In the weeks following the 2012 elections, the post-mortems revealed how tech-savvy Obama’s re-election operation had been. The campaign built a revolutionary data-sharing platform and had more than 300 technologists and analysts on staff. In October of 2012, polls were showing a very close race, and the president’s approval rating hovered near 50 percent. So on election night, when battleground states began falling like dominoes into Obama’s column, and when Romney came up 126 electoral votes short, many people right of center were stunned.
Virginia’s gubernatorial elections just weeks ago offered the first test of whether the GOP had learned its lessons from 2012—and an honest assessment shows more work to be done. Democrat Terry McAuliffe scaled down Obama’s model, contracting with BlueLabs, an analytics and data company started by some of Obama for America’s senior analytics staff, and fundraising and get-out-the-vote firm NGP VAN to model and target Virginians. McAuliffe ultimately won by less than 2.5 percent.
Republicans need to do better.