The elephant are rumbling.
With midterm elections that will decide control of the Senate for the next two years and the presidential contest of 2016 two years away, the Republican National Committee this week is starting a major expansion of its ground organization and debating the structure of the 2016 primary debates.
On the ground, the “Victory 365” program being launched at the party’s annual meeting in Memphis, Tenn., will focus on refining the use of voter data to drive turnout in ways that could be decisive in close races.
And in true Republican fashion, it all boils down to investments.
According to Breitbart, the party plans to invest millions in improving ways to collect voter data and put it to use with new apps and analytics programs to coordinate volunteer outreach – literally deciding which doors to knock on with the greatest effect and using smartphone app with interactive software to connect with the voter who answers it.
But for that to do any good, there have to be committed people – real, live volunteers and activists – willing to work in the trenches. The party is creating 200 more full-time positions to begin a “permanent ground game” outside the Washington Beltway – where more than 90 percent of its staff is now.
That’s just for the 2014 cycle. The number will go up for the 2016 contest.
“This is the launch of a permanent year round ground game, that will ensure the Republican Party will be competitive for years to come,” RNC spokesman Raffi Williams said in an email to Breitbart.
“But our efforts to put our country back on the right track will not be successful without volunteers working hard to ensure that Americans across the country hear the truth about what the GOP stands for and the failure of the Democrats’ progressive policies.”
The party has also launched new videos aimed at recruiting volunteers to work for the country’s future.
(The first of three recruitment videos.)
According to the Washington Examiner, RNC Chairman Mike Shields is already crediting the new emphasis on data analytics with a role in the victory of Republican David Jolly in the special election in Florida to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Jolly, a longtime Young aide but rookie campaigner, defeated establishment Democrat Alex Sink who had won a statewide election for Florida’s chief financial officer in 2006 and only narrowly lost to Rick Scott in the 2010 governor’s race.
Long before the March 11 special election, Shields said, the RNC was supplying targeted smartphone apps to volunteers in the district to help them show how the party is prepared to address concerns in various issues, such as health care, the economy or education.
“Really, what that is, is us beating the Democrats at their own game,” Shields said. “We’ve taken some giant strides toward being able to do that.”
(Second recruitment video)
Meanwhile, the RNC is preparing for the gear up to 2016 by considering ways the primary elections will be decided. Chiefly, that will mean decisions on debates – how often they will take place and, crucially, who the moderators will be.
In the 2012 primary, Republican presidential contenders debated 20 times around the country. The debates made for some great television moments, and may have introduced Republican stars to people who otherwise might have never considered the party.
But their number and the fact that they were often moderated by journalists with ill-concealed bias gave them power to mold the race out of proportion to their actual importance to Republican voters.
An easy example is George Stephanopoulos and his question in a Jan. 6, 2012, debate to candidate Mitt Romney about whether states should have the right to ban contraception. It was a stupid question, Romney answered it the way any sane American would, but it unleashed a campaign meme about Republicans and the alleged “war on women that continues to this day.”
(Note to RNC: Never again should someone named Stephanopoulos get a mike at a GOP debate. Never.)
Shields told reporters in Memphis that it’s too early to say exactly how things might change in the debate arena.
“I don’t know the answer to that right now,” he said, according to the Daily Caller.
“But I certainly believe that when you’re taking control of your own debates, what that means is you are eliminating people who are trying to depose your candidates who clearly are from the other party and have no interest in helping your primary voters vote on the things they care about but are asking questions that help the other side.”
(Third recruitment video)
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