Despite the best efforts of its campaign tech consultants, the Republican Party remains in the proverbial Stone Age. Or at least that’s according to the Republican National Committee, which says the party’s data, media buying and voter contact operations are in need of a complete overhaul in the wake of the 2012 election cycle.
The RNC’s new Growth & Opportunity Project report, which pooled the knowledge of some 200 GOP consultants and managers, found that the Obama campaign was better at identifying low-propensity voters through analytics and subsequently able to convince them to turnout for the president.
“Democrats had the clear edge on new media and ground game, in terms of both reach and effectiveness,” the report reads. “Obama’s campaign knocked on twice as many doors as the Romney campaign, and Obama’s campaign had a ballot edge among those contacted by both campaigns. In addition, the president’s campaign significantly changed the makeup of the national electorate and identified, persuaded, and turned out low-propensity voters by unleashing a barrage of human and technological resources previously unseen in a presidential contest.”
The RNC’s much anticipated report acknowledged what was obvious during the 2012 presidential contest—Mitt Romney’s campaign might as well have been Fred Flintstone’s foot-powered car in a race against Barack Obama’s Mercedes when it came to campaign technology.
So what does the GOP need to do to catch up? Well, it needs to change pretty much “everything a campaign does” when contacting a potential voter.
“We cannot leave anything to intuition, gut instincts or ‘traditional’ ways of doing things,” the report states. Moreover, the committee says it intends to lead the effort to make the GOP an “environment of intellectual curiosity, and a culture of data and learning.”
“Republican campaigns in the future need to be grounded in rigorous testing and trial-and-error processes to ensure our strategies, messages and tactics are effective in persuading voters,” the committee concludes.
The recommendations include the hiring of a full-time data team. The report lays out plans for a “data analytics institute that can capture and distill best practices for communication to and targeting of specific voters.”
To oversee the data institute, the RNC says it will hire a chief technology and digital officer by May 1, 2013. Such a hire would “send a strong and immediate signal that we are serious about growing our digital and tech operations,” the report states.