Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

Jolly's win proof Republicans are tackling digital challenges

President Barack Obama's campaigns set the standard for the new era of politics waged by online tools and data slicing. And it scared the heck out of Republicans.

But the GOP is playing catch up, and leaders point to David Jollys victory in Florida's 13th Congressional District as evidence.

"For us to come in when we felt a year ago we had been at a real disadvantage on the data and digital front and win this, is significant," Sally Bradshaw, a Florida operative who is part of a national effort to modernize the GOP's strategy and outreach, said Monday in a conference call with reporters.

Among the new tools deployed by the Republican National Committee was a canvassing smartphone app that provided volunteers tailored scripts based on what was already known about voters. The volunteers then used the app to send new information to a central database — the heart of the overall effort — which was shared for coordination with Jolly's campaign staff and other ground forces. The speed and efficiency were vast improvements, officials say.

Key voters were identified with a new "scoring" tool that incorporated far more data than before (how often a person votes, is he or she a donor, early voter, etc.). In turn, those voters were sent emails and other communication.

Better data also allowed the GOP to better identify and target early voters, who got notices through Facebook, email and by phone.

It's easy to overstate things about Jolly's victory. Republicans had slightly more voters on their side to begin with, as well as the relative unpopularity of Obama and his policies. Don't forget that some national Republicans thought Jolly would lose to Democrat Alex Sink — trashing Jolly's campaign at the last minute through anonymous quotes fed to Politico.

But the victory gives Republicans hope they are tackling the challenges. Coming up to speed on the digital/data side of campaigns was a major focus of the RNC's post-2012 election autopsy.

"We have a high degree of confidence in the technology," said Chuck DeFeo, the RNC's chief digital officer. "Obviously, technology matters but you've got to have the people who are doing the work and going to the doors."

Jolly announces staff

Jolly has made top staff decisions. John David "J.D." White will be chief of staff. White had been director of government affairs for WellCare Health Plans. Nick Catroppo, who managed Jolly's campaign, will serve as deputy chief of staff.

Buckhorn stays away

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a lifelong Democrat, made it clear early last fall that he was not happy with the prospect of Florida Democrats nominating Charlie Crist for governor. We figured he would have gotten used to the notion now that Crist has been in the race for several months.

We figured wrong.

In a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9, Buckhorn made clear that he's keeping his distance from Crist.

"I'm not getting involved at this point. I've got a lot in the Legislature this year that we hope to accomplish. I need friends on both sides of the aisle," Buckhorn said in the interview airing at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

But he'll ultimately endorse the Democratic nominee? "I don't know," he said.

Keep in mind that Buckhorn could be a strong Democratic contender for governor in 2018. He would have a window if Scott wins a second term, but probably not if Democratic Gov. Crist were running for re-election.

Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this week's Buzz.

Comments

Sean Hannity, a Trump defender, under scrutiny for real estate deals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)ATLANTA — On his Fox News program last summer, Sean Hannity effused praise for his guest, U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson. "I know you have done a good job," Hannity said. "You are a good man."Carson’s presence gav...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Published: 04/23/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18