SPOTLIGHT

Mind the (Digital) Gap

National Journal
Steven Shepard
Add to Briefcase
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 »
SEPTEMBER 12
Trump to Welcome Malaysia Prime Minister
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
FIRST LETTER OF PARAGRAPHS SPELL OUT “IMPEACH”
Science Advisor Resigns from Administration
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
PRESIDENT SISI TO STILL MEET
Egypt Cancels Kushner Meeting with Minister
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Egypt called off a scheduled meeting between its foreign minister and top U.S. presidential adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday after the United States decided to withhold millions of dollars in aid. But President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi would meet the U.S. delegation led by Kushner later in the day as scheduled, Sisi's office said." Washington decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and delay $195 million.

Source:
“DISTURBING”
Clapper Questions Trump’s Fitness for Office
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last night questioned President Trump's fitness for office, following the president's angry speech in Arizona. Calling the president's performance "disturbing," Clapper said, "I really question his ability to be -- his fitness to be -- in this office, and I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it," Clapper said on CNN. "How much longer does the country have to, to borrow a phrase, endure this nightmare?"

Source:
“PRE-9/11 MOMENT”
U.S. Not Prepared for a Widespread Cyber Attack, Says Advisory Panel
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The National Infrastructure Advisory Council has warned "that the U.S. in not ready to cope with a catastrophic attack aimed at the U.S. power grid, communications systems and other critical infrastructure." The panel "voted up a report recommending that the U.S. establish separate communications networks to support critical systems and take steps to rapidly declassify cybersecurity threat information." According to council member Mike Wallace, the country is "in a pre-9/11 moment" with respect to its vulnerabilities.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login