We touched on a broad range of issues, but the most important recommendations centered around three areas: engaging more voters with a positive message through a permanent, nationwide, diverse field operation; modernizing data and digital capabilities to provide tools for state parties and campaigns for voter contact; and updating the presidential primary, debate, and convention process to strengthen the eventual nominee.
On the voter engagement front, we discussed the need to make investments, including hiring national and state-based staff, to communicate directly with African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Pacific Americans. The party “has to stop talking to itself,” we noted, and we urged Republicans to engage with voters who don’t always identify with Republicans.
Here, the RNC has heeded the advice, hiring political and communications professionals in both the national office and in the field. Chairman Priebus has made this a year-round, long-term commitment, and the RNC has made similar commitments in reaching out to women voters and young voters. At the same time, the RNC has taken steps to strengthen ties with conservative groups and allies.
Last year we noted, “The pervasive mentality of writing off blocks of states or demographic votes for the Republican Party must be completely forgotten.” As best we can tell, at the RNC that mentality has, thankfully, been forgotten.
By the fall of 2013, the RNC had more staff in the field than in their headquarters. Today, 91 percent of their political staff is state-based, including data directors and minority engagement staffers in all targeted 2014 states. Overall they’ve made investments in every state—over $12 million in political and state party investments in a year.
On the data, digital, and technology fronts, there was no doubt that much work needed to be done. We noted that if the party wants to win it must have “better data, better access to data, and better tools to make the most of that data.”