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Cochran whizzed, Cantor fizzed

Republican operatives concede that Cochran failed to deploy technology in any meaningful way during the early June primary, when McDaniel led by more than 1,300 votes but couldn’t get the nomination outright because he didn’t have a 50 percent majority. Meanwhile Cochran’s tea party challenger had built up his own rabid voter base with technologies inspired by Obama.

But Cochran’s campaign changed direction over the last three weeks, ironically enough with a team led by Austin Barbour and Stuart Stevens — Mitt Romney 2012 associates who carried deep scars from their “Orca” technology platform, which was supposed to get real-time voter turnout information between Boston headquarters and the Republican presidential campaign’s worker bees only to crash on Election Day.

Josh Gregory, a Jackson-based Cochran campaign consultant, said the senator’s runoff campaign spent more than a half-million dollars on get-out-the-vote efforts, including on volunteers, live and automated phone calls, digital advertising and visiting every county clerk in the state for lists to identify who voted in the June 3 primary. On the digital front alone, Cochran spent as much during the three-week runoff — about $100,000 — as he did during his whole primary campaign.

“I’ve been involved in campaigns since 1999 in Mississippi, and this is the first time digital has been a factor,” Gregory said.

Even with Cochran’s recent success, Republicans say they’re still a long way from solving the technology puzzle and going toe-to-toe with the Democrats’ vaunted data machine. It’s still the case that a relatively small expenditure on technology and data can allow an upstart primary campaign to challenge deep-pocketed establishment GOP lawmakers. And there’s still a wild-west-style battle going on in the GOP technology field, where the same kinds of raw data materials necessary to run a successful campaign are no longer just in the hands of the Republican National Committee.


Posted June 26, 2014 - 4:44 pm

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