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 »
After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."
Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."
"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."