- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Republican National Committee on Wednesday officially launched a new voter outreach program targeting what GOP officials say is an underrepresented demographic: veterans.

Veterans who do vote tend to vote conservative, multiple polls say.

In the 2014 midterm elections, veterans voted for Republicans by a 20 percentage-point margin over Democrats in House races, according to the national network exit poll.

In 2012, GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won veterans by 20 points, according to the American National Election Studies post-election survey.

But RNC officials said roughly 22 percent of veterans across the country are not registered to vote and 30 percent did not vote in the last presidential election.

“Veterans have not been given as great as an opportunity to get involved in the republican party as some of the other minorities,” said retired U.S. Navy Capt. Bob Carey, director of the RNC’s military and veterans engagement program.

Engaging military voters could be a game changer in key battleground states in 2016, according to RNC officials who say its time for veterans to answer the call to service again.

“If you increase veteran voter participation percent by 5 percent in Florida, you produce 32,000 new votes by veterans alone,” Mr. Carey explained.

Through a combination of targeted, on the ground outreach efforts, the RNC hopes to recruit 20,000 new volunteers nationwide and register 80,000 veterans to vote.

The RNC has been slowly growing its veteran outreach program throughout 2015, but with Veterans Day approaching the party is planning to ramp up its efforts by engaging with members of the military community at air shows, Veterans Day parades and conventions.

“We want to get the word out there that we are doing this effort and we are going to be all over the place, we are going to be hitting 44 different Veterans Day parades and events this weekend to make sure we engage those folks,” Mr. Carey said.

Officials will also conduct targeted data outreach and social media campaigns and will set up teams of 8-12 community leaders and military family outreach councils near major military installations in every state.

The RNC hopes to get military members, veterans and their families more involved in politics by building on crucial leadership and management skills they developed while serving.

“Often times for veterans that want to get involved in politics, it all looks like a black box to them and they don’t want to get involved,” Mr. Carey said. “They have the fundamental skills to get involved in politics … but they often don’t understand how to get involved in politics.”

To get them more involved, GOP officials will recruit veterans to participate in its Republican Leadership Initiative, a series of six-week boot camps to equip grassroots leaders with the skills needed to work as professional field organizers.

“Consider RLI your political boot camp, without the screaming drill instructors or garbage cans rattling down the hallway. But you will be challenged, you will be tested, and you will have to perform,” Mr. Careywrote on the RNC’s military outreach Web page.

“Because of that hard work, RLI participants will come out of this program trained, battle-tested and ready for the 2016 campaign. They will play a crucial role in our path to victory,” he said.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide