Let’s have a moment of dirty, honest reality. The quicker we can recognize our faults, the faster we can rectify them. If there is one gigantic lesson that came out of the 2012 presidential election it is that Republicans are stuck in the past. We have a ground game that is largely ineffective and antiquated. We got caught with our pants down. We lost an election that should have been easily won after having endured some of the roughest four presidential years in our history. It was ours for the taking…but we blew it.
The Democrats played guerilla warfare, engaging in hand to hand combat, while we sat back hesitant to get our hands dirty. We took the advice of many consultants that have been around since the Reagan days instead of realizing this is now a tech savvy world that operates in sound bites. And, I don’t hesitate to say that if we don’t make an immediate decision to revamp and re-evaulate our messaging than we can expect to lose election after election after election and probably become a permanent minority in the next 10 years or so.
Republicans have great things to say, we have great ideas, but we are horrible when it comes to disseminating that information. This starts from the ground levels…from the precinct chairs-the most basic but crucial elected positions in the neighborhoods- all the way to the battle for the Oval Office.
Let’s begin by acknowledging a few things.
1. Democrats have the ability to organize quickly and effectively.
I remember speaking with friends in the consulting side of this industry the day after the election as they sat in shock after having discovered the intricate and detailed ground game that Democrats had been engaged in throughout the most crucial states in order to pull off this win. Democrats had been spending months and months sitting outside of Chipotles, with the intent of registering young voters. They set up outside barber shops registering the black voters. They knew their audience and they put boots on the ground to maximize that potential.
As a Texas girl, I’m watching a snapshot of that happening in my own state. Texas, a state that most consider solidly red, is being fought hard for by the left. And, if you think that there is no chance of Texas ever turning blue- you live in a world of fallacy.
For example, take a look at Battleground Texas, led by Jeremy Bird- who is also very instrumental in running the Wendy Davis gubernatorial campaign…a very progressive activists group. In the last seven weeks, they boast that they’ve trained over 1,800 to register new voters, made over 15,000 phone calls to supporters -they organized hundreds of neighborhood meetings. They’ve also trained about 200 Summer Fellows to deploy across Texas over the next year to register new voters, engage supporters and build neighborhood teams in communities throughout Texas. They have an aggressive get out of the vote. And they don’t stop there—they don’t just register people—they mobilize and get them to the polls.
2. Democrats spend their money more effectively.
Republicans approach is to pour millions and millions of dollars into ad wars, relying on traditional television that most people just aren’t watching anymore. And, if they are, they are dvr’ing their favorite shows and fast forwarding through the commercials. Democrats are taking a large part of those millions and choosing to invest them into people on the ground, engaging potential voters eyeball to eyeball.
If we want to win the battle over the hearts and minds of voters, we are going to have to get our hands dirty, change our old way of thinking and be willing to spend money a different way.
Speaking of money and using our resources wisely, during the last election, Obama put up a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” post that had 5,598,171 views. He reached over 5 million people and didn’t have to pay a penny! Where
was our digital presence? We had a small one but nothing near what they used.
3. Democrats avoid contentious primaries .
We are great at slicing up all of our guys so that when the winner walks out of primaries they are beat up and bloody and walk into the general elections still wearing the deep wounds of the primary. Democrats have been great at selecting their guy pretty quickly, rallying around him and clearing the field for his run…automatically putting themselves at a huge advantage.
4. Democrats are defining their message and doing it with unity.
We know we have the best ideas. We know that our policies work. We know from history that a large and overreaching government makes for a smaller and weaker individual. Why are we being so apathetic in our messaging? Take for example our official response to the SOTU. Cathy Rodgers looked pretty and was well spoken. Certainly, I was relieved at least not to see a trembling hand reaching for a water bottle this time around. But what did she really say, other than “we disagree.” What did she offer in lieu of what Obama offered? Nothing but empty and pretty rhetoric
That was so typical of the Republican party. You had a national stage, a grand opportunity, to expound on the success of conservative principles all while pointing to 5 disastrous years to prove that liberal policies never work. And we blew it!
If we do not recognize our problems and make an immediate effort to change, I do not doubt that within the next decade or two the Republican party can expect to become a permanent minority.
I had the opportunity to chat about all of this with Ed Dean, the host of Ed Dean Radio, this last week. If you’d like to listen in, we begin around the 42 minute mark.
* You can follow Brittany Pounders at @LibertyBritt.