SPOTLIGHT

Mind the (Digital) Gap

National Journal
Steven Shepard
See more stories about...
Steven Shepard
Feb. 14, 2014, 6:46 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans have spent the past 15 months fig­ur­ing out how to close the di­git­al cam­paign gap with their Demo­crat­ic coun­ter­parts, and the RNC last week rolled out its most con­crete con­tri­bu­tion: A new, in-house tech and data star­tup it calls Para Bel­lum Labs. The RNC ef­fort moves the GOP closer to di­git­al par­ity with Demo­crats, but how quickly they can close that gap re­mains an open ques­tion.

— Para Bel­lum ““ which seeks to bring the RNC’s his­tor­ic­ally-re­spec­ted voter file in­to the 21st cen­tury in an ef­fort to bol­ster voter con­tacts from field work to tra­di­tion­al tar­get­ing ““ also rep­res­ents a real­iz­a­tion that tra­di­tion­al tele­vi­sion ad­vert­ising isn’t how the party and its can­did­ates are go­ing to reach a new gen­er­a­tion of voters by com­bin­ing a cre­at­ive team with data en­gin­eers fo­cused on in­nov­at­ive ap­proaches. “I reg­u­larly say in my present­a­tions is I be­lieve the most im­port­ant screen we’re go­ing to be com­mu­nic­at­ing on is the small one in their hands and not the large one in their liv­ing room,” RNC chief di­git­al of­ficer Chuck De­Feo told The Hot­line last week.

— The RNC ef­fort looks for­ward to 2016, when the party will at­tempt to take back the White House after eight years of Demo­crat­ic reign. And where­as Pres­id­ent Obama‘s cam­paign built a soph­ist­ic­ated di­git­al op­er­a­tion that over­whelmed the GOP, the RNC hopes its even­tu­al can­did­ate will in­her­it a team already in place. That will be par­tic­u­larly im­port­ant if Demo­crats nom­in­ate Hil­lary Clin­ton, who, as the over­whelm­ing fron­trun­ner, has years to build her cam­paign ap­par­at­us. “I think this is a very stra­tegic mo­ment,” De­Feo said. “When I look at the very tal­en­ted team on the Obama cam­paign side, a lot of them moved onto the private side. … They’re not de­vot­ing their time, their fo­cus on con­tinu­ing to build out what’s needed [for 2016].”

— De­Feo’s state­ment isn’t en­tirely true. Team Obama has gone private sec­tor, but they’re still in­volved in Demo­crat­ic cam­paigns ““ BlueLabs and Pre­ci­sion Strategies are two ex­amples. BlueLabs gets a lot of cred­it for Terry McAul­iffe‘s VA GOV win last year, and they’ll be in high de­mand in this year’s midterms.

Demo­crats are look­ing at their di­git­al edge as a sil­ver bul­let in the race for con­trol of the Sen­ate. But be­cause the tech­no­logy is chan­ging so quickly, the Demo­crat­ic ad­vant­age in 2008 and 2012 (and likely 2014) won’t ne­ces­sar­ily ex­ist in 2016 if the GOP’s be­lated ef­fort to close the gap is suc­cess­ful.

What We're Following See More »
1.5 MILLION MORE TUNED IN FOR TRUMP
More People Watched Trump’s Acceptance Speech
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.

Source:
×