Ryan Steusloff Vice President of WPA released an Op-ed (pasted below) that was featured in the Nashua Telegraph and circulated by the Republican National Committee. This release comes at a perfect time as we continue to conduct the Presidential Survey at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua New Hampshire.
It’s no secret, in the last national election, Republicans took a shellacking. We relied too much on old metrics and bad instincts and opened the door for Democrats to capitalize on new technology and ultimately use this information to drive voters to the polls
Many of us saw this coming, but by the time we knew what was wrong it was too late. However, since 2012, much has changed in the way the Republican party views, uses and interprets voter data that will help push Republicans to the top.
It has been well reported and is now well accepted that Republicans have to be serious about reforming the way we run elections. We must use data to communicate to voters on platforms they are using whether it is traditional mail, TV, or new digital media platforms. We have to stop assuming that the same tactics and techniques that were successful in 1994 will win campaigns today.
We may be known as the Grand Old Party but we should be using every new tool possible to communicate our message to every type of voter.
Thankfully, RNC Chairman Renice Preibus agrees, declaring, “Big changes are coming for the GOP.” I couldn’t be more excited to see a party that is focused on reversing antiquated data collection methods and beginning to leverage voter data, technology, and public opinion to win elections at every level of government.
In additional to this, there is even better news for Republicans – the once well oiled gears that powered the Democratic machine in 2012 are starting to get rusty. The Democratic National Committee is millions of dollars in debt and like former Chairman of the DNC Howard Dean said, “They can’t be a force unless they get rid of their debt.”
And if that’s not bad enough, the DNC is currently centralizing their data collection process and following a one-size-fits-all approach, that will be sure to hinder them in the 2014 midterm elections. Centralization may be great for a presidential election, but centralizing the process does not work when gathering data for unique statewide and local races.
These shifts in momentum leave the door wide open for the GOP.
For the first time in a long time, the RNC is not operating at a loss or with a multi-million dollar deficit – it is a financially solvent organization. Second, Republican are not focused on building a one size fits all approach and have been encouraging private sector companies to develop technology that will revolutionize the field and produce the best quality voter data out there.
As vice president of a Republican public opinion research firm that has conducted hundreds and hundreds of surveys in recent election cycles, I cannot begin to express how frustrating it has been to watch the data divide between Democrats and Republicans widen further and further. For some, change always invokes resistance but at the end of the day, you look at the scoreboard to know what plays are working and which ones need to be thrown out of the playbook.
I can tell you firsthand, this competition and embrace of new technology is giving the party an ability to be incredibly adaptable and flexible. Most importantly, Republican campaigns will have access to analytics of all types and sizes; something a centralized approach does not have the capability of achieving.
Though WPA Opinion Research is not the only Republican firm involved in these efforts, we very consciously made data collection and improving on the same sophisticated and superlative analytics techniques the Obama campaign used a priority for quite some time. What we found was that it worked. A comparison after the 2012 election found WPA more accurate than other national pollsters.
The embrace of using new methods and technology to better survey and analyze public opinion worked.
There’s no question that some changes are coming for both parties. Constricted by debt and following their traditional big government tactics the DNC effort is likely to become static and fall behind the cutting edge. On the other side, the national Republican Party is determined to use innovation to gain an upper hand, grow our majority in the House, take back the majority in the Senate and ultimately put our new knowledge into action to win back the White House in 2016.
Ryan Steusloff is vice president at WPA Opinion Research, a public opinion research company that is conducting a presidential survey at this weekend’s Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua.