With the GOP’s campaign funding increasingly concentrated in Washington, a culture of entitled frugality is gripping the state parties.
In California, some within the state GOP and its affiliates routinely approach consulting firms to inquire about their services only to make the not-so-subtle request to utilize the firms’ products for free. From Silicon Valley to San Diego, consulting firms say they’ve gotten the ask, which is troubling in light of the recent emphasis on developing Republican data and campaign tech infrastructure. In other words, why would anyone compromise these efforts by requesting firms provide services gratis?
There’s no question that the GOP must invest in its ground game and technology in order to be successful. After what happened in 2012, it’s clear Republicans need to put a framework in place to competently and effectively execute support for party candidates and their campaigns. But that requires a financial investment from the state parties.
In California, it’s become an uphill battle for central committee members to rally, recruit and train potential operatives. Without a properly financed and coordinated effort, you have a quagmire of volunteers wasting valuable time and assets. For instance, members associated with one GOP club may be inadvertently targeting homes that may have already been engaged by a candidate’s campaign earlier that week, effectively alienating a potential voter through over-saturation. Or even worse, without access to targeted data sets, local organizers end up targeting homes that don’t fit the profile of targeted, persuadable voters.
This is where technology becomes critical.
Since last November, President Obama’s campaign team has been lauded for capitalizing on technological innovations. The Republican National Committee seemed to learn its lesson and issued a report calling for more technological investment and staffing. Still, state parties need to follow suit and utilize assembled and developed data integrated ecosystems.
Moreover, it’s essential that the state parties hire long-term computer and data specialists to maintain and integrate current and future data sets. Investment in technology ensures high-impact person-to-person voter engagement, greater Election Day turnout and cogent demographic analysis. The reconciliation of multiple data sets empowers campaigns with the tools necessary to create an accurate and reflective profile of their constituency.
This is where consultants come in. We can provide state parties, GOP groups and campaigns with the opportunity to effectively and efficiently utilize their volunteers’ time in the field. For example, with a concentrated data set filtered down to a common demographic, volunteers can assess the accuracy of the data and deliver a tailored message to the constituents.
With the development of mobile phone applications, this can be accomplished in real time, allowing staffers to make near-instant decisions that can often be the difference between winning and losing. This is far preferable to the traditional tactic, where volunteers are tasked with hitting all homes in a given precinct.
But these kinds of services cost money. And in campaigns, you get what you pay for, at least when it comes to technology.
Lillian D. Cavalieri is the CEO and creative director of iPrecinct, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm specializing in online grassroots organizing tools.