Take a look at this picture from a recent story in the Washington Times. It's view inside the Chicago headquarters of President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign:
Pay special attention to these two paragraphs from the Times' story:
Throughout Obama for America’s 50,000-square-foot office, specialists in digital media work side by side with field operators, Web designers and phone-bank volunteers. The integration of employees with digital expertise together with more traditional political campaign staff is now standard operating procedure.The article goes on to cite a number of new initiatives which the campaign's chief digital strategist claims will create "the most innovative and effective digital campaign in history, a team that will not just surpass but demolish our fundraising, communications, and organizing goals.”
“We’re getting organized; we’re getting very organized,” said Katie Hogan, the campaign’s deputy press secretary who was standing near empty desks soon to be occupied by new hires. The campaign recently put out a call for “analysts and data geniuses.”
It's true that Republicans are engaged in this effort as well but it always seems they are playing catch up. The focus should be on working both harder AND smarter and the GOP is behind.
The great thing about integrating the digital campaign with traditional field staff and phone bank volunteers is that it creates a synergy with a result that is greater than any one area would achieve on it's own. In military parlance it is called a "force multiplier."
The 2008 Lesson
In 2008 Republicans ran a 20th Century campaign based on the successful 2004 Karl Rove model relying mainly on volunteers. Rich Beeson, Republican National Committee Political Director and a veteran of the 2004 campaign said of the 2008 effort: "This operation is working on all eight cylinders." We all know what the result was.
Democrats used a new campaign architecture which integrated the advantage they have in permanent, PAID political infrastructure of big labor and other progressive groups combined with Obama's nearly unlimited campaign spending to put boots on the ground in key states. The same infrastructure enabled them to blunt the Tea Party tidal wave in a handful of states and retain control of the U.S. Senate in 2010.
Consider the following chart from a November 2008 Wall Street Journal article titled "Democrats Far Outspend Republicans On Field Operations, Staff Expenditures:"
GOP: Get Smart or Lose!
In February 2009 In the wake of Obama's inauguration I warned that it was essential that the GOP do a better job of utilizing new media resources. In my "Blueprint for a Conservative Revolution" which predated the rise of the Tea Party I said "we can no longer sit by and watch the Dem juggernaut roll past."
Two and a half years have gone by since I made that statement and yet it seems we are still playing catch up. As we learned in the 2010 election, bad poll numbers for Democrats are not always a guarantee of victory for Republicans. We cannot afford to run another campaign based on a largely 20th Century model. There's still time to get it right in 2012. Will we?
A successful 2012 GOP campaign, which includes the presidential, senate and congressional races MUST make more aggressive use of integrated digital media and enhanced field operations. The days of relying on volunteers to carry the load are OVER if we want to win!