The Republican National Committee has decided that Tuesday's win in Florida's special election, once expected to be an object lesson in the damage Obamacare will do to Democrats, instead proves that its new suite of data tools finally levels the playing field with the opposition. Be skeptical.
After Mitt Romney lost in 2012, the Republican Party was pilloried for getting beaten the day of the election — in large part because its vaunted turnout tool, dubbed "Orca," failed in spectacular fashion. Now, the RNC suggests, it has turned that problem around. The conservative Washington Examiner details the five tools the RNC used to help elect David Jolly to Congress on Tuesday. They are:
- A canvassing app, allowing people in the field to log visits with voters.
- Application programming interface, which the Examiner says is a "fancy term the RNC is using" to describe how it shares data.
- The email list, which is now synced with voter rolls.
- Voter scoring, which we will get to below.
- Dashboard, a real-time display of voter contact information.
This suite of tools, the RNC implies, is what made the difference in FL-13, getting people to the polls. In The Wall Street Journal, no less a figure than Karl Rove thinks that the RNC cracked the code on voter turnout.
Republicans also substantially erased the Democratic edge in get-out-the-vote. Ms. Sink had Team Obama and its Florida ground game, which delivered a 2,988 edge among the 131,713 voters who cast an early ballot. But Mr. Jolly crushed her by 6,445 of the 52,565 who turned on Election Day. Mr. Jolly, the Republican National Committee and the Florida Republican Party took on the volunteer-intensive portions of the ground game; outside groups took on the expensive, mechanical parts.
And as added proof, the party's chief digital officer, Chuck DeFeo, described to The Washington Post how close they got to their vote goals.
"One thing we haven’t released yet — the RNC set a vote goal" with the model, DeFeo said. "We felt Jolly needed 89,514 votes. He won with 89,099 votes. ... The power here is, we were using multiple methods of communicating to a specific universe of people we knew would help reach our goal.”
So is this legit? Has the RNC put together a digital package that will level the playing field with Democrats? It's hard to say, but there's good reason to be skeptical and to think that the RNC is hoping reporters don't know much about field or technology. (For example: "application programming interface" is not a fancy term the RNC uses. It is a generic term everyone uses.)