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KERNS: Republicans are ready for the 2014 midterms
The top GOP organizations tout their funding and organization
Question of the Day
The top five national GOP groups have unveiled an unprecedented, coordinated strategy for the 2014 midterm elections that reads like a war telegram predicting a wide-scale Democrat trouncing in November.
A joint news conference held by “the big five” organizations responsible for executing strategy for the 2014 midterm elections — the Republican National Committee (RNC), the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican Governors Association, and the Republican State Leadership Committee — revealed a powerful, data-driven plan this week for the final 100 days leading up to Election Day in November.
There is no denying it: The state of the national Republican Party is strong.
RNC Executive Director Mike Shields predicted that victories at the ballot box in 2014 will dwarf the impressive 2010 GOP sweep in Congress. The RNC reported that more than 1.3 million voter contacts have already been made, more than 16,000 precinct captains are in place and the party is well on its way to touching another 10 million key lower-propensity voters, which represents a shift in the national GOP’s “Get Out the Vote” strategy. The idea is that lower-propensity voters who haven’t been engaged in years are so fed up with scandals in Washington, including the Veterans Affairs scandal, the Internal Revenue Service scandal and the recent border crisis that they may actually get off the couch in such numbers that their turnout will be the key to a Republican victory in November. It is a gamble that worked for Democrats during the end of President George W. Bush’s embattled wartime administration.
For the first time since President Obama took office, national Republican groups have the cash to back up their grandiose plans. With burgeoning war chests, Republicans stand to give Democrats a serious run for their money this fall.
The Republican Governors Association alone boasts upward of $70 million in its coffers, largely the result of Executive Director Phil Cox’s leadership. Known for his fundraising prowess, Mr. Cox previously headed up Americans for Prosperity and helped Gov. Bob McDonnell get elected in Virginia. The association has a whopping 36 governor races on its hands this election cycle and are defending 22 of those governorships — fortuitously, in key states where the GOP is targeting congressional and Senate seats. It’s a task the association is up for. To gasps among even the most liberal members of the press corps, Mr. Cox predicted that the Republican Governors Association is “in a position to spend $100 million in the last 100 days” of the 2014 midterm elections. That swell of money is a rising tide, which stands to raise all ships, to be sure.
Republicans don’t just have the money advantage; public opinion is also going their way. A new Quinnipiac Poll released just in time for the press briefing shows that 53 percent of Americans now think Republicans ought to be in charge in order to provide necessary checks and balances to the Obama administration.
The groups seem to have an operational advantage as well, using their cold, hard cash to buy up ad space and make technological advances. The National Republican Congressional Committee reports that 68 percent of their TV content is already purchased and will “go on the offense” against Democrats, and the RNC has purchased new iPhone apps to provide real-time data to an army of 304 field staff in 147 offices across the United States. They are building the neighborhood infrastructure for thousands of more volunteers who will be walking the RNC’s targeted 30,000 precincts across the United States this fall.
While it all sounds impressive, and with all the talk of “community organizing” and new iPhone apps, one has to wonder if Republicans are simply playing a game of catch-up with Democrats, who led the field in aggressive voter contact and technology in Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. After all, Democrats have yet to tip their hand on plans for 2014. Surely, they have new tricks up their sleeves as well.
There is another fly in the ointment for the GOP, and that is how the wild card of the Tea Party will play into their hand. After a contentious contest between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel in Mississippi last month, some wounds haven’t yet healed and there remains a distrust between the establishment and the Tea Party.
When asked, one full hour into the briefing, why the Tea Party had not been mentioned, National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Rob Collins quipped, “It is not inherent to their bottom line to get along with us,” suggesting that groups such as the Tea Party Patriots have raised money off the backs of Republicans in Washington and by gnashing their teeth against the establishment. The RNC, by the way, was quick (and smart) to point out that 90 percent of their political staff live outside of D.C., entrenched in communities where the national party intends to go after votes.
The critiques that tripped Republicans up in past election cycles appear to be no matter for these Republican leaders, who seemed assured that they are on the right path, no pun intended. The GOP clearly thinks that their scandal-beleaguered base of Republicans will be able to put their differences aside for the good of the country and unite in these final 100 days to stop an administration that has clearly run amok.
Jennifer Kerns served as communications director for the Colorado recall elections and for the California Republican Party.
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