GOP closing the data technology gap with Dems

After Republicans got badly thumped in two presidential election cycles, RNC head Reince Preibus made it a priority for the GOP to catch up in the use of data technology to improve the ground game.  In the wake of a smashing midterm victory, the National Journal’s Ron Fournier believes that the GOP has gone a long way toward technological parity.

In politics, over the last decade, the Republican Party virtually ceded a technological monopoly to Democrats, foolishly blinding the GOP to tens of millions of potential voters. Until now.

A review of the RNC's targeting operation (including a preelection sample of specific projections) suggests to me that the GOP has made significant advances on targeting and mobilizing voters. While the Democratic Party may still own the best ground game, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus has narrowed, if not closed, the tech gap.

A few Democrats saw this coming. "Our side has underestimated the GOP ground game," Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told me Tuesday morning. "Their electorate doesn't look like ours, so we don't recognize or respect what they're doing."

Under George W. Bush, the GOP actually had a head start on data-mining and targeting but, in Fournier’s words, “let its operation ossify.”  In 2008 and 2012, it was obvious that the Obama operation outclassed the GOP, leading many to fret that left-leaning Silicon Valley was going to make the Democrats permanently advantaged.  However, at least when it comes to PAC giving, Silicon Valley is disenchanted with the Dems, and besides, technology gaps almost never last very long.  See Japan.  See China.  Heck, look at the way Venice imposed the death penalty on people who revealed its glassmaking technology a millennium ago.

You can’t keep technology secrets very long.

The jargon for this process is "technological diffusion."  It doesn’t happen by itself, but with focused and financed effort, it is usually possible to catch up.

Technology won’t solve all the GOP’s problems with presidential turnout, but it is a good start.