Republicans seem to be besting Democrats when it comes to effective political technology that gets their base out this election cycle.
RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told Yahoo News that 70 percent of its volunteers are using smartphone apps as opposed to paper when they do door knocks.
A Democratic data company executive revealed that only 30 percent of Democratic Party canvassers use smartphone apps instead of paper to attain voter ID information for their party. Democrats say this is because the average Republican volunteer “has a higher income than the average Democratic volunteer, and is thus more likely to have a smartphone,” according to Yahoo News.
RNC spokesman Sean Spicer has a different theory.
“We got five percent of the data through the mobile devices [in 2012]. So in other words, we go to your house and knock on your door. Normally, the volunteer asks five questions and fills out the bubble sheet and then they bring t back and then that night we would input it in the machine,” he said.
“So five percent of the data and a few people here and there had smartphones–apps that they were using. Obviously, you can tell from the statistic, not many. So fast forward to this cycle, we’re taking in 70 percent of our data through mobile devices. Put that in a big picture for a second. So if you think about it, not only are we outdoing ourselves, we’re outdoing the other side tremendously.”
He explained, “Here’s what people miss when they say that. It wasn’t ‘they’ [as in all Democrats]. It was Obama. Think about it. It was Obama in 2008 and 2012 that had all this [technology] you’re talking about. It wasn’t the Democrats and so that’s a vastly different set up to what we’re talking about now.”
Spicer says that the difference between Republicans & Democrats is that everything Democrats talked about and did was through the context of one candidate–Barack Obama.
“Think about this too. One of the big issues on the Democratic side was Obama had gone out and created this great operation and then there was this whole thing earlier this year about who was getting access to the data ad they were arguing,” Spicer said.
“Right now, if you’re running for Congress, governor, or senator, all of our guys, all the people with an ‘R’ are going to get access to the data. There’s no argument. Everything that’s happening now will ultimately benefit our nominees. So this thing is building as it continues to build,” he explained. “It’s something that benefits every candidate in the Party. So all the things that are going on in Mitch McConnell’s race–identifying voters–identifying data on people in Kentucky, when rand Paul has to run for re-election in Kentucky in 2016, it all now benefits Rand Paul.”
Since the Republican Party introduced a ground game plan known as “Victory 365” to its State Committees after losing not only to Obama for a second time but also failing to capture the Senate in 2012, GOP state party officials have nothing but positive reports from their volunteers and staff on the ground about the program.
Gone are the days of carrying heavy canvassing books full of outdated information on voters, which volunteers at phone banks and GOTV door knocks used to record data. Along with new smartphone technology, the RNC decided to place permanent field staff into areas all over United States. That effort appears to be paying off as well.
The tight Senate race in Georgia between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn, where the RNC debuted the Walk App, took full advantage for the RNC’s Victory 365 plan from opening up new field offices to entering voter information into the database via mobile devices.
Ryan Mahoney, Georgia GOP spokesman told Breitbart News, “From the state party, this is the largest grassroots effort that we’ve ever had in the history of the state party. It’s also the most data driven and comprehensive effort that we’ve ever had.”
He continued, “As far as 365 goes, this is one field office, but we have 17 field offices. The first field office opened in June of last year. This office opened in July of last year. And I mention that because years past your victory offices opened up in the summer of the election year and this building and the building down in Albany have long term lease agreements. I think the one in Albany is like a six-year lease agreement.”
Mahoney says Albany is important, because the the Republican Party, in general, “is weakest–in southwest Georgia. And so we’ve popped up these offices. And our goal is to collect data that doesn’t only allow our candidates to win in November but to allow our candidates to win from here on out.”
Mahoney says that since the field have opened up, they added VOIP phone systems as well.
“The [VOIP Phones] are a great technology, but they started doing voter ID calls rather than get out the vote calls, so in Georgia you don’t have to register with a party. In years past, you would, during election time pull out all the Republicans who voted in the primary and that would be your universe,” he said. “And you would start pushing them to the polls and that was it. What we’ve been doing is pulling those who vote in presidentials that either didn’t vote in the primaries or that voted in the Republican and Democratic primaries and started to call and ask issue based questions like, ‘Where do you stand on expanding gun rights? Where do you stand on Obamacare? Where do you stand on tax reform?’ We tag that and put it into the database. ‘Do you vote absentee? Do you vote early? Do you vote on election day?’ We tag that and put it into the database.”
GOP foot canvassers, who knock doors in Georgia, do the same thing and enter the information through their smartphones on the RNC’s Walk app.
“Compare that to even two, four, six years ago rooms like this used to be filled up with papers and you’d have the lowly intern that was typing it into the system hoping it would all save and somebody over here is manually pulling out all that data,” he said. Volunteers don’t have to come back to local GOP headquarters when they are ready to start canvassing, he added.
“They can wake up. They can say, ‘Oh I’ve got time before I go to class to do 50 houses. I’ll download my new list for the day and I’ll just go walk this neighborhood real quick and plug in what I’m going to do and then I’ll continue on with my day, which is literally revolutionary and it allows so many more people to get involved with the process.”
Even GOP headquarters in blue states like Republican State Committees in New York and Maryland have found improvements in their voter ID and GOTV efforts. According to New York State Republican Party Executive Director Jason Weingartner, GOP volunteers love the new technology and their new permanent field staffer has been in the state since December.
Maryland Republican Party Executive Director Joe Cluster told Breitbart News that he sees the difference already in this year’s governor’s race in the state.
“We’re in the minority party in a minority state, so the RNC effectively helping us out with anything is a nice thing and we know in previous elections, we haven’t gotten anything from the RNC and their whole game plan of putting somebody in every state–employee/staffers in every state to help put the game plan together for the whole year has been very important.”
The RNC gave the Maryland GOP a staffer for the entire year and Cluster says the staffer has been ” working well and putting together the numbers for the state and whatever opportunities there are to win. It’s been a great asset to such a small party.”
The Maryland GOP uses a voter ID technology, Custer says, that’s tied into the RNC.
“It links in with the RNC data, so that we can provide them with up to date data and then they can provide us with up to date information on targeting voters, which is really nice.”
Republicans in blue Maryland are now able to more easily seek out dissatisfied Democrats in a more efficient manner, Cluster explained, noting the party’s low budget and small numbers.
“The data side has been really good, because they’re able to import into our program a lot of their micro-targeting information on voters that we wouldn’t have if they didn’t provide it for everybody. And we can find where our soft Democrats are located,” he said. “This is good for messaging with the tax issue as well as jobs and the economy. So we’re able to pull lists that are pretty good at identifying the kind of voters we need to go after and that’s been really helpful.”
Cluster went on, “This governors race that we’re having, we’re being outspent 5 to 1 and we have a shot at winning, because we’ve gotten really good at targeting the right voters with the right message and effectively brought this race to a toss up, which is something we should not have been at, but the technology does help because we are able to really pinpoint which voters we need to go after.”
The Maryland GOPer’s claims appear to echo officials in other states who manage Republican volunteers. The Victory 365 program is bringing in more volunteers to GOP headquarters to do more work for their respective campaigns. Cluster says phone hang-up rates are down and their connect rate is “pretty good.”
“We’re not getting that angry voter who doesn’t want to be contacted and doesn’t believe in our message, so it’s making our volunteers a lot more effective.”