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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lessons from Outside Groups

At National Journal, Reid Wilson reports on lessons from self-examinations by the Crossroads groups and the Koch network:

  • Spend Early: Though there weren't many Republican success stories in 2012, outside groups who analyzed their performance after Election Day believe their money worked best when it worked early. 
  • Know Your Voters: Republican outside groups believe the technology their party uses to identify and track voters is significantly behind the technology Democrats are using. 
  • Feel Their Pain: Donors to both the Crossroads organizations and the Koch organizations were taken aback, in a positive way, by the candor strategists have shown in acknowledging their shortcomings. And when an organization spends hundreds of millions of dollars on television advertisements, the fact that those advertisements were both boring and failed to connect with persuadable voters is a real shortcoming.
  • Stay In Your Lane: Every outside group is different, and each can fill a specific niche. On one hand, Crossroads is a small organization that promises donors the biggest bang for their buck; 97 to 98 percent of the money Crossroads brings in the door will go out in the form of political communications like television advertising, while the Republican National Committee spends somewhere around 30 percent of their donations on staff and overhead. Elements of the Koch operation, like Americans for Prosperity, pride themselves more on being a grassroots organization, sending volunteers and paid staff into the community to identify and persuade voters.
  • Be Accountable: Donors to both Crossroads and the Koch brothers' organization voiced frustration with another group doing its own, much more public, post-mortem, the Republican National Committee. At the Koch brothers' conference, donors grumbled that the RNC's Growth and Opportunity Project report wasn't introspective enough. When Crossroads makes the point that more of what they raise is spent on actual political communications than what the RNC raises, it is about winning over a larger slice of a finite donor base.