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NATIONAL JOURNAL: Spotlight - Republicans' Digital State of Affairs

POSTED 2 years ago BY Go BIG Media, Inc.

SPOTLIGHT Republicans' Digital State of Affairs

After feeling left behind by some of Democrats' digital innovations in 2012, Republicans made big improvements in the 2014 elections. But the NRCC and NRSC's digital chiefs highlighted where and why their party has to keep improving at a Tuesday panel.

-- The biggest one: online fundraising. NRSC chief digital strategist Tim Cameron noted that the committee raised $18 million in the 2014 cycle, breaking internal records. The problem? The DSCC tripled that figure (and the DCCC raised even more). "We have to continue to close the fundraising gap or it will cost us an election," Cameron said. The NRCC's Tom Newhouse spoke of GOP incumbents nervously watching hundreds of thousands of online dollars flow to their opponents via ActBlue. But Newhouse noted that 2014 was important because the party's efforts showed candidates that it was possible to raise good money online, which few lower-level GOP campaigns have done in the past.

-- Both strategists said that, by and large, the most competitive campaigns are shifting toward more targeted media strategies and that that work must continue. Newhouse singled out NY-19 as a good example for other GOP campaigns: The district is split between multiple media markets, including a slice of expensive New York City airwaves, which encouraged Rep. Chris Gibson's (R-NY) campaign to spend significantly ondigital advertising to avoid burning too much money on TV that would air outside NY-19's lines.

-- Now, both committees are making sure that digital communication plays a big role in the House and Senate GOP's early efforts to keep the majority. Incumbents' biggest advantage is their platform to communicate with constituents, Cameron said. Building adigital presence in 2015, including building up email lists that will return the investment many times over in late 2016, is a key task he is impressing on Republican incumbents this year.

2014 was a year of digital progress for Republicans. But there's still plenty on the to-do list for the party committees and their incumbents.
-- Scott Bland


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