According to a new Reuters report, strategists in both parties agree that Republicans haven't figured out how to harness data as well as Democrats. While the GOP probably has the edge ratings-wise going into the midterms, Dems are still better at identifying likely voters and getting them to the polls. The Republican National Committee's 2012 autopsy report concluded, "Democrats had the clear edge on new media and ground game, in terms of both reach and effectiveness." That's still true, and Republicans know it.
Part of the problem seems to be the fact that older conservatives don't want to embrace new campaign tactics. There's also the Tea Party/Republican establishment division, which has led to a communication breakdown. Reuters reports, that Republican "campaigns and other groups often do not share information about voters and tactics."
The party is still trying. In December, the GOP had representatives in 30 states preparing for the midterms. RNC spokesman Raffi Williams confirmed that his organization now has more people in the field than at the RNC headquarters. Spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told Reuters the RNC is spending "tens of millions of dollars to change the culture of our data and digital program." They've installed new data analysis teams in D.C. and Silicon Valley.
But even Republican strategists admit that the Democrats are still a few election cycles ahead in terms of technology. Ned Ryun of the Republican campaign tech company Voter Gravity admitted this embarrassing nugget about Ken Cuccinelli's failed 2013 campaign for governor of Virginia:
The Cuccinelli campaign was going door-to-door using paper and pen [while collecting voter data]. When I asked what happened to the data, their guy just shrugged his shoulders.
Republicans aren't completely hopeless when it comes to digital media, however. The National Republican Congressional Committee recently figured out how to set up at least 16 fake websites for Democratic opponents.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.