MEMO: RNC Ground Game
FROM: RNC Political Director Chris McNulty
TO: Republican Allies and Surrogates
RE: RNC Ground Game
After today’s election, many of you have been asking about the RNC’s role in New Jersey and Virginia this year—and about what we’ve been doing to prepare for 2014.
As you know, the RNC began a long-term process earlier this year to build a year-round campaign and fundamentally reshape the party’s approach to politics. Among our priorities were developing a precinct-based voter contact model, creating a voter engagement strategy for minority communities, and better integrating data and digital capabilities to make voter contact more efficient.
These are still works in progress. The new strategies will be fully in place for 2014. However this year’s elections did allow us to test some new models and new ideas. In New Jersey, we accelerated our demographic engagement plans. In Virginia, we focused especially on improving the voter contact model and utilizing new methods and technology. The lessons we learned will be applied in 2014.
Here are some of things we did in New Jersey:
- The RNC spent $2.5 million to support Chris Christie and the Republican ticket, while building the party’s presence in New Jersey.
- The RNC had 32 staff in New Jersey, stationed in 20 offices, eight of which were paid for by the RNC.
- Two of the offices, located in Paterson and Vineland, were dedicated to Hispanic engagement and bilingual voter contact. This investment helped the New Jersey Republican Party and the Christie campaign contact and identify new Republican voters.
- On-the-ground Hispanic engagement activities were coordinated with our state advisory team of 15 county chairs. (By next year, the team will have grown to 40 new chairs in targeted precincts.)
- African American engagement staff ensured Republicans had a presence at events and gathering across the state, ready to pass out literature and share our message.
- Republicans attended everything from civic and religious events to high school competitions, from an annual Alpha Kappa Alpha gathering to rallies for African American candidates.
- The Christie campaign utilized RNC offices to hold Asian-Pacific American phone banks and to organize the canvassing operation.
- With a record number of Republican women running for office in New Jersey, the RNC Co-Chair’s office helped launched Project New Jersey, along with sister organizations and committees, to provide training and support for these candidates.
Here’s a look at Virginia:
- The RNC spent $3 million to support Ken Cuccinelli and the Republican ticket, while building the party’s presence in Virginia.
- In getting out the vote for Cuccinelli and the Republican ticket, we tested our new precinct-based voter contact model.
- Precinct Teams, led by Precinct Captains, canvassed neighborhoods using RNC data and new technology.
- This allowed for a more decentralized approach: individuals could focus on neighborhoods with which they were familiar.
- By October, we already had twice as many data points as we did at the same point in 2012.
- We had 50 offices, which was more than 2012.
- We had 60 staff on the ground, on par with 2012.
- Our Virginia-based staff included four dedicated to Asian-Pacific American engagement, two for African American engagement, and one for Hispanic engagement.
- On the communications side, the RNC equipped campaigns with comprehensive communications plans for engaging with minority communities.
- The RNC ran ads on Korean TV, commissioned a poll of Korean residents and tested targeted digital ads—in addition to other efforts to reach new voters.
Building a truly national party with a year-round presence takes time. But in just a few short months we’ve made much progress. We already have hundreds of staff at work in communities all across the country. Under our new grassroots-based ground game model, we’re organizing at the precinct level, and our staff will work alongside state parties and campaigns to support a team of thousands of Precinct Captains we’ve already recruited. They in turn will be responsible for building Precinct Teams to contact and persuade voters neighborhood by neighborhood.
We’ve made substantial investments in engaging with Hispanic, African American, and Asian-Pacific communities, including staff and offices in Washington, DC, and multiple states. These efforts are based on the same model and organized down to the precinct level. In addition, the RNC is providing playbooks to campaigns for effective minority engagement, giving them resources they otherwise would not have.
All of this work is long-term. It’s about winning in 2014. It’s also about 2016, 2020, and beyond. It’s about laying a foundation for future candidates and campaigns.
The RNC’s mission is to prepare the field for our candidates. Our work continues on in 2014, and we will refine our approach based on what we learned from 2013.
Gone are the days of stockpiling money till a few months before Election Day. The RNC is operating year round and engaging year round. Over the long term, we believe this approach will pay dividends and result in a larger party that wins more elections.