Politico reports on a conference at Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas on Thursday and Friday:
“The bottom line is that the Obama campaign [had] a candidate that was very hard to lay a glove on because he was somebody that the American people, by and large, had decided that they just liked,” said Romney’s deputy campaign manager Katie Packer Gage.
“It was one of the most frustrating things in our campaign,” Gage added. “In focus group after focus group, when you would sit down with this sort of narrow slice of voters — undecided female voters who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 — they weren’t ready to vote for Barack Obama yet, but when we would test message point after message point after message point, there was almost nothing that would stick to this guy because they just liked him personally.”
The Obama team believes that the selection of Paul Ryan cost Romney Florida, eating into his support among Cubans because of his past opposition to the embargo, galvanizing Sunshine State volunteers for Obama and raising doubts among seniors over what his budget plan might do to Medicare.
We needed to make this a state-by-state race, and we needed to take a state like Florida and turn it into a battle over each precinct,” [national field director Jeremy] Bird said.
“Traditionally you win a primary and somebody drops out because resources just stall,” said Gage. “When we came out of our short-lived win in Iowa, you would have typically seen several candidates drop out at that point, but all of these candidates had one or two big, big donors that could keep them alive a while longer. And that’s what created this long slog effect.”
Gage said Romney’s inner circle thought frequently about how to persuade mega-donors like Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess to stop financing the conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who both forced Romney to the right.Politico also reports on a meeting of GOP operatives:
The Romney campaign is in the process of transferring all of its voter contact data to the RNC — a database that includes one million donor contacts and 2.2 active email addresses from theRomney list, as well as 300 pages of strategy memos and analytics information.
How to build on those contacts in the next four years and continue to grow the party’s email database is the central question facing the GOP now, said veteran GOP strategist Peter Pasi, a partner at Emotive who did digital work for Rick Santorum’s campaign, among others, and who attended Thursday’s meeting.
“How can we build structures … that can last 10 years and be refined no matter who’s the chairman and who’s in the White House?” he told POLITICO earlier this week, adding that the party needs to build “a digital infrastructure that reflects kind of a movement and a belief — not just [one] campaign.”
In addition to building that database, Republicans need to figure out how to standardize their voter information to include all kinds of data like the Obama campaign did in 2012. The Obama campaign was able to micro-target voters by cross-referencing such things as television-viewing habits and information collected from Facebook and email.
“The Obama campaign found a way to integrate social media, technology, email databases, fundraising databases and consumer market data,” said GOP digital strategist Vincent Harris, who did digital work for Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry in 2012. “That does not exist on the Republican side to that degree.”
CNN "Gut Check" asked IOP director Trey Grayson for lessons from the Harvard conference:
GUT CHECK: What are the three bullet points that future campaign advisers are going to take away from the lessons learned in the 2012 presidential campaign?
GRAYSON: 1. Even with all the analytics and data that campaigns have and use, the individual contact of going door-to-door or friend-to-friend on Facebook is still the most effective way to reach voters 2. Utilizing social media to reach those voters that you otherwise could not reach. For example, Obama supporters were Facebook friends with 98% of U.S. voters. 3. Diminishing returns of television advertising late in the campaign.