the case of Lucas County, Ohio. For all the talk of the pummeling Romney
received in paid media over the auto bailout, Obama fared no better than he did
in other urban centers statewide in Lucas County, home of auto-centric Toledo (the town Jeep was supposed to be shipping jobs from, according to a Romney ad). Nor was Lucas County was among the 18 Ohio counties -- mostly in the south of
the state -- where the president did better than he did in 2008.
television ads still play an important role, particularly downballot, the
election results clearly show that Republican campaigns need to be just as
aggressive with their grassroots outreach, online persuasion, and data
collection and analysis as their media buys.
2008 election, Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe outlined a key shift in
how the campaign had set priorities for itself. The campaign spent its first
dollars fully funding grassroots organizers in swing states, and then funded TV
out of what was left over. A groundbreaking digital operation ensured that the
campaign had ample resources to do both. The Obama re-election campaign repeated
how Obama's ground game helped him outperform the final polling margins in
key swing states this year, such as Florida and Colorado, the fact that the
Republican campaign class has failed to adapt is striking.
might future Republican campaigns and outside groups spend money differently?
disproportionate amount of postmortem coverage has focused on Obama's data and
technology operation which was bigger -- though also qualitatively different
-- than 2008. Instead of relying
on the magic of a youthful candidate, big rallies, and racking up a billion
minutes of view time on YouTube, Obama 2012 used quantitative analysis to
squeeze out every last advantage it could, reflecting the "grind it out" mentality
of this year's campaign.
attention, it would be only natural for GOP donors and operatives looking for
ways to win in 2014 and 2016 to fixate on replicating the Big Data campaign and
seek out data scientists, behavioral economists, and silver-bullet technologies
in an effort to catch up.
need to: It is true that the Democrats are ahead in the race to master the science
of winning elections. But technology isn't everything. And if Republicans take
the wrong lessons from this defeat, they could find themselves in an even
bigger hole four years from now.
the Best and the Brightest, From Everywhere
pressing and alarming deficit Republican campaigns face is in human capital,
not technology. From recruiting Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in 2008, to Threadless
CTO Harper Reed in 2012, Democrats have
imported the geek culture of Silicon Valley's top engineers into their
campaigns. This has paid significant dividends for two election cycles running.
We can partially predict what the mature technologies of 2016 will be by looking at what the new ones were this year.
is ideologically neutral and can be built or appropriated by either party. A
campaign workforce well versed in the skills needed to win the modern campaign
is much harder to replicate than a program. Creative thinking is a necessity.