Digital Footprints Reveal Continued RNC Cronyism, Cynicism

It’s bad enough that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has decided to continue the relationship with failed Romney consultants Targeted Victory to send the RNC’s mass emails.  What’s so harrowing is the cynicism and sloppiness Targeted Victory brings to the table to fulfill that contract.

One would think that Targeted Victory, in fulfilling the RNC email contract, would take extreme care and would want to remove any taint of the Romney campaign from the RNC emails.  (Targeted Victory invoiced the failed Romney campaign for over $17 million.)

But one would be wrong in making that assumption.

Targeted Victory is sending mass emails for the RNC that contain legacy code from the Romney campaign in what is obviously a rushed copy/paste of appearance specifications (stylesheet) in each email.

Anyone who can right click on an email and choose ‘View Source’ can easily find it.


No coder that I know would allow him or herself to do this, especially for a major political customer who must exhibit some leadership.   But the coders at Targeted Victory operate with a slightly different set of standards.  And their managers are not checking.

Don’t get me wrong, every productive coder in the world copies/pastes code.  But the smart ones do a global search/replace to remove obvious footprints of the code being borrowed from another customer.  Particularly if  borrowed from a project that failed.  That’s an ‘investment’ of about 15 seconds.

Mind you, the code is not defective.  It is stylesheet code that works fine to specify the appearance of the email in your reader.

But the RNC and Targeted Victory do not seem to mind that such cynicism and sloppiness is on display to the most casual investigator.


But there’s an even more obvious display of digital arrogance, cynicism and sloppiness constantly on display for us in every RNC email.

Try clicking ‘Reply’ to any of these RNC emails.

Of course, we really know better don’t we?

Knowing the full measure of the RNC’s arrogance, we’d fully expect that replies to an RNC mass email would go off to email-bot oblivion, never to be seen by a human.  Refer to the illustration at right to see where your email goes if you click ‘Reply’ to an RNC email.

Why is it OK for us to continue to allow this at the RNC?

[email protected] does not look like an email address that has an attendant, meaning someone might glance at your reply.  So most of us who actually look to see where our reply will really go would never click ‘Send’.  That’s the way the RNC wants it.

With every email they send us, they as much as tell us that replies to their emails are neither desired, nor will be accepted.   And it’s OK to be right in your digerati face about that.

With an email like many of us got this week from Scott McNulty that has a subject of ‘Every Person Counts’.

Sorry, my own cynicism meter is pegged on that one.

The RNC still insists it is going to learn how to play a better digital game.   Those of us who have a bit of digital sense are not going to believe the RNC until we see things like this change.

For comparison’s sake, let’s look at what the vaunted competition does.   If you click ‘Reply’ to an email from the White House, or from Organizing for America, you get an instant reply telling you how to get in contact – in one case, it’s an email address, in the other, it’s a link to a website response form.  At least the competition has the sense to create the illusion that your feedback matters to them.

To it’s credit, the RNC mentions testing in its autopsy 26 times (although a trusted friend points out that blog or blogger is not mentioned once).

I’d suggest that the RNC’s first A/B test be to send out 10,000 emails that have a return address where the replies are at least glanced at by an intern, and 10,000 emails with the usual [email protected] return address.

One will surely get more deliveries and opens than the other.

One will surely raise more funds than the other.

Which email would you bet on?

I hate playing gotcha – I want to see the RNC do better – much better.

But ever since 2009’s GOP Tech Summit, the RNC’s game has been about trying to simulate the appearance of online engagement while avoiding the reality of online engagement.

Nobody’s fooled.

If we start to see this change, some of us might be willing to grant that the RNC is trying to up it’s digital game a bit.

Related stories at GOP Tech Week