Skip to main content

Why the RNC built a year-round ground game

By Reince Priebus
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1337 GMT (2137 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Reince Priebus marks a year of changes at the Republican National Committee
  • The RNC created a continuous ground game to put better tools in the field, he says
  • It's changing how presidential primaries, debates will run
  • Priebus says shift proved successful in Florida special election victory

Editor's note: Reince Priebus is chairman of the Republican National Committee. You can follow him on Twitter @Reince.

(CNN) -- Aurora Ogg wakes up every day and goes to work with one mission: connecting people in her community with the Republican Party, so that in November they can be proud to cast a ballot for our candidates.

Aurora is the Asian Coalition regional director in Colorado. She's been on the ground since September of last year, earlier than field staffers like her are usually hired. And she wasn't alone.

Following the release of the Growth and Opportunity Project report -- a comprehensive post-2012 election review I commissioned -- the Republican National Committee committed to building a permanent, year-round ground game. We immediately began locating and hiring field staff all across the country.

Aurora has the full support of the RNC and our resources. Thanks to our multimillion-dollar investment in technology, and the private sector talent we've brought on board, she has at her fingertips a suite of tools that allow her to identify voters we need to target in her community.

Reince Priebus
Reince Priebus

The data she's plugged into is the best in politics. We've collected data from commercial and political organizations to make sure that we have the most current information needed to contact voters effectively. We've invested in new predictive analytics that are revolutionizing how our campaigns understand what matters to each individual voter.

Not only are we making the data better, we are improving how other Republicans can access our data and provide data back to us. Our new voter relationship management tool, GOP Beacon, makes it easier for people to download and see the data. Our new connecting tool, or application programming interface, allows other committees, candidates and vendors to receive our data automatically and send data back to us in real time.

To ensure we recruit the best talent to develop the best tools, we launched a startup-style initiative within the RNC called Para Bellum Labs, and we opened a field office in Silicon Valley.

In addition to all these data resources, field staffers like Aurora are given a communications playbook with media lists, information on important surrogates, suggested events to attend and messaging on key issues, as well as access to media training, research and social media help.

This isn't just one person's story. It's the story of our field staffers across the country -- state directors, data directors, and Hispanic, black, and Asian-American engagement staffers. The RNC has also hired staff dedicated to engaging better with women, youth, people of faith and conservative allies and groups. We have hundreds of staff fanned out, especially in critical midterm states, supporting our candidates and growing our party. Today, 91% of our political staff is in the field.

They support whole teams of precinct captains. We've recruited more than 12,000 captains nationwide. Those captains have teams of volunteers whose job it is to maintain lasting relationships with sets of people in their communities. They're listening to their concerns and making sure they hear about the issues they care about.

Priebus: Dems lying in wait to pounce
Getting to know Reince Priebus

This is all done alongside our state parties and sister committees. That's why we've invested millions in our state parties to date.

In addition to our on-the-ground work, we're looking ahead and changing the 2016 presidential primary process so that we have better debates, handpicked moderators and an earlier convention. We have two overarching goals: holding a primary that is more informative and engaging for voters, and having a nominee who enters the general election in a position of strength.

It's been one year since I announced the first actions we'd take in response to the Growth and Opportunity Project. Today, I can report that we've fundamentally reshaped the way we do business. The power of our new tools and new strategy was on display last week, when we helped David Jolly win an important special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District. That victory has Democrats worried about November.

Of course, this is just a snapshot. And it's also just the beginning. There's much more ahead, including an ad campaign we're launching this week -- a six-figure ad buy in 14 Senate target states.

This campaign is about answering the question, "Why should I be a Republican?" People have told us that we need to better communicate what it is Republicans stand for.

But instead of the RNC telling people, we asked Republicans to tell the RNC -- and the rest of the country -- what they stand for. Why are they Republicans? And that's what you'll see in these ads. We hope this campaign will help us have that important and ongoing conversation.

As for me, I'm a Republican because I believe all Americans, regardless of where they come from, regardless of where they're going, should have the chance to create their own American Dreams.

That's a message we're taking to every American, to every community. And thanks to the actions we've taken in the last year, we're better equipped than ever before to do that.

We're going to keep working to earn every voter's trust, and we're going keep fighting to earn every American's vote. We're guided by the principle that no voter should be taken for granted; no voter should be overlooked.

Because as the great Vince Lombardi, former coach of my Green Bay Packers, said, "The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary."

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Reince Priebus.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT