The GOP Technology/Message Gap: Impossible To Overcome?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Democrats, Republicans, Technology

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This New York Times article lays out THE reason why the GOP got their asses handed to them last November.

In short, they’re simply behind the times. Both from a technology and messaging standpoint.

Now, their are plenty in the GOP who feel like they need to change, adopt new messaging, open the tent, run smarter campaigns, etc. One of them is GOPer Patrick Ruffini, who attended a Dem political strategy summit recently…

On Nov. 30, more than 2,000 progressives shuffled into the Washington Convention Center to participate in RootsCamp, an annual series of seminars hosted by the New Organizing Institute, where the most cutting-edge digital and grass-roots organizing techniques are discussed. The shaggy and the achingly earnest are well represented at RootsCamp, which makes it an easy target of derision from the right. A reporter from the conservative publication The Daily Caller attended the postelection gathering in 2010 and made great sport of the “unconference,” with its self-conscious inclusiveness, which the reporter termed “multilingual, multicultural and multi-unpurposeful.”

But the handful of conservatives who attended the conference this past November were in no mood to sneer. One was Patrick Ruffini, a 34-year-old leader of the G.O.P.’s young-and-restless digerati. At RootsCamp, his breathless tweets of the sessions held by top Obama organizers — “In eight years, calling people will be obsolete”; “Digital organizing director and field director will be one and the same” — set off a buzz among Republican techies. Ruffini was plainly impressed by the openness of the experience. “I’m like, Wow, they’re doing this in front of 2,000 people, and the system seems to actually work,” he told me a month later. “The thing I was struck by at RootsCamp was that in many ways, the Democratic technology ecosystem has embraced the free market — whereas the Republican one sort of runs on socialism, with the R.N.C. being the overlord.”

Wait, the GOP organizes their campaigns…like a church? You don’t say.

So that speaks to the tech gap. It’s very wide right now, but could be closed rather quickly because younger GOPers are interested in fixing it. And let’s face it…there’s money in them thar hills.

But what about the perception/message of the GOP? Check out this focus group of swing voters…

About an hour into the session, Anderson walked up to a whiteboard and took out a magic marker. “I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.”

“Young people,” one woman called out.

“Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.”“Change.”“Open-minded.”“Spending.”“Handouts.”“Green.”“More science-based.”

When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.”

And this is really why I’m asking the “impossible” in the title. Do we really think Dems are going to become less progressive? Republicans ALWAYS lag when it comes to social issues. So how will they attract younger voters who think the GOP is woefully out of touch?

The article is a fantastic read and really points toward some ways forward for the GOP. Whether or not they’ll pay attention is another story.


This entry was posted on Friday, February 15th, 2013 and is filed under Democrats, Republicans, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “The GOP Technology/Message Gap: Impossible To Overcome?”

  1. Jim S Says:

    I think the nature of the modern conservative in America argues against the ability to successfully adapt. The Republican ideal is a dream of an America that used to be but never really was. Look at the popularity of David Barton as an historian in Republican circles. If ideology and facts conflict, the facts must be wrong. It makes successful adaptation difficult when you can’t recognize what you need to adapt to.

  2. mw Says:

    Wait. I’ve seen this movie before.

    Team Obama wins an election by running a very good campaign against a very bad campaign. The demise of the Republican Party is widely reported in the media and leftosphere including here on the Donk. Remember these widely accepted truisms from post election 2008 – 2009?

    “Obama won a progressive mandate.”
    “America is a center-left country.”
    “Demographic realignment means a permanent Democratic majority is inevitable.”
    “The Republican Party is dead.”
    “It does not really matter what is in the Stimulus Bill, Democrats just need to spend for the sake of spending and once it is passed, it will be popular.”
    “The legislative “sausage-making” process is ugly and unpopular, but after Health Care Reform is passed people will like it and Democrats can run on it.”
    “The Tea Party is irrelevant.”

    If you are feeling nostalgic and want to replay some of those golden oldie Dem delusions from way back in 2009 – links to each are in this post.

    The consequences of believing your own bullcrap are as predictable now as they were in 2009. Then delusional Democrats overreached. The electorate reacted with a big victory for Republicans in the 2010 midterms. Here we go again.

    My prediction: The Republicans will increase their seats in both the House and Senate in 2014. I’ll take that bet with anyone here. Name the stakes.

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