How To Take Over: 2014 Republican Edition

By Katie Allen

2014 midterm election turned out to be a night of significant change on both sides of the aisle. Republicans now have control of the House and the Senate, becoming one of the most Conservative Congresses since 1929.

The question is how did the Republicans end November 4th with power over Democrats?

Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, joins the seminar this morning. Photo by Jill VanWyke

Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, joins the seminar this morning. Photo by Jill VanWyke

The answer begins with the field operation to get the vote out, also known as GOTV.  Reince Priebus, the chairman of the National Republican Committee, went into detail about how the party expanded their voter base in the 2014 midterm election which helped lead to their victorious outcome.

The first step is to look at who is most likely to vote for the preferred candidate and who is not. By doing so, with data analysis and research, they are able to give every individual a score based on their likelihood to vote in a specific election. This is called a propensity score. These scores become very important because the party is then able to assess who they need to target their time and funds on in order to get the best turnout in favor of their candidate.

Chairman Priebus used the example of  the major election that happened in Iowa between Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley. If the complete voter base was one million, he would look at the individuals with a propensity score of 80 or above, meaning the individual has a 80% or better chance of voting for Joni Ernst. These individuals would need the least amount of attention because of their high likelihood to vote. Instead, their focus is shifted to those who are less likely to vote for their party’s candidate.

Reaching the voters with a lower propensity score has become more efficient with the use of new technology. Workers and grass root volunteers are able to compile information and download a walking app to their smartphones in order to knock on all the low propensity homes.  The voter contact between these volunteers and the voters is a significant help to the party. They are also able to get early votes this way as well as absentee ballots.

Once these voters have been reached the party has widened their voting base. This makes a difference because the opposing party, in this case the Democrats, is not expecting the widened voter base, which can greatly change their strategy moving forward as well as what the public learns from early polls. For example, polls suggested that Joni Ernst would only win by 1 or 2 points based on the original likely voters. With the larger voter base, Joni Ernst eventually came out ahead by 52.2% compared to Bruce Braley’s 43.7%.

What does this mean?

Technology has helped create a more efficient field operation to get the vote out which has resulted in a victorious outcome for the Republican party.

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