GOP Ground Game: You Can’t Reap What You Don’t Sow

Andy Peth over at The Party of Choice blog has a timely and highly thought-provoking article which takes issue with the “ground game fever” that’s being pushed by some Colorado Republicans:

Despite all this, “Ground Game” preachers now tell right-wing groups all we need to do is harvest the way Democrats do, and we’ll have the same results! Worse yet, these “Ground Game” preachers are blaming their way to power in the Colorado Republican Party. How? Simple: They detail all the effective ground game operations of Democrat groups, without mentioning the population shifts and Big 3 rage preparations making those ground games effective.

They talk all harvest, and no preparing of the fields for harvest.

“We didn’t lose because of demographic shifts or messaging or Trump or anything else!” they insist. “We lost because we got outworked! We lost solely because Democrats used the better ground game! If we just harvest like they do—aggressively connecting with new voters and targeting each voter’s data points—we’ll get the same results! And our leaders are to blame for not doing this!”

Ridiculous. Embarrassing. While I heartily agree with their ground game strategies, their utter neglect of context will bring terrible results.

Folks, if we want to win back Colorado, we must prepare the field before harvesting it. We must completely change our message and approach to one resonating with today’s voters. We must break through the Big 3’s dominance, using clear, impactful messaging that shows voters we’re the good guys and Democrats are the bad guys—and we must do it while lowering the very rage Democrats use to recruit.

Can this be done? You bet! But it won’t happen with enraged “Ground Game” preachers blaming their way to power with promises of harvesting fields we’ve never prepared. We need to change the way Coloradoans see Conservatives and Republicans, and we can’t do this with rage and division in our own ranks. Those things only feed the other side.

One more time: WE MUST PREPARE THE FIELD BEFORE HARVESTING IT. And while I think the “Ground Game” preachers have some great ideas on how to harvest, they offer nothing to prepare that harvest. Nothing but blame. Nothing but rage. Nothing opening the mind of that young person or minority voter or single woman or suburban female executive. Nothing at all.

Just numbers and stats, with no context and lots of anger.

Truth is, these Ground Game preachers aren’t changing the face of our Party. They’re just shoving it in more faces of voters we haven’t prepared. Folks, the greatest irony of Ground Game Fever…

…is that it never prepares the ground.

I’ve been doing political work, including phone banks & door-to-door canvassing, for well over 15 years now and I wholeheartedly agree with Peth’s assessment here.

To continue his metaphor, the ridiculous claims that the tree is ripe with voters who agree and that the tree just needs a good shake is naive at best, and absolutely dangerous at worst. If voters are not properly identified, we could end up working to turn out votes for the opposition. Likewise, if the tree is not properly watered with pro-liberty messages, it’s going to bear a terrible fruit.

That’s a tree not worth shaking at all.

Let’s go back to our principled message that welcomes all Americans who wish to see prosperity through strong private property rights, individual freedom of expression, a free market which works by rewarding hard work & perseverance. 

That voter tree bears good fruit and is worth shaking.