Republicans Seek New Strategy for Campaigns

Republicans putting sweat equity into campaigns earlier than ever new memo shows.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus talks with members of the press after speaking at the National Press Club March 18, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
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The Republican National Committee is stepping up its ground game, according to a new memo released Monday.

Instead of dumping millions into television ads and get-out-the-vote efforts in the final 90 days of campaigns as it usually does, the RNC is looking to invest in infrastructure far ahead of election years.

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"Things have changed. That strategy is both outdated and ineffective," RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer said in the memo.

"That's why Chairman Priebus has changed the role of the RNC. The lesson from 2012 is we must have a permanent ground game."

In the push to build more local infrastructure, Republicans are zeroing in on black, Hispanic and Asian-Pacific neighborhoods where Democrats have long held the edge.

Nearly one year ago in the 2012 election, President Barack Obama won minority constituencies with overwhelming success, beating Mitt Romney 71 percent to 27 percent among Hispanic voters. Obama also won 93 percent of the black voters who outvoted whites in 2012.

Despite spending $404 million in the last election cycle, Republicans did not seem to be able to crack the Democrats' connection with minority voters.

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The evolving and shifting Demographic makeup of the country has long been a topic of concern for Republicans who can no longer rely solely on white voters to win national elections, but have also struggled to build their minority support in critical swing states such as Colorado, Virginia and Florida.

Republicans are spending more this election cycle on putting campaign advocates on the ground earlier in the cycle.

"These individuals will work block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood to identify new voters and build relationships," Spicer said. "They are the eyes and ears on the ground."

The RNC also announced Monday it is pouring money into improving its target-marketing infrastructure, which it says can help it better appeal to sympathetic voters online and through direct mail. On the forefront of digital strategy in the early 2000s, the Republican party was eclipsed by the Obama campaign in 2008. Republican strategist Karl Rove, who was behind the GOP's early pushes to target voters more directly, argues that the Obama campaign commanded an "army of computer engineers and mathematicians" to create a "huge data advantage over Republicans."

Rove pointed out in the Wall Street Journal in March that the Obama campaign continuously collected data on voters, while Republicans relied on one data-collection period to keep track of voters.

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The Obama campaign also matched specific volunteers to talk to voters who were already part of their social media community or who shared similar interests so that voters' connections with the campaign would feel more natural than a rehearsed phone call with a stranger. Republicans say they are playing catch-up, but they fully intend to be ahead soon.

"We intend to leapfrog the Democrats in our technological capabilities," Spicer said.

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