We start from a premise that almost anybody can agree with: that 2012 was a really tough year for Republicans, for conservatives, and from my perspective, for the country. It’s the sort of election we don’t want to see repeated again. And we’re engaged in some very serious critical analysis of what went wrong and what can be improved upon, and that starts with us. We’re reevaluating how we run ads, how we use research, all those sorts of things. As a result, we’ll do some things much better in the next cycle.
But in addition to that, one of the things we encountered was candidates on our side who just weren’t competitive for a variety of reasons.
Looking back at our investments last cycle — and looking back to 2010, where I think there were some weaknesses masked by what was otherwise a very strong year, we saw that we faced a problem of candidate quality that we think we need to address. A lot of the focus has been on candidates who were much more conservative than others, but only because some of them self-destructed so spectacularly — and I’m thinking in particular of Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana — but there were plenty of weaknesses from candidates across the spectrum, including those who might be thought of as establishment candidates.
Republican candidates for Senate were outraised by their Democratic counterparts by $60 million. Fundraising is not the only measure of competitiveness, but we were also way behind the other side in terms of preparation and candidate execution.
Our goal is twofold: to significantly increase the quality of candidates, and, as part of that, to find and support the most conservative candidate who can win — as we put it, institutionalizing the Buckley rule.