You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

With Romney as Nominee, RNC Ramps Up Digital Operation

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, April 25 2012

The Republican party apparatus is now mobilizing for Mitt Romney. Photo: Austen Hufford

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declared on Wednesday that Mitt Romney had won enough delegates for him to be considered the party's presumptive presidential nominee. That means that both the RNC and the Romney campaign will merge their operations to hunt down every vote across the nation both online and offline.

"The Republican National Committee is going to become the organizational hub for campaign activity," said Saul Anuzis, chairman of the RNC's technology committee, in an interview. "As the campaigns fought through the primary season, the party in particular was able to continue to keep growing, building and expanding our technological tools."

Though SuperPACs are expected to play an outsized role both on television and online both in the 2012 presidential and down-ballot races, they're legally prohibited from coordinating directly with the campaigns. The RNC is chartered to be the main coordinating body for the campaigns.

"We're obviously well on our way with the planning stages, and today is the beginning of our discussions to merge it all together as one," said RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.

The RNC already, however, has plans to dispatch digital directors to 13 battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvannia, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"They assist with the local and state parties," said Anuzis. "We're sending out people who are versed in the technology and the different vendors out there, helping them to integrate into the Voter Vault system so that we can track all that data."

He added: "You know, oftentimes what'll happen is someone will sign up with a third party vendor and produce all this information and the information will get stuck in that campaign's data center other than sharing that data to all Republicans up and down the line. We're making a very conscious effort at integrating our systems in a much more effective manner."

The RNC has been busy building its GOP Social Victory Center, a Facebook-based app that will make use of the social network's social graph to quickly enable volunteers to take action. The RNC hopes to launch the app by the end of the month.

The app will keep its users updated with news and talking points that the RNC wants to publicize, but it'll also enable users to take action, such as submitting absentee ballot applications, see early voting deadlines, donate to the party, and to invite friends to events with Eventbrite. The app even features a call tool that the RNC will use to hook volunteers up with voters in GOTV efforts.

But it will also help the RNC to better understand its supporters.

"We're starting to collect more information on our volunteers, and their preferences, and their likes, and we're building a custom profile within the Social Victory Center, and that goes all the way down to the state," said Andrew Abdel-Malik, a staffer who worked on the app. "So if you're in Wisconsin, for example, we want to make sure you have access to absentee ballot voter applications, and the latest news, and the latest opportunities to volunteer and to help Republicans get elected."

The committee has also contracted out with several vendors to build out its digital infrastructure while the Obama campaign has hired staff in-house. So for example, the RNC has contracted with Advantage to create a mobile get-out-the-vote app that will enable volunteers to make calls, send out e-mails and access precinct walk lists on their mobile devices, he said. And they've worked with multiple digital media buying agencies such as CampaignGrid, Resonate and Targeted Victory to plan highly-targeted digital advertising campaigns over the next several months. The RNC is also working with TargetPoint Consulting to match Obama's own in-house data boffins.