Two Years Later, GOP Shows Growth and Opportunity

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Two years ago this week, in the wake of the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project released its recommendations for how our party could grow and win. The report was an honest and direct look at our shortcomings, and unlike the Democratic National Committee’s recent post-election “autopsy,” it was lengthy and thorough. The recommendations totaled 216 and were meant for the RNC, for campaigns, for candidates, and for friends and allies alike.

As the results of last November’s election should make clear, the Republican Party has made tremendous progress in two short years. But the work did not end in November. The reforms we made are long-term, and we have to build on our successes, rather than rest on our laurels.

One big change is the ground game. Instead of building it up and breaking it down every two years, we’ve instituted a permanent, year-round field program in the appropriately named “Victory 365” program. With staff and teams of volunteers embedded in their communities across the country, we’re working to reach voters all the time, especially those who are not used to hearing from Republicans on a regular basis.

To empower and equip that ground game, the RNC made a multi-million-dollar upgrade to our data and digital operation, creating a new hub of innovation and data analysis within the RNC itself. In addition to hiring top talent in DC, we also opened an office in Silicon Valley.

Our team built an application program interface (API) so vendors, campaigns and party organizations can build data-driven apps and share on an open data platform, and we commissioned walk applications so our volunteers can access real-time information. Today, 70 percent of our data is collected via technology, as opposed to five percent previously.

As the Growth and Opportunity report made clear, it was important to build a real grassroots effort to engage minority communities long term, and we have done just that. Thanks to our efforts, in the midterm election cycle, Hispanic, Asian and African-American volunteers and staff made more than 1.6 million voter contacts to ethnically diverse voters in targeted governor, Senate, and House races. We established senior level advisory councils for Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans, and our Strategic Initiatives team planned, participated in or had a Republican speaker at 2,590 events this past cycle reaching over 1.3 million people in their own communities. In states such as Colorado and Florida, Hispanic engagement made an important difference in securing Republican victories.

Spearheaded by our co-chair’s office, the RNC launched new initiatives to train and mobilize Republican women candidates and volunteers. Our “14 in ‘14” initiative, for example, recruited more than 600 women in targeted counties to get other young women, particularly those who have not regularly voted Republican, to support Republicans on Election Day.

Across the board, we launched new efforts to attract new voters—from working more closely with our state parties to listening to young voters to applauding new College Republicans chapters at historically black colleges and universities, such as Morehouse College. The list goes on, but the most important fact is that this work and more will continue.

For presidential elections, specifically, we knew we had to reform the debates so that we had fewer debates and conservatives had a voice in the process. We have done exactly that. The RNC has implemented a new system where we set the numbers of the debates and choose the partners, including conservative partners.

Similarly, we also know that the old primary calendar and convention calendar were a disservice to our eventual nominee. So we moved up our convention, which will take place in Cleveland, to July. We’ve also condensed the primary calendar in such a way that more people will get the chance to have a voice in the process.

From top to bottom, we are taking the recommendations of the Growth and Opportunity Project seriously. At the RNC, we are glad that others in our party are taking them seriously as well. While the reforms helped produce historic victories in the midterms, we know a presidential election is different. We will learn the lessons of 2014 as we move forward to win, and we will never stop working to build a party that champions equal opportunity for all.

 Priebus is the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

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