The GOP's Data Search Looking In All The Wrong Places

A quick Bing search of the phrase “Republican Party shoots self in foot” returns 11,500,000 results.  Granted the results are nearly the same for the Democratic Party, but nonetheless reinforces most conservatives’ and libertarians’ beliefs that if there is a way for the GOP to mess up things, it will inexorably find its way to that point.

Politico and Breitbart are both reporting an internal battle raging within the party.  The battle over how to best create a political database for use by the GOP will probably prove the maxim of many conservatives and libertarians that Republicans are only interested in keeping reins on the purse in the House of Representatives and redistributing the GOP’s coffers among its ruling elite.

What is the current battle about that warrants all of this inside-the-beltway coverage?


A story by Mother Jones last year described the Obama campaign’s relentless use of data mining to micro-target voters, resulting in the reelection of a President presiding over a teetering economy, high unemployment, a highly-disliked healthcare takeover, and various and sundry other progressive issues that would have normally toppled the overreaching Marxist-authoritarian-corporatist-statist-whatever-you-want-to-call-him.

Mother Jones wrote:

Over the last year and a half at the campaign’s Chicago headquarters, a team of almost 100 data scientists, developers, engineers, analysts, and old-school hackers have been transforming the way politicians acquire data—and what they do with it. They’re building a new kind of Chicago machine, one aimed at processing unprecedented amounts of information and leveraging it to generate money, volunteers, and, ultimately, votes.

And they succeeded.

Republicans naturally wanted to emulate (or catch up to) the Democrats’ ability to mine data for use in electoral politics.

So the party leadership searched high and low, far and wide, to find the very best minds in data mining for Karl Rove.


As Mike Flynn points out on Breitbart, Rove has no obvious experience in data, data mining, social media (he does have a Twitter account) or any of the other expertise required to effectively combat and compete with the Democrats’ new-found data expertise.

What Rove does have, obviously, are connections and Karl Rove’s influence. 

That’s the GOP’s problem.

But Silicon Valley doesn’t always function best based on connections.  Silicon Valley functions best on entrepreneurship and expertise.  While Karl may have been a visionary when it came to direct mail, based on his experience with Lee Atwater, Karl has a tendency to focus on himself.

Trust me.  I know from experience.  He is fickle, vengeful and smart.  That combination is dangerous when you’re trying to alter the direction of a party that is about to move back into the 40 years of wilderness ala’ Bob Michel and Bob Dole.

Karl goes with the flow, and the flow he goes with today is the money.

Aaron Ginn, Director of Growth for StumbleUpon and a Romney campaign worker, may have unwittingly summed up Karl best when he told Politico “Karl Rove, to me, doesn’t mean engaging an open-source community.”

Exactly.  Karl will shove out innovation, differing opinions, and will, ultimately, always look out for what’s best for Karl.

The Koch Brothers, those hated conservatives demonized by the progressive left, have the right approach.  They will co-host a hackathon, a collaborative coding event bringing together programmers and designers to work on a proposed problem in partnership with some of the top engineers in the Silicon Valley

Collaborative is a foreign concept to Karl.

But enough about Karl Rove.

The greater problem in the stories from Politico and Breitbart is the blatant inability of the Republican Party to look forward (oops, I don’t mean that in the Democrats’ progressive way) and instead always looking back, at the same people to do the same things from inside the beltway.

If Silicon Valley can detect the inappropriateness of a Karl-Rove-driven project, why can’t the GOP see that itself?

Breitbart provides the answer:

After its stunning loss in 2012, the RNC embarked on a well-deserved “autopsy” to identify what went wrong. Many of the necessary changes identified were well thought out and important. Executing the changes through the same failed actors who brought failure, however, is not a recipe for success.

I’m frankly tired of how we need to reach out to different constituencies based solely on identity politics.  How about instead we reach out to conservatives, libertarians and moderates who are willing to join with Republicans to change the party, both in terms of leadership and in how we do business?

Or are we more comfortable returning to that 40 year wilderness we experienced from 1952 until 1994?

Someone please lead us out of the beckoning wilderness.  Karl, it isn’t you.

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