Assigned Reading: GOP Making Gains in New Media Outreach
(FROM: The Hill)
“It’s a recognition that in ’08, President Obama was very successful in using new media, and that this is how people communicate today,” McMorris Rodgers told The Hill. She vows to get Republicans more comfortable using new-media tools.
“This is how people across the country get their information. As House Republicans, we need to be utilizing these tools too,” she said.
The deal McMorris Rodgers signed will allow constituents to text their members at a short code — a six-number combination reserved specifically for the House Republican Conference and its members, in this case 467469, spelling “GOPGOV.”
Each member will have a keyword to use, so that a constituent in McMorris Rodgers’s district will be recognized as distinct from a constituent in Boehner’s district. Members can then use the numbers they collect to blast information about an impending vote, an upcoming town hall meeting or anything else they want to share.
The conference’s goal is “to get our members just reaching more people via texting. It’s creating a following of people and making them aware of our positions, our solutions, and then also seeking their input,” McMorris Rodgers said.
Fantastic. I’ve mentioned before my own personal example of the technological divide between the parties, specifically as it related to the 2008 presidential election. It was election night, and as we were waiting for returns to come in I was fooling around with my sister-in-law’s iPhone, and came across a free application which essentially turned a person’s iPhone into an impromptu campaign office phone bank for Barack Obama.
Subscribers could download contacts, and use free–or paid–minutes on their mobile phone plans to call and generate support for then Sen. Barack Obama. It was ingenious. In years past, in order to provide a little support for a campaign, someone with the proper dedication and time would have to pack a lunch, leave the house, travel to a local campaign office, and sit in a folding metal chair for a few hours while dialing numbers all day. Those days, thanks to the gains that Barack Obama and the Democrats made, were gone.
A few minutes later, my home telephone rang. There was a delay of a second or two, and then a taped recording of Rudy Giuliani, explaining how important it was for me to get out and vote in Pennsylvania. The problem? It was 7:50 p.m., ten minutes before polls closed. Had I not voted earlier in the day, was I really going to do so at that point? The difference in outreach mechanisms between the two parties was palpable.
That’s why I’m glad to see the GOP making strides in this direction, making use of technology to get in touch with and keep voters involved. As much as I’ve always argued that the party must reach those who otherwise are not paying attention, being able to solidify support is invaluable. Reps. John Boehner and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers should be applauded.
Poll after poll has shown that America is a center-right nation. We have the numbers. The issue in years past is that right-thinking Americans haven’t had much to choose from in terms of candidates who reflect their values; instead, during the two final years of the Bush Administration, they were forced to watch as the party which supposedly spoke for them abandoned free market principles and began spending like Democrats, and in 2008 they watched the presidential candidate nominated on their behalf courted groups like La Raza and others on the center and left rather than solidifying support on the right.
This is a welcome step in the right direction.