce in New Mexico wins in a predominantly Latino district, we need to glean the lessons of his approach.
Second, in order to combat misconceptions, we will premiere an aggressive marketing campaign across the country, especially in communities we haven’t been to in a long time, about what it means to be a Republican.
Third, we will establish regular focus groups and listening sessions, to ensure we are on target in our communications. We will regularly share our findings, as well as polling results, with our candidates, allies, state parties, and elected leaders.

The RNC cannot and WILL NOT write off any demographic, community, or region of this country. So here are some actions we’re taking:
One: establish Senior Level Advisory Councils for Hispanic, African American, and Asian Americans that will serve as working groups to share best practices and have a constant dialogue in each community.
Two: Establish swearing-in citizenship teams to introduce new citizens to the GOP after naturalization ceremonies. First impressions count.
Three: At the recommendation of The Project, talk regularly and openly with groups with which we’ve had minimal contact in the past. LULAC. The Urban League. The NAACP. NALEO. La Raza.
Four: Work with state parties and sister committees to build a recruitment program for minority candidates. The report underscores the need for greater recruitment.
Five: Hire communications staff to promote the minority leaders in our party and bolster our messaging efforts in publications that appeal to ethnic minority groups.
Six: Develop an aggressive marketing campaign to expand our footprint on college campuses, with an especially strong focus on historically Black colleges and universities. In addition, create an ongoing dialogue with campus leaders.
Seven: Appoint a Youth Liaison to work with College Republicans, Young Republicans, and Teenage Republicans.

Eight: Go beyond traditional news media in promoting our message, including pop culture news outlets. We have to stop divorcing ourselves from American culture. And maybe that means I get to sit down with the ladies of The View.
Nine: Work with state parties, sister committees, and the Co-Chair to proactively recruit women candidates for offices at all levels.
Ten: Work to increase the visibility of GOP women…
To accomplish this, we’re launching a new national field program designed to engage minority groups and communities at the local level. We will take our message to civic centers and community events, where people live, work and worship.
This new approach will be diverse, year-round, community-based, and dedicated to person-to-person engagement.
By May 1st, we will hire National Political Directors for Hispanic, Asian-Pacific, and African American voters. We will task each director to build a team to educate each community on the history and principles of the Republican Party and identify supporters.
This will be a bottom-up approach, and we’ll have a network of hundreds of paid people across America from the community level up to the national level dedicated to minority, youth, and women inclusion. We will conduct a pilot program in targeted urban markets to test and refine these engagement efforts.
There will be full coordination between the RNC and state parties on early planning for the 2013 and ‘14 cycles, with a focus on organization, data collection, and testing for digital fundraising.
We will also network with organizations that are part of the liberty movement, Evangelical movement, and the Tea Party to strengthen our ties and mobilize volunteers.
To find new voters, the RNC will invest in a mobile voter registration program…
We’re hiring a new Chief Digital and Technology Officer who will build out and oversee three important and distinct teams: data, digital, and technology. Those teams will work together to integrate their respective areas throughout the RNC and provide a data-driven focus for the rest of the organization. And they will be the new center of gravity within the organization.
Second, we are working on an open data platform, where vendors, campaigns, and party organizations can build data-driven apps using a common API. Think of it like Apple and the App Store. They can access our data and then provide user-friendly products that will empower technology-driven voter contact. This is the first time a party committee has taken on such a task.
Over and over, our co-chairs heard of the need for an “environment of intellectual curiosity” that encourages innovation.
So, third, I want to hold Hackathons in tech-savvy cities like San Francisco, Austin, Denver, and New York–to forge relationships with developers and stay on the cutting edge.
Fourth, once our new operation is up and running, we will embark on a data and digital road show to demonstrate what campaigns and state parties can do to enhance their own operations. The report recommended getting early buy-in from all partners.
Fifth, we will upgrade as a platform, redesigning it to better utilize social media and serve an increasingly mobile audience.
Sixth, we’re setting up an RNC field office in the San Francisco area. As we learned with visits to Silicon Valley and conversations with top tech firms, many of the best minds are on the other side of the country. Having an office there will make it easier for technologists to join our efforts, and it can serve as a hub for our data and digital political training…
the RNC will create a system that sets earlier guidelines for a more rational number of debates. We will take a leading role in organizing the debates–and will work with state parties and our Rules Committee to ensure balance in every aspect.
The report finds it “advantageous to move quickly into the general election phase of the campaign, allowing the nominee to spend general election money sooner.”
To facilitate that, they recommend an earlier convention. So no more August conventions. Our Convention Planning Commission will be tasked with finding the optimal date, in addition to improving financing, security, logistics, site selection, and the overall program.”

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