One of the biggest challenges for Republicans this past cycle was trying to build a general election field operation in less than six months to compete with the Obama campaign juggernaut that had been operating dozens of field offices, both brick and mortar and virtual, for more or less the last 5 years.
It’s that constant and continual contact that elevates a field program from producing simply high numbers of voter contacts, to high numbers of quality contacts by allowing field staffers and volunteers to build real relationships with voters.
One of the more formidable conservative ground games of the last couple of years has been seen in Wisconsin — both by the state party and allied outside groups. With the Wisconsin GOP opening four permanent field offices, they are proving why they were able to win the Scott Walker recall last year, despite millions of dollars of Big Labor cash pouring into the state.
[Madison, Wis.] – The Republican Party of Wisconsin announced today that it will open four permanent regional campaign offices across Wisconsin as part of its commitment to build the Party and steadily prepare for the mid-term elections. The offices are located in Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, and Waukesha. The program represents an unprecedented off-cycle investment made by the Republican Party of Wisconsin leading up to the 2014 midterm and gubernatorial elections. Grand opening celebrations are scheduled for this Saturday, January 26.
Since January 1, Regional Field Directors have been building on the Party’s solid ground game and meeting with Party leaders and conservative activists across the state. They are tasked with building County Party organizations, developing a strategic coalition outreach program, enhancing the Party’s online outreach efforts, and mobilizing the Republican grassroots army to continue identifying Republican voters.
The gap between the quickly built GOP apparatus and the long-term planning that went into constructing Obama’s ground game was laid out in striking terms in a recent Boston Globe story:
So it was that [National Field Director Jeremy] Bird and his colleagues drew up plans to expand the electorate into one that could reelect Obama. In Ohio, for example, a “barber shop and beauty salon” strategy was designed to get likely Obama supporters, particularly African-Americans, to register to vote when they went for a haircut. “Faith captains” were assigned to churches to encourage parishioners to turn out for Obama. “Condo captains” were told to know every potential Obama voter in their building. The goal was like nothing seen in presidential politics: Each Obama worker would be responsible for about 50 voters in key precincts over the course of the campaign. By Election Day, that worker would know much about the lives of those 50 voters, including whether they had made it to the polls. Romney’s team talked about a ratio of thousands of voters per worker. It would prove to be a crucial difference. [Peak emphasis]
With the GOP Chairman election coming up in the next few months, it’s a question that’s likely to be posed to the candidates. The permanent campaign is here to stay — will the GOP adapt or die?