The stakes are high. That information allowed Democrats in 2012 to identify likely voters and customize campaign messages for targeted groups — such as sending mailings about protecting reproductive rights to women under 40. In addition, they used the data to find new voters and ensure they get to the polls.
The DNC’s system, known as the Voter Activation Network is a mammoth, ongoing database that has been tracking the interests, voting histories, family circumstances and much more on more than 150 million voters since 2006. That’s when then-DNC Chairman Howard Dean mandated that every state-level Democratic unit contribute to and have access to the same system, developing a powerful weapon that the GOP simply won’t match in the near term.
“Republicans have historically been a lot more selfish about their sharing of data and sharing of information,” said Vincent Harris, the 24-year-old GOP digital strategist who leveraged social media to put little-known Ted Cruz on his path to the Senate. “There’s no central hub. That integration is priceless, and that’s what [Priebus] needs to lead us on.”
Meanwhile, Harris warned, “Every day that goes by, we are getting further and further behind.”
Indeed, while the president’s Chicago-based geek squad earned widespread admiration and GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s online team endured some humiliations last fall, those elements alone don’t explain the poll-defying voter turnout that led to Democratic victories down the ballot.
For that, the VAN is the unsung hero.Last month, John Fowler wrote at RedState:
Because of VAN the Democrats have a Unified, Distributed, Networked Voter-Contact System that allows them to run an “Engagement Campaign” where the infrastructure is permanently in place, not installed by the campaigns in the months before Primaries or Elections and removed after the election. Because of VAN the Democrats can integrate their campaigns vertically where each door knock or phone call by a down-ballot campaign contributes to the knowledge of the electorate for the entire party. Because of VAN the Democrats have a single training curriculum (See NewOrganizing.com) for all of their campaigns, thereby streamlining and standardizing their activist training. Because of VAN the Democrats have an entire “reserve officer corps” or “national guard” of trained activists who can easily move laterally between campaigns and organizations.
All the bells and whistles of the shiny exterior of the Obama campaign are dependent on the backbone and architecture of VAN. Without it Obama would have been no more successful than Howard Dean. Enthusiasm and Social Contacts do not equal votes unless they are actively converted by the party or campaign.
We do not need to start some random search for “technologists” for the Right. The very same back-end, crucial architecture of VAN coupled with the activist interface is available to the Right under the name rVotes. Check out the History of rVotes here, or read “Taking Our Country Back” by Daniel Kreiss to learn the history of VAN and how we can compete.
rVotes has been offered to the Republican Party but was rejected in favor of continuing to allow the data to be owned by self-serving Campaign Consultants who do not share the same interests as Republicans. The search for “technologists” on the Right has overlooked the architect of the Democrats’ VAN, Steve Adler, who has offered us the same core capabilities that have made the Obama Ground Game so powerful. Ironically, the capabilities that the Romney Campaign spent $40 million to engineer under the failed Project Orca were already available in rVotes had we only chosen to use them. Check out the rVotes GOTV video to see the $40 million of GOTV “strike list” capability that we left on the shelf.