GOP Political Operatives Go Back to School

Facts are facts: Four of the last six presidential elections have been won by Democrats. Five out of the last six have featured Democrats winning the popular vote. To prevent this from continuing, Republicans need to learn from Democrats how to win presidential elections.

Fortunately, they seem to be doing that:

Demoralized Republicans arrived in Boston [last] Wednesday night for a rare moment in American politics: They came to learn from Democrats.

Barack Obama’s campaign schooled Mitt Romney’s in November, something of which the Republicans who gathered at the quadrennial, off-the-record Harvard Institute of Politics Campaign Managers Conference were intensely aware…

… The hot ticket at Harvard was the late-morning session in the … packed-to-the-brim … conference room, to hear seven top Obama aides to revisit their winning efforts.

The sages around the table: top strategist David Axelrod, campaign manager Jim Messina, deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, [Obama Digital Director Teddy] Goff, field director Jeremy Bird, opinion research director David Simas, and ad man Jim Margolis. Every aspect of their effort has already been the subject of tens of thousands of words, and they have for weeks been fanning out across the country telling the story of their campaign’s success, but their rivals were still eager to learn.

Republican operatives from Rick Perry’s data-driven strategist Dave Carney, to Mark Block, Herman Cain’s chain-smoking campaign manager, filled the room, many visibly taking notes. Also listening were the super PAC kings: Carl Forti, Charlie Spies, and Steven Law, whose efforts on TV were solidly negated by the Obama campaign’s field operation.

…  When it was finally over, more than one Republican walked out shaking his head.

“We weren’t even running in the same race,” one downtrodden Romney aide told BuzzFeed after hearing the details of the Obama operation. “They were just amazing.”

 That these lessons are rather painful is understandable. Only by internalizing them, however, will Republicans become successful once again when it comes to competing for the White House.

  1. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    Indeed.

    Paul Dougherty

    AnnaS: Someone please explain to me why Republicans groveled to Dems to teach them how to win? Did I miss something here? Geez Louise. · 49 minutes ago

    Aesop’s fable of the crow with the berries, being convinced by the fox to release them for a song. The Dems are dying to tell the world how smart they are, in detail. I doubt much groveling will be required. It is wise to study tactics. · 1 hour ago

  2. Jimmie Bise Jr

    So, so frustrating.

  3. KC Mulville

    Yes, I know that we have to get better at the mechanics and GOTV. I fully agree. But still …

    The idea that the direction of the country is in the hands of Mad Men is nauseating. 

    Who can do the Jedi mind-trick better? The answer should be that it doesn’t matter. But it does. The American brain is getting softer and weaker.

  4. Pilli

    How does the saying go?  ”Fool me once; shame on you.  Fool me twice; shame on me.”  Is there a “Fool me 6 times?”

  5. Pseudodionysius

    “We weren’t even running in the same race,” one downtrodden Romney aide told BuzzFeed after hearing the details of the Obama operation. “They were just amazing.”

    As I wrote in Learn From Your Enemies and We Brought a Knife to a Gun Fight.

    You’re welcome.

  6. Paul Dougherty
    KC Mulville: Yes, I know that we have to get better at the mechanics and GOTV. I fully agree. But still …

    The idea that the direction of the country is in the hands of Mad Men is nauseating. · 13 minutes ago

    I speculate that the GOTV effort for the Dems is overrated, too. I think that perhaps the overall suppression of  the Reps message is the reason for success. The cooperation between media, culture and academia was overwhelming. Any surfacing of the GOP message was met with immediate dismissal and derision. For the common voter to entertain listening to the GOP, rendered you “Not One of US” as the add in Ohio so effectively stated. Who doesn’t want to be cool? (answer: anyone not in the majority). The President’s coolness, much like his acolytes, was as ubiquitous as air.

  7. flownover

    What is the schedule for the next meeting ? 

    The one with the ACORN (oops, wrong name!), the Unions, and the various and sundry multiple voter syndrome orgs, and the foreign contributions collections group ? 

     I think they may have harnessed the nervous energy of a million twitterfeeds, but it’s more likely that the calm determination of old-style Chicago politics had more to do with the outcome. 

    But there is an injunction against that meeting happening, it’s called:

    Omerta

    That, and buying ink by the oceanload.

  8. Group Captain Mandrake
    Paul Dougherty

    I speculate that the GOTV effort for the Dems is overrated, too. I think that perhaps the overall suppression of  the Reps message is the reason for success. The cooperation between media, culture and academia was overwhelming. Any surfacing of the GOP message was met with immediate dismissal and derision. For the common voter to entertain listening to the GOP, rendered you “Not One of US” as the add in Ohio so effectively stated. Who doesn’t want to be cool? (answer: anyone not in the majority). The President’s coolness, much like his acolytes, was as ubiquitous as air. · 1 minute ago

    Were the Dems really “amazing” or was it simply that they were adequate and the GOP campaign was abysmal?  Something must have been wrong with their campaign when a friend of mine expressed her relief not that the Dems won but that Romney and Ryan did not, because they were “really scary”, a refrain that I heard all too often in New York.  

  9. KC Mulville
    Group Captain Mandrake

    Were the Dems really “amazing” or was it simply that they were adequate and the GOP campaign was abysmal?  

    I just hope that three years from now, we don’t fall again for a consultant crew that, you know, we’re serious, this time they got it right.

    No really. They got it. They know how to do this thing.

    All we need is a candidate who can survive the primaries, and then in the general he’ll run to the center, to appeal to as many people as possible.

    Ads? GOTV? Don’t worry. Trust us. We’re professionals. 

  10. Matthew Gilley

    Remember this the next time they condescend to tell the rest of us that the only way Republicans will ever win is if we all have the good sense to staple our foul mouths shut and lock our unclean selves in the basement.  I’m not really in the mood to take advice from our “betters” next time; I’m more in the mood to give orders.  Hopefully, someone will issue an order that puts these egomaniacs in line for drastically reduced unemployment benefits.  To borrow from Rob Long, these are the guys I want selling apples in the street.

  11. Paul Dougherty
    Group Captain Mandrake

      1 minute ago

    Were the Dems really “amazing” or was it simply that they were adequate and the GOP campaign was abysmal?  Something must have been wrong with their campaign when a friend of mine expressed her relief not that the Dems won but that Romney and Ryan did not, because they were “really scary”, a refrain that I heard all too often in New York.   · 4 minutes ago

     I honestly don’t think any Republican (that ran or didn’t run) would have had any more success. They could mimic the strategy, but that would not have helped. The demonization strategy was chosen long before the opponent. I had a relative tell me that they were convinced that Mitt Romney  was just “too mean-spirited”. This was before Mitt had won the nomination and had chosen Paul Ryan. This confused me, because this was from an immanently sane and clear thinking man. I had read Mitt’s bio and was at a loss in our argument due to the obvious disconnect between our common references. “How so?”, I asked. “I don’t know, he just is too mean-spirited.” QED, he needed to believe it. Unshakingly.

  12. Ghost

    We conservatives can navel-gaze until the end of time and it still won’t change the fact that the Left has dominated academia for 60 years and the media for probably the same amount of time. The typical Obama voter has been hearing the Left’s message from the first day of kindergarten until the last day of college, from people they perceive as the “voice of authority”: The Evening News, Teachers and Professors. We have a lot of long, hard work in front of us. We should have started yesterday.

  13. AnnaS

    Someone please explain to me why Republicans groveled to Dems to teach them how to win? Did I miss something here? Geez Louise.

  14. Paul Dougherty
    AnnaS: Someone please explain to me why Republicans groveled to Dems to teach them how to win? Did I miss something here? Geez Louise. · 49 minutes ago

    Aesop’s fable of the crow with the berries, being convinced by the fox to release them for a song. The Dems are dying to tell the world how smart they are, in detail. I doubt much groveling will be required. It is wise to study tactics.