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.