Republicans Lost in November, Could Fail Now
What’s worse than losing the most important election of our lifetime? Think on that for a moment before you read on. What could possibly be worse?
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How about knowing that we are nearly one month from our loss, 23 months from midterm elections that’ll determine whether or not Republicans are a minority party and not a single lesson has been learned. Let that sink in. We haven’t even learned. Forget even fixing things — there is no great study for us to lean on, no consensus on why we lost, let alone how we go forward — nothing.
We do not even have the little things.
If we refuse to survey the damage now; if we fall into talking about the political tug-of-war surrounding the Fiscal Cliff, then Inauguration, then President Obama’s immigration bill, we will quite literally be past the time in which we can stop the death spin the Republican party is caught in.
I’m ringing the bell as loud as I can. The house is about to burn down.
I cannot overstate how critical this time is. We have to start building, testing, and even failing or it will be too late. Policy positions, legislative proposals, messaging, choosing the right candidate can all wait. Understand this much: building a scalable technical infastructure cannot. Worse: we may not even have the people to do the job.
We have to assess the totality of the loss, consult smart minds, recruit talent, form multiple teams, fund and build. Fund–build–fail until we have a winning product; and on multiple fronts. Volunteer management, GOTV — not just apps, but the entire program itself — all of field, must be rebuilt. We have been running a failing 20th century campaign!
I’ve talked with people who directed tens of millions of dollars in political spending, chatted with Romney-Ryan alumni, consultants of every stripe… I’ve even picked the brains of smart men and women from a coal executive to an angel investor who were sympathetic to our cause. I’ve been relentlessly studying. And I have discovered one thing:
There are a ton of bad ideas out there. Really bad ones.
The folks you want to follow are people like digital strategist Patrick Ruffini who is asking questions and studying so he can hunt out the really good ideas.
To all the GOPers who read my tweets and said “OMG we need to do something,” what are you committing to do?
— Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) December 2, 2012
Ruffini is correct. Bloggers opining and rants from the base are equally as awful as the DC-based consultants who want you to reason away this epic fail disguised as a loss or claim to be selling the next best solution.
I had an epic rant (forgive the misspellings, I was boiling angry) that I hope contained a few gold nuggets. But more than that, I’m putting my reputation, my time, and my money at risk to throw a conference for African Americans and their allies with the goal of reaching them with the message of economic and individual freedom. Blacks and the GOP. We consultants whisper, hell — everyone does — at the impossible task. I also started a call-to-action list to push back against the President’s second term agenda.
Everyone needs to be daring to do the improbable. We need to hit on all fronts where we are weak so we then know how to measure efforts and where to maximize votes come election time.
We seriously need a Commission on Failing (dear rich GOP donor, if you really want to win, fund this). It needs to be made up of consultants who weren’t paid by the RNC nor the Romney campaign, focus groups, and apolitical nerds.
No one is paying Ruffini to study what Democratic nerds did correctly. No one is paying me to write this blog (although you can hit the tip jar above) or to pour over demographic data I’m privately studying. No one paid some of my friends to propose a white-paper on GOP-Hispanic outreach — to which the RNC was silent.
While I’ve tried to channel my efforts into finding solutions and away from the blame game, it is worth noting that every person responsible for our loss is gainfully employed. If the decision-makers stay the same or if they make the same decisions to hire the same consultants — the GOP will lose.
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Let me paint for you, a picture. Imagine Nate Silver’s dataset was wrong. Now imagine that Obama’s campaign underperformed their expectations. Imagine early voting went worse for Democrats than it has gone in decades. If you’re a Republican… you’re probably smirking at what you think is a fantasy.
Now hear this; That’s EXACTLY what happened and WE STILL LOST. Are you beginning to understand the panic? Smart people are very scared right now. We left “nervous” when North Carolina was looking close early election evening.
All of that went wrong for the Democrats and we still couldn’t pull off a win. Forget the economy stupid, we are the problem. We were not just out-executed and we did not just under-perform… both of these happened and we found out nothing worked. Nothing. Not our theories, not our programs, not field, not our apps, not our math, not our models, not our gurus. Nothing.
All of our toys are broken and people are about to get rich selling those same toys to us again.
If you’re convinced that a better messenger will get us the White House, or someone more conservative, that we need starker TV ads, or to penetrate ”culture,” that we just needed ORCA to work, that we just have a demographic problem — then you’re buying into hope and it will not work. Don’t be a fool. The pundit-class, my conservative colleagues, the political-class and DC consultants — they’re all wrong.
We cannot win right now. We just cannot.
Not unless we plan and we build, starting today.