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Inside the Republican Database Behind Jolly's Upset Victory (invoking "Pelosi" spurs voters)
NATIONAL JOURNAL ^ | 3/18/14 | Alex Roarty

Posted on 03/19/2014 12:52:40 PM PDT by Liz

David Jolly's campaign says he owes his victory to a "Honeybadger." That's what NRCC officials call their new voter database--- tirelessly built from scratch--a system they argue was essential to Jolly's surprising win in Florida.

In details shared exclusively with National Journal, leaders at the NRCC described a first-of-its-kind political operation deployed on behalf of a candidate. Led by Honeybadger, a continually updating system that integrates real-time data with existing voter files, they say they were able to track voters they had to target, discover what messages would motivate them to go to the polls, and project exactly how much ground Jolly had to recover when early absentee voting didn't swing his way.

Strategists with the House GOP's political arm aren't shy about touting its impact, either: Without the cutting-edge effort, they profess, the newly-minted congressman would be looking for a new job this week instead of heading to Washington.

NRCC officials say, none of it existed in 2012. "We weren't doing any of this stuff last cycle," said John Rogers, the committee's deputy political director.

Even in December, when the race was in its infancy, GOP officials using Honeybadger determined there were two key groups of voters it identified as essential to Jolly's victory:

Republican seniors and independent and center-right women.

The NRCC, along with assistance from the RNC and Florida GOP, targeted those voters for persuasion -- a process strategists say was accomplished in part by combining their own information with what was available at the RNC's revamped Data Trust, a central hub of voter information for GOP campaigns.

In late February, NRCC strategists estimated that, among those who had returned absentee ballots, Honeybadger showed Jolly trailing Democrat Alex Sink by six points. Among those who hadn't yet voted, the system indicated that he led by 12-14 points.

With early voting beginning March 1, and the election just 10 days later, the party was running out of time to make up the gap.

So Republicans targeted voters whom the database identified as essential to victory and the most likely to turn out. And to encourage them, they didn't just deploy a stale message. Strategists at the NRCC and within its legally separate independent expenditure team had measured which messages were most effectively persuading voters to turn in their ballots.

<><> In this case, they turned to a message—delivered across a variety of digital platforms and email—that focused on urging them to vote now or watch Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi move one step closer to reclaiming the speaker's gavel.<><>

"We had a lot of high-probability folks left, so if we were able to focus our message properly, we could create a surge, or amplify it," Rogers said. "Once we switched to that script across the board, that's when the surge started. That was late February."

Democrats roll their eyes at the suggestion that they were outwitted last week. They have reason to do so: Many of the tactics described—like using peer pressure to goad voters to cast their ballot—have been used by Democrats before.

Even GOP officials acknowledge that scaling up their efforts to work with all of the competitive 2014 House races is challenging. And strategists still warn that catching up to Democrats will require a complete retrofitting of the party's culture that could take years to complete.

Indeed, party leaders were so pessimistic about Jolly's chances that they leaked unfavorable details about his campaign to Politico days before the election.

Democrats also argue, as they did in the wake of last week's defeat, that they outperformed what was a right-leaning district in an off-year -- hardly proof the GOP's political machine had grown by leaps and bounds.

"National Republicans bragging about winning a Republican-held seat with a heavily Republican electorate is hardly illuminating and certainly doesn't demonstrate whether their data and analytics operations have joined the 21st century," said Emily Bittner, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "In this race, Democrats closed a wide registration gap in a challenging environment, and this fall we will fight in more favorable districts using proven tactics honed over several elections to turn out voters."

But the chest-thumping from Republicans should nonetheless give Democrats and their candidates pause. The much-ballyhooed technology and data gap between the two parties is supposed to be one of the party's few advantages an otherwise tough year. And although it's unlikely that Republicans have caught up, there's little doubt that the race in Florida's 13th Congressional District shows a party that has made significant gains since November of 2012.

"[Democrats] either oversold the data technology they have, or we're starting to beat them at their own game," said Gerrit Lansing, the NRCC's digital director, who ran the Florida race's independent expenditure effort. "In Florida, I think both were true."

After the last election, Republican officials conceded they had been outwitted by the more sophisticated Obama presidential campaign and other down-ballot Democratic operations. And while the GOP has downplayed policy fixes, such as immigration reform, to improve the party brand, it followed through on its pledge to invest heavily in improving its ossifying political infrastructure. The RNC, for instance, has hired top officials from Facebook to lead its technological improvements and launched initiatives to help it innovate in the data and digital fields.

The same happened at the NRCC, where officials decided to scrap plans to buy an existing voter database and instead built on their own, which later became Honeybadger.

Lansing, running the independent effort, said his outfit also emailed those who hadn't voted yet pressuring them to do so. Forty percent of those who received the email, he added, used a tool provided to identify where they could vote, even giving directions.

"The media has bought in to this idea we don't even know what the Internet is," he said. "We're happy they think their data operation is so great; it's only going to help us catch up and surpass them that much quicker.

"This is some of the fruit those changes are bearing."

TOPICS: Politics/Elections; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: 2014election; 2016election; davidjolly; election2014; election2016; florida; nancypelosi

1 posted on 03/19/2014 12:52:40 PM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz

Invoke Pelosi!...You bet!

2 posted on 03/19/2014 12:55:31 PM PDT by AngelesCrestHighway
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To: Liz
That royalty check WILL be in the mail, then?

3 posted on 03/19/2014 12:57:13 PM PDT by bigbob (The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. Abraham Lincoln)
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To: Liz
Invoking "Pelosi" spurs voters

Mark Sanford agrees ... another illustration of the success of the strategy ...

4 posted on 03/19/2014 1:02:43 PM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free)
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To: Servant of the Cross

Thanks for the heads-up-—and the link.

5 posted on 03/19/2014 1:03:49 PM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
It's nice to see that Republicans are finally beating Democrats at their own game, from 2006 thru 2012 the party essentially ceded the technology edge to the dems...
6 posted on 03/19/2014 1:07:23 PM PDT by apillar
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To: Liz
The NRCC got a TEA party guy elected?


7 posted on 03/19/2014 1:08:48 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum ("The man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.")
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To: Liz

Wait till you hear about the Rats’ project “Honeydipper”.

8 posted on 03/19/2014 1:11:12 PM PDT by caddie
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To: Liz

Just maybe the new American Eagle has awakened to defeat the lepotards dimwit democraps!

9 posted on 03/19/2014 1:13:04 PM PDT by TEARUNNER14 (While the U.S.A. burns to ashes, Obero eats grapes and play golf in hiding. :))
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To: Liz

Pelosi ..... a political “Poison Ivy”.

10 posted on 03/19/2014 1:19:26 PM PDT by Qiviut (It's hard to be a donk if you're sane & it's hard to be a pubbie if you have any integrity.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Yeah. My response as well.

11 posted on 03/19/2014 1:21:24 PM PDT by Psalm 144 (My citizenship is not here.)
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To: Liz

It’s good to see the RNC is addressing its chronic technology woes.

Pity they aren’t smart enough to shut up about it....

12 posted on 03/19/2014 1:23:28 PM PDT by Interesting Times (
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To: Liz

Just another variant of “We’ll give them what they want to hear” vs. “These are our principles and we will implement laws/policies supporting those principles”

Guess which approach is destined to fail and get you totally rotten representation?

13 posted on 03/19/2014 1:26:06 PM PDT by SoConPubbie (Mitt and Obama: They're the same poison, just a different potency)
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To: Liz

works for me, as do about 100 other things

14 posted on 03/19/2014 1:56:00 PM PDT by dontreadthis
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To: caddie

With the Rats it should be “honeybucket”.

15 posted on 03/19/2014 2:51:25 PM PDT by Two Kids' Dad (((( ))))
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To: Liz

“Indeed, party leaders were so pessimistic about Jolly’s chances that they leaked unfavorable details about his campaign to Politico days before the election.”

Oh, is that what it was.

16 posted on 03/19/2014 2:55:00 PM PDT by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
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To: AngelesCrestHighway

Honey badger? Really, they couldn’t come up with a different name? Has no one in the RNC seen the “Honey Badger” video on Youtube?

17 posted on 03/19/2014 3:14:02 PM PDT by Monitor ("The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-front for the urge to rule it." - H. L. Mencken)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; cardinal4; ColdOne; ...

Thanks Liz.

18 posted on 03/19/2014 3:58:05 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (
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To: Monitor
The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger (original narration by Randall)
19 posted on 03/19/2014 4:09:33 PM PDT by Rodamala
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