It’s time for Republicans to step up their ground game.

In 2010, nobody doubted that the key to victory was the enormous amount of grassroots support given to candidates like Ted Cruz, who came from behind to whollop well-funded incumbents in important statewide races. In 2012, enthusiasm waned in the wake of the Romney nomination, and may conservatives doubted how successful Republicans would be, given the apparent weakness of the top-ticket candidate.

In 2014, enthusiasm for a true, election-winning ground game has all but waned. Not because of any one candidate in particular, but because of the realization that using old tactics on the same audience is no longer a winning strategy.

In Texas, we’re seeing a groundswell of support for groups like Battleground Texas, who are quickly filling their ranks with OFA and Obama campaign veterans–and these people know what they’re doing. They’re playing the long game, and they’re not just focusing on devoted liberals like the people we saw supporting Wendy Davis during last year’s abortion rights spectacle.

Groups like Battleground depend on tactics that build relationships outside of the political sphere, and they’re making waves in the current cycle. Via Politico:

The Davis campaign’s bet is that, with the help of the grassroots-focused group Battleground Texas, it can increase turnout just enough with women and minorities to push her into viable territory. The campaign also touts its ground game: by its count, nearly 18,700 people have volunteered in some capacity, knocking on about 170,000 doors and making more than 1.4 million phone calls. Davis noted that the financial support has been “groundbreaking in terms of the sheer number of people donating to the race.” (Her team claims more than 133,000 individual donors.)

Conservatives proved in 2010 that they’re capable of running a spectacular ground game, but changing demographics and a greater emphasis on cultural diversity demand we broaden the spectrum of people we’re reaching out to during campaign season.

Battleground has stressed that its goals extend beyond 2014, though Brown emphasized in an interview that this year’s cycle is just as important as the broader effort — “it’s about winning every single election you’re in,” she said. In any case, it’s clear that Battleground, rather than Davis specifically, is what worries Republicans in a state where the Democratic-leaning Latino population is growing rapidly.

Democrats may be the underdogs, but they believe in their candidates. They understand the importance of planning ahead, and talking to voters all over the country about why their policies will help improve the lives of Americans; it’s time for conservatives to join that conversation. It’s important to remember not just who we are, but why we think the way we do about education, job growth, and economic prosperity. We need to get out into communities we’ve never visited before and explain to voters why conservative policies have made states like Texas a great place to live and do business.

If we fail to do this, the Democrats will have a very easy job of convincing moderates and independents that Republicans really are the party of no–it’s hard to defend yourself if you don’t bother to show up.