Friday, November 08, 2013

The RNC Responds to Recent Criticism

While it is en vogue for the loud ones inside Republican politics to criticize the RNC, and that would include myself at times, here's the thing - reality has begun to settle in and some very necessary groundwork is being done. Here is a recap from party headquarters on what support and action was offered/taken in two important gubernatorial races - New Jersey and Virginia:

FROM: RNC Political Director Chris McNulty

Here are some of things we did in New Jersey:
  • The RNC spent $2.5 million to support Chris Christie and the Republican ticket, while building the party’s presence in New Jersey.
  • The RNC had 32 staff in New Jersey, stationed in 20 offices, eight of which were paid for by the RNC.
  • Two of the offices, located in Paterson and Vineland, were dedicated to Hispanic engagement and bilingual voter contact. This investment helped the New Jersey Republican Party and the Christie campaign contact and identify new Republican voters.
  • On-the-ground Hispanic engagement activities were coordinated with our state advisory team of 15 county chairs. (By next year, the team will have grown to 40 new chairs in targeted precincts.)
  • African American engagement staff ensured Republicans had a presence at events and gathering across the state, ready to pass out literature and share our message.
  • Republicans attended everything from civic and religious events to high school competitions, from an annual Alpha Kappa Alpha gathering to rallies for African American candidates.
  • The Christie campaign utilized RNC offices to hold Asian-Pacific American phone banks and to organize the canvassing operation.
  • With a record number of Republican women running for office in New Jersey, the RNC Co-Chair’s office helped launched Project New Jersey, along with sister organizations and committees, to provide training and support for these candidates.   
Here’s a look at Virginia:
  • The RNC spent $3 million to support Ken Cuccinelli and the Republican ticket, while building the party’s presence in Virginia.
  • In getting out the vote for Cuccinelli and the Republican ticket, we tested our new precinct-based voter contact model.
  • Precinct Teams, led by Precinct Captains, canvassed neighborhoods using RNC data and new technology.
  • This allowed for a more decentralized approach: individuals could focus on neighborhoods with which they were familiar.
  • By October, we already had twice as many data points as we did at the same point in 2012.
  • We had 50 offices, which was more than 2012.
  • We had 60 staff on the ground, on par with 2012.
  • Our Virginia-based staff included four dedicated to Asian-Pacific American engagement, two for African American engagement, and one for Hispanic engagement.
  • On the communications side, the RNC equipped campaigns with comprehensive communications plans for engaging with minority communities.
  • The RNC ran ads on Korean TV, commissioned a poll of Korean residents and tested targeted digital ads—in addition to other efforts to reach new voters.
Building a truly national party with a year-round presence takes time. But in just a few short months we’ve made much progress. We already have hundreds of staff at work in communities all across the country. Under our new grassroots-based ground game model, we’re organizing at the precinct level, and our staff will work alongside state parties and campaigns to support a team of thousands of Precinct Captains we’ve already recruited. They in turn will be responsible for building Precinct Teams to contact and persuade voters neighborhood by neighborhood. We’ve made substantial investments in engaging with Hispanic, African American, and Asian-Pacific communities, including staff and offices in Washington, DC, and multiple states. These efforts are based on the same model and organized down to the precinct level. In addition, the RNC is providing playbooks to campaigns for effective minority engagement, giving them resources they otherwise would not have. All of this work is long-term. It’s about winning in 2014. It’s also about 2016, 2020, and beyond. It’s about laying a foundation for future candidates and campaigns. The RNC’s mission is to prepare the field for our candidates. Our work continues on in 2014, and we will refine our approach based on what we learned from 2013.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey won re-election while Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli did not win his race to be his state's governor.  It can not be stressed enough that a candidate must be viable and able to communicate well with the electorate.  Different states produce different candidates.  In order to win a general election, a Republican candidate has to be able to attract Independents and conservative Democrats - think Reagan Democrats - because Republican voters alone cannot win elections.  The numbers are simply not there.

The votes of women, of Hispanics, of Asian Americans and of Black Americans all play into the final tally.  A candidate has to be able to talk to all voters. 

So, in New Jersey, a "governing conservative" Republican not only ran ahead of his female Democrat opponent with women...WITH WOMEN... he also won 51% of the Hispanic vote, 21% of the Black vote and 32% of the Democrats in a BLUE state.

For those determined to work against Governor Christie, this is something to remember: 
One mistake for the GOP to avoid is casting Mr. Christie as a "moderate" because he won twice in a Democratic state. The Governor has by and large governed as a conservative reformer. He vetoed a tax increase on millionaires and capped property taxes. He pushed tenure reforms that will make it easier to fire bad teachers, and he extracted far more pension reform out of a Democratic legislature than did Democratic Governors Jerry Brown in California or Andrew Cuomo in New York.

As predicted in Virginia, though the Governor's race was a Republican loss, as was the lt Gov race, the Virginia House of Delegates remains in solid control by the GOP.  Both of these men turned off women and Independents in a big way because of rhetoric.  A candidate cannot be more interested in pushing a personal opinion as it relates to a social (personal) issue more than he is interested in a vote.  He/She gets a vote by persuading with respectful arguments. No one wants to listen to sanctimonious lecturing or sweeping insults to those with whom the candidate disagrees.

The RNC is now engaged in a 50 state strategy with paid staff and brick and mortar headquarters. The old days of beefing up the bank account at national headquarters and waiting until the final stretch to dole out checks to candidates in need of some support are gone.

To those who proclaim loyalty to the Tea Party and not the GOP or to those who proclaim loyalty to being "conservative" over being Republican (as though the choice is not Republican versus Democrat) I say this - if you demand that those who financially contribute to the RNC stop doing so until whatever hoops you are producing are being jumped through, you are the problem.  The time has come for you to be mocked for the unserious person you are. Politics is not about just winning an argument, it is about winning elections.  In order to govern, the party must win the election. That, my friends, is Politics 101.

And for the completely clueless who proudly boast Libertarian support? That vote process can go either way. Those within the Tea Party leaning faction of the Republican population don't seem to realize that often the Libertarian vote aids the Democrat in the race.  In the case of the Virginia race, one poll showed that 2/3 of those voting for the Libertarian candidate held McAuliffe as a second choice, not Cuccinelli.   

From Rich Galen at

  • Oh, the third party candidate in Virginia? The Libertarian? Before you say if he hadn't been in the race Cuccinelli would have won, CNN's political unit points out that "exit polls indicate McAuliffe would have beaten Cuccinelli by 7 points (50%-43%)" instead of the 2½ percentage points he did win by.

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