RNC now focusing on year-round ground game rather than TV ads

The Republican National Committee says it is changing its entire approach to campaigns, electing to focus on building the party's grass roots on a constant basis rather than stockpiling money for TV ads in the months before an election.

"Things have changed. That strategy is both outdated and ineffective," RNC spokesman Sean Spicer says in a memo released to the media and posted to the RNC's Web site. "That’s why Chairman [Reince] Priebus has changed the role of the RNC. The lesson from 2012 is we must have a permanent ground game. We must engage with voters year-round in their communities, especially in Hispanic, African American and Asian Pacific communities."

Spicer added: "So, while in the past, we may have measured the RNC’s success by the amount of cash we had piled up three months before Election Day, that will no longer be the case. We’re investing that money now and will continue to do so."

The Democratic National Committee has already opted for a similar strategy, though given it is much less well-funded than the RNC, large-scale ad campaigns would be difficult to do even if the DNC wanted to.

The RNC, too, has found itself less well-funded in the advertising game than emerging super PACs, which are not subject to the same contribution limits as national party committees.

The RNC spent about $42 million on ads in the 2012 presidential election -- an amount that was less than half of two GOP super PACs, American Crossroads and Restore Our Future.

Here's Spicer's full memo:

MEMORANDUM

FROM: RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer
TO: RNC Surrogates and Allies
RE: Follow the Money – RNC Investing

As we draw closer to 2014, I want to update you on the new approach the RNC is taking toward investing our resources.

In the past, the committee would spend an off year accumulating cash and then, during the election year, we would continue stockpiling cash until the last 90 days. The thinking was that the way to win was to drop all that money on TV ads and get-out-the-vote operations in the final days before the election.

Things have changed. That strategy is both outdated and ineffective. That’s why Chairman Priebus has changed the role of the RNC. The lesson from 2012 is we must have a permanent ground game. We must engage with voters year-round in their communities, especially in Hispanic, African American and Asian Pacific communities.

So, while in the past, we may have measured the RNC’s success by the amount of cash we had piled up three months before Election Day, that will no longer be the case. We’re investing that money now and will continue to do so.

We’re investing in people. By this past summer, we already had more people in the field than in headquarters. Today, we have hundreds of people already hired across the country, working alongside state parties to build a bottom-up boots on the ground operation. These individuals will work block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood to identify new voters and build relationships. They are the eyes and ears on the ground.

We’re also investing in technology. We’re building data and digital operations to help candidates, state parties and Republican organizations share information and work toward our shared goals. Under the guidance of Chief Technology Officer Andy Barkett and Chief Digital Officer Chuck DeFeo, we intend to leapfrog the Democrats in our technological capabilities. As Andy likes to say, it’s as though the RNC is launching a start-up company.

This work isn’t about one candidate or one campaign or one election year. Thus far in 2013, we’ve made investments in states all across the country, with an obvious emphasis on New Jersey and Virginia. But these efforts aren’t just about 2013 or even 2014. It’s about building a lasting foundation. We’re working to help all our candidates at all levels, so that they have access to the tools to win. Ultimately candidates make the difference, but we’ll do everything we can to prepare the field for them.

That means we can’t let the money just sit in the bank. We can’t parachute in a few days before voters head to the polls. We have do the work now—and we are.

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