The latest concern over Trump’s general election possibilities, as being reported at The Hill, is that the real estate tycoon doesn’t seem to show much interest in campaign data management and the high tech, nuts and bolts of running a national election effort. This would dump the task almost entirely on the RNC, begging the questions of not only their resources to accomplish the task, but their willingness.
Donald Trump’s apparent disinterest in using data and analytics in his campaign is putting pressure on the Republican National Committee (RNC), which could be forced to fill the gaps in the general election.
The RNC says it is ready for the challenge, having spent millions of dollars after Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat to build a data and digital infrastructure able to compete with Democrats.
“We’re building an operation that’s scalable and workable for all candidates,” said Katie Walsh, the RNC’s chief of staff.
But some question whether it will be possible for the RNC to completely pick up the slack if Trump decides to outsource the work of building a high-tech campaign apparatus, which performs countless tests to optimize a campaign’s resources.
Two quick observations on this question. First of all, I’m not entirely sure this is a bad thing when I think back on the 2012 race. Mitt’s operation wasn’t suffering from a “lack of interest” according to inside sources, but rather a proprietary approach where they didn’t want the RNC’s help. We all recall what happened with Project ORCA, which was later jokingly described as “a whale of an IT meltdown.” Reince and company have been investing millions in this aspect of campaign management over the last four years and building a system which should, at least in theory, work for whoever the nominee is. Perhaps this is a task best suited to people who are familiar with the process?
But even beyond that, I think part of this comes back to the idea of Letting Trump Be Trump. Those conventional rules of campaign warfare haven’t seemed to apply to The Donald and he’s done okay thus far. He also seems ill suited to that sort of granular field work. He’s the guy who breaks the rules, goes out for huge rallies, generates controversy and keeps everyone talking about him. Looking at the last head to head polls he’s at least within striking distance of Hillary already, if not leading her in some surveys. Trying to suddenly transform him into a traditional candidate using the same playbook everyone else has relied on for the past couple of decades would probably be a disaster.
If Reince Priebus thinks he’s ready to handle the national campaign data chores and build the ground game, it’s probably best to let him do it. Trump can just keep riling up the masses and making sure they are out there talking to their friends and neighbors and getting them registered and ready to vote. The old school rules were supposed to make Jeb Bush the nominee, and look how that turned out.