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Rebuilding from the grassroots up

Rebuilding from the grassroots up

We were out-smarted by Team Obama, no doubt about that.

But wherein lies the blame? 

Michael Patrick Leahy at exposes one possibility, the role of highly-paid, highly-connected consultants, Romney Campaign Paid $33 Million to Two Consulting Firms With Ties to Key Staffers:

The Romney campaign spent an estimated $356 million between January 1, 2011 and October 17, 2012 in its unsuccessful effort to defeat incumbent President Barack Obama.

According to Federal Election Commission documents, as reported by, $33 million of this amount was paid to two consulting firms with ties to key staffers at both the Romney campaign and the RNC.

Targeted Victory LLC, a Minnesota company with executive offices in Virginia, was paid $17 million for digital communications by the Romney campaign. FLS Connect LLC, an Arizona corporation with headquarters in Minnesota, was paid $16 million for voter contact and telemarketing services. Again, this is through October 17th, the final amount is likely much higher.

Based on press reports and publicly available business incorporation documents, it appears that three individuals had control of these funds: Tony Feather and Michael Beach at Targeted Victory LLC; Tony Feather and David James at FLS Connect LLC.

Significantly, key staffers at both the Romney campaign and the RNC have close recent ties with both firms.

There’s much more at the link.

Erick Erickson called it The Incestuous Bleeding of the Republican Party:

The fifth floor of 66 Canal Center Plaza reveals a tangled web of incestuous relationships among Republican consultants who have made millions all while the GOP went down the tubes. Here the top party consultants waged war with conservative activists and here they waged war with the Democrats. On both fronts, they raked in millions along the way with a more fractured, minority party in their wake. And they show no signs of recognizing just how much a part of the problem they are.

We were successful in 2010 because of the combination of a strong grassroots Tea Party movement and financial backing to make that effort successful.

That model — not the top-down consultant model — is the answer in 2014 and beyond.


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In organizational behavior, this is broadly called “perverse incentives”.

Designing good, effective incentives is not that hard.

This could be too radical, but how ’bout…

WIN >>> get paid.

Lose >>> thank you for volunteering.

The prof said, “We were successful in 2010 because of the combination of a strong grassroots Tea Party movement and financial backing to make that effort successful.

That model — not the top-down consultant model — is the answer in 2014 and beyond.”

And thus lies the key to person to person interaction. But even that technique might be too late.

Obama ‘n gang during the first four years essentially completed the dumbing down of the public. That’s a tough climb to overcome and my confidence of doing so is low.

Look at the locations that the ‘dumbing down” process has been completed like California and Rhode Island.

Not a pretty picture, eh?

I agree with your point professor. Throw in the bottomless pits that are self serving entities like Karl Roves Crossroads that also soak up resources to no discernable results. Problem is, deep pocket donors won’t kick in to sources they don’t get a payback from.

This has been unbelievable for years. After McCain lost and we heard from his strategists it was like they were either stupid or double agents for liberals!

We republicans are the only ones paying losers. They all need never be hired again!

“That model — not the top-down consultant model — is the answer in 2014 and beyond.”

I’ll vouch for this professionally. As someone who works in advertising and marketing, an effective campaign hinges on Market Segmentation.

That is…a marketing strategy that involves dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers who have common needs (and/or common desires) as well as common applications for the relevant goods and services.

Not even the best advertising agency on Madison Ave. will claim that they can top-down, market segment a national audience for a product like a presidential candidate. The Left however has been able to segment from ground up through years of grassroot identity politics and community organizers.

Do It Yourself activists such as the tea party and independent what-have-yous have a more effective local reach than the Big Government approach to GOP campaigning. I believe we were effective in 2010 because the revolt against Obamacare found its expression in a multitude of familiar local congressional and senate candidates that locals knew how to market. That’s what my group did. We created our own brochures for Nan Hayworth (NY19) based on our knowledge of our neighborhood.

The campaign got complicated with a national candidate who relied on Big HQ consultants instead of mom and pop grassroot who were in a better position to contextualize the message.

Months nearing the election, I kept getting redundant, useless bumper stickers, ‘signed’ photos of Romney and solicitations for money. Where were the beautifully printed, five point pamphlets that I could have handed out to my neighbors? Where were the invitations to meet with campaign reps to coordinate a local get out the vote campaign?

Live and Learn for 2016.

    Bruno Lesky in reply to Aucturian. | November 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Hopefully 2014.

    Grassroots Yes! We don’t need consultants as much as we need common resources such as pamphlets (English, Spanish, Mandarin, etc.) and perhaps even genuine conservative graphic comics that people would take an interest in if handed out. There are myriad ways to get the word out. We need the “availability heuristic” (See the book Thinking, Fast and Slow) working for us. The incentive is already there.

    We can’t rely on people being disgusted with Obama. They are too lazy, too needy or too pompous to be bothered.

    Trust in consultants is outta here.

    @Aucturian: I can speak directly to Nan Hayworth, who represents (represented) me in New York. She had it all. She lived here. She worked here. She and her husband are doctors who KNEW how bad Obamacare would be. She raised children here. She had good values. A good message. Spoke well to her constituents. Was highly regarded in the community. But she was clobbered this go-around by a true rude carpetbagger Sean Patrick Maloney who hammered home the same stupid Democratic theme song – tax the rich. Now I have someone speaking for me in Washington who knows NOTHING about our small towns. Knows nothing about jobs here and the quirks this pocket of Northern Westchester Country has.

    If a Republican like Nan who is so qualified loses and loses big, what possible hope is there for R’s in 2014 and 2016?

    Republicans have alot of work ahead of them if they are going to get the general electorate to think of them positively.

      Confession time. I didn’t think of think much of Jacobson’s idea of ‘Operation Counterweight’ then.

      I know about the dirtbag Sean Maloney. It’s a little known fact that he doesn’t even live in the district. But I made the fatal miscalculation of redirecting my groups limited resources to the Presidential campaign thinking that Hayworth was safe. Instead of focusing on retention, we ditched our door-to-door for Hayworth and wasted time and money creating a useless web ad that we hoped the Romney campaign would pick up and disseminate in Florida and Ohio. No one returned our call or answered our email.

      In hindsight, I realized people in my district would have/may have voted for Romney if we had focused on selling them Nanyworth first. Not the other way around.

      Like I said, Live and Learn 2016.

        Patrick Maloney I mean

        @Aucturian: I bet even Nan thought she was safe. As long as we are confessing, I didn’t give her money because I figured she had it made in the shade against Baloney Maloney. In my mind, I thought few would believe the garbage coming out of Maloney’s mouth. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I am going to miss Nan. She was a shining star here who knew us by first name. I regret not doing more to help her, but Maloney had Bill Clinton campaign for him where Nan thought running on her own merits would get her re-elected. As I said, R’s have alot to live and learn. Alot!

    jimposter in reply to Aucturian. | November 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I agree 100%.

    Living in Texas I saw no presidential spots. Did the GOP in Florida saturate the Spanish language media? Did they enlist Rubio to make the sales pitch there?

    I haven’t heard anyone discuss that aspect of the campaign.

      NC Mountain Girl in reply to jimposter. | November 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm

      In an interview on CBS’s “This Morning,” Romney adviser Stuart Stevens was asked to pinpoint the campaign’s “big mistake” or key factor that could have changed the outcome by host Charlie Rose.

      “I think we should have done a better job reaching out to women voters. The governor has a great record on women’s issues. We should have done a better job articulating that record, we should have done a better job reaching out to Hispanic voters. We should have done it earlier and in a more effective way,” said Stevens.

        Incredible. The most important election in decades and the people at the top never thought of identifying voting groups and tailoring messages to them on targeted media buys.

        Advertising execs who sell toothpaste and Toyotas know how to do it.

        Our future is in the hands of professional incompetents.

    Radegunda in reply to Aucturian. | November 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    IMO, it isn’t just that locals were marketing local candidates in 2010; it’s also that the national media establishment can’t be constantly bashing hundreds of local Republicans the way they bash a Republican running for president.

We weren’t beat by Obama. We were beaten by the fact that we had an ’80’s liberal Republican running and the fact that the Media stacked the deck.

Until conservatism can break through the Media’s distortion, lies and outright censorship we will continue to be beaten and likely will not recover anytime soon.

I say to all of you; stop spending every dollar you can to the media outlets. They’re selling trash and using the money to denigrate, deny and dehumanize conservatives. They won’t be happy until anyone calling themselves a conservative is ridiculed and harassed at the lowest levels of society.

They’re almost there and they have dedicated themselves to doing so even as they go broke.

    Ragspierre in reply to jakee308. | November 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    “We were beaten by the fact that we had an ’80′s liberal Republican running…”

    That is objectively false. If you had any idea what an ’80s liberal Republican WAS, and compared that to R&R, you would know how asinine such a statement is.

    Obama DID win. He won under totally new paradigms, along with some old ones (i.e., it is VERY hard to unseat an incumbent).

    He won in spite of the clear choice provided the American people. There were enough Snookies in the population to keep him where he is.

      NC Mountain Girl in reply to Ragspierre. | November 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Clear choice, muddled messaging. The number of voters who may have never even seen a Romney ad was criminal. My young neighbor tells me you couldn’t visit some gaming sites without having wait out the Obama ad. There wasn’t even a skip this ad option.

        Three thangs…

        1. isn’t all that what this thread is about?

        2. did I fail to mention “new paradigms”?

        3. Lyndon Johnson adopted television and helicopter travel (cutting edge stuff) to win a Senate seat (along with just buying several South and East Texas counties). WE need kids to help with our messaging.

Please read also the article by Jeffrey Lord at American Spectator. No wonder we are losing elections.

BannedbytheGuardian | November 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Two words were completely missing & 100% of the fun..

SArah PaLin.

No amount of publicity , consulting. Paid media can beat out sheer pizzaz.

In Florida R&R together attracted 10,000 . Sarah got 80,000. thre is the 50,000 loss right there.

SE Ohio GOP numbers plummeted. Whereas Sarah attracted tens of thousands.

Sarah did not even have to be on the ticket & she could have delivered FL & Ohio.

Plus she could have made a tv show about iher campaign.

I 100 % guarantee no one is making a movie about Paul Ryan.

    Mitts campaign pushed her & The Tea Party from any input, from the convention & any consideration.
    And The Establishment wondered how 10 million voters dissappeared,
    GOP is gonna lose again in ’14 & ’16 because they prefer Independants to their base

NC Mountain Girl | November 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm

“We’re from the RNC and we are here to help” is the last thing I ever wanted to hear in any campaign office were I worked as a volunteer. I once had to patiently explain to one of the consultants they sent out to assist that several precincts were redrawn because of new development. I was not a stupid idiot for adding the 2nd precinct of the 42nd Ward to the target list as it was no longer in Cabrini Green. It was a brand new 40 story luxury high rise a block from Navy Pier. There was no voting records for it yet but the odds were a fair number of those dropping a mid-six figure sum for a condo cared about tax rates.

Worse still, the ads the RNC and NRCC would run on a candidate’s behalf were often generic affairs they’d just slap the local candidate’s face on. Thus they could do more harm than good. I recall a gay acquaintance’s scorn when they mailed one such ad, obviously aimed at suburban families, into an urban area with many libertarian leaning gays. It was a colossal waste of money but these people will not relinquish the necessary control to allow candidates to come up with their own ads targeted by area.

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It’s not just consultants. It’s “insiders” in general, from local to national level. They tend to drown out good people with their permanent-minority, loser mentality.

Bitter irony: Romney savagely demonized Gingrich for being a “lobbyist,” then dumped many, many times the sum for which he pilloried Gingrich into these corrupt, treacherous “consultants.”

We don’t deserve four more years of Obama the Destroyer. But it’s increasingly obvious that Romney didn’t deserve to win. His campaign was as inept as McCain’s — it just had more money. Final thought: Gingrich was right to question Romney’s competence and Bain credentials (which I never really questioned before now): it looks increasingly as though Romney was just the brainless, Dudley Do-Right famous-name figurehead.

After watching what Romney ran on, and what Obama ran on, I’m convinced “Political consultants” are no longer effective in winning elections.

“Media consultants”, on the other hand, is where the rubber meets the road. Ask Newt.

    PhillyGuy in reply to Browndog. | November 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Or Image Consultants, Brown. I’m totally in the camp that Romney could have won this thing with a group of people that carefully crafted a voter friendly image.

    Rush was right…Occupy Wall Street was a predicate for making Romney seem like a disinterested rich dude who didn’t identify with the common folk.

    Romney never really knocked that down in the campaign.

You lost me at “Erick Erickson said” – at which point it was clear it is BS.

The fact is that consulting firms and those close to Obama also made out well, that past GOP victories have had similar payouts. It’s a straw man argument.

We lost simply because our GOTV effort in key swing states was beaten by Obama’s. End of story.

All the rest is posturing, finger-pointing, and positioning.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to Estragon. | November 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Who was in charge of the GOTV efforts and kept sending out e-mails about how everything was going so well?

      Pretty much the same guys who had won previous elections, that’s who.

      Look, we got outsmarted. Face it. The Romney campaign made some strategic errors but then again, they trusted pollsters who didn’t actually reach the voting electorate in 2012.

      Everyone made the assumption that Obama could not turn out the low information voters like he did in 2008. He did. We are trending in that direction. The Republicans have to get a grasp of how to reach pop culture voters and learn to win that way.

      We won in 2010 because we nationalized Obamacare and won races locally on that issue alone. We didn’t have that in 2012.

      We just have to learn how to reach all voters, not just our traditional voters. Like it or not, we have to use the pop culture to make our candidates seem cool enough to vote for. Romney was not cool enough. For many people, he was a cold hearted mercenary. Even though he seemed like a decent man, he got painted that way in the pop culture and those low information voters rejected him.

      My two cents. We have to be image makers now.

    Ragspierre in reply to Estragon. | November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    “…that past GOP victories have had similar payouts. It’s a straw man argument.”

    Love you, but…

    that is not a straw man argument. It is a valid and perfectly fair inquiry, and even PROVIDED a previous GOP effort won, looking closely at WHY and at WHAT COST is hardly a vacant effort. Sometimes you can win DESPITE things you did wrong. It helps nobody to fail to look critically at what really happens, and for ways to do better.

    A straw man argument sets up a patently false argument that nobody is making.

I gave the campaign a lot of money and I knew that Romney’s organization (like any other large inbred, patronage-happy organization) would waste some, give some to someone’s ‘brother-in-law’ etc. I took comfort knowing Romney was raising enough cash to be able to have enough left to still do the campaign right. I am profoundly disappointed with all of ’em after reading Erickson’s report.

My circle of friends and my local grassroots political organization came up with dozens of great ideas but sadly we couldn’t contact even the janitor at the Romney brain trust. I started down the road with the Queens County Republicans, then on to Ed Cox, then on to some local Republican office holders and the silence and inablity to even learn who to call or email was worrisome. Now I know why nobody could get a word to these guys- they only talk to each other!

So, back to grassroots- I am going to join the local club (I’ll hold my nose if I have to) and bring some friends. We’ll try to toss out these lifers and maybe when we get into a state meeting we’ll find a way to gain some traction. These guys have to go and we need to become more active at a local level in order to make sure they do.

Well no shit!

There’s a heap more wrong with the Republican Party than campaign tactics and media messaging.

Its core is rotten.

Republicans, at least the establishment, don’t see the Romney loss as a loss. They see it, apparently correctly, as a defeat of the TEA Party.

Let’s show them how wrong they are.

Dems used to be ruled by actual Dem overlords. The regressives “fixed” that. They couldn’t get elected as what they are, on the beliefs they have, so they hid behind the Democrat brand.

We’re not sneaky or afraid to say who we are and what we believe; that is our strength.

Who lost this election? The American people. And by choice. It’s sad, but I don’t believe that it means we are done. We just have to take back ground. A lot of it.