by Ron Nehring
Internal elections offer the members and leaders of political parties to refresh and refine their leadership at the onset of a new election cycle. There is a reason many state parties choose their leadership soon after the general election – leaders are put in place to move the party forward in a new cycle.
As the performance of party leadership is reviewed, some commentators and self-styled analysts get it wrong — mixing up what party leaders can control and influence with what they can’t. The result can be incorrect analysis and bad recommendations.
Having served as a party chairman for more than a decade – six years as leader of the Republican Party in San Diego and four as Chairman of the state GOP – I’m acutely aware of what a chairman controls, versus the external factors beyond his control. Measuring a chairman’s success requires a careful examination of the areas a chairman controls, and comparing the party’s performance in those areas against the limits of what was otherwise possible.
First let’s review what a chairman doesn’t control. He (or she) does not pick the nominees – those are chosen by voters in primaries.
America’s political system is candidate-centric, not party centric. Commentators and journalists consistently gloss over the reality that the real decision-making power in any campaign lies with the candidates, who choose their own messages, staff, strategy, tactics and approaches to fundraising. If a candidate alienates key constituencies, fails to raise money effectively, chooses the wrong messages, or their mail lands after the polls close are all decisions made by candidates and campaigns, and it is they who need to be accountable.
And they are – when they lose, they’re out.
by Ron Nehring
Communism may have been relegated to that “ash heap of history” Ronald Reagan described in his 1982 address to the British Parliament, but a new strain of “21st century socialism” as envisioned by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is on the march in Central and South America.
Fortunately, that march came to a halt ten days ago with the election of a new conservative President of Honduras.
For years, socialists south of our border have led a drive to move Central and South America to the radical left. In 2004, Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and Cuba under Fidel Castro founded the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) as a new socialist club to serve as a counterweight to the United States in the region and strengthen socialist regimes in the member states. In the 9 years since its founding, it has grown to 9 members, all with socialist governments: Antigua/Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela. In addition, the group has three “observer” countries: Haiti, and the virulent anti-US regimes of Iran and Syria.
by Ron Nehring
Democrats have repeatedly crushed “self-funding” Republican candidates at the ballot box, making now a good time to ask why our party appears to go out of its way to run wealthy candidates who fund their own campaigns, and better understand how these candidates fare on Election Day.
It’s been said that the road to political oblivion is lined with the remains of self-funding candidates. President Steve Forbes, Governors Meg Whitman and Al Cheechi can each attest to how their wealth was insufficient to prevent Election Day wipeouts.
Why does our party seem to have such a bias in favor of rich candidates who can fund their own campaigns? I count four major factors at work.
by Ron Nehring
It turns out that not all political fundraising is the same, and the failure to understand the differences can cost a political party substantial donor support.
At last month’s International School of Fundraising in London I was asked to present on a very specific topic: what’s the difference between political party and candidate fundraising, and why does it matter? The difference is often not well understood, but the impact on the bottom line can be enormous.
Political parties and candidates are closely related – they’re both focused on elections, staff move back and forth, and there’s a level of mutual influence. But where fundraising is concerned, the similarity ends there.
Every candidate campaign is a startup: it’s formed, it wages a campaign focused on getting one person past the post on Election Day, and then it shuts down. By contrast, political parties are ongoing concerns. The party has bills to pay in December while the candidates have moved on elsewhere.
Remarks by Ron Nehring at CPAC 2013
Today our focus is how conservatives and Republicans should go about choosing the best candidates for public office in the months and years ahead.
I reject the notion that, everything else being equal, a candidate becomes more electable as they move further to the left. Rudy Giuliani and Richard Riordan were elected Republican mayors of heavily Democratic cities, defeating candidates who were more liberal and ideologically closer to their constituents.
Philosophy is very important, and for many people drawn to the conservative movement, it is the most important quality in a candidate. But philosophy is only one of several factors that contribute to a candidate’s overall strength or weakness on the battlefield. Philosophy, competency, the candidate’s personal narrative, and external political environment are all wheels that spin independently of one another, yet all directly influence the outcome.
Americans are dramatically changing the way they receive and value information, and Republican leaders need to shift their communications strategies to match or else risk having their messages heard by a diminishing number of voters.
The shift involves not only where voters are turning for news and information, but also which sources they value. Recent election results underscore the need for Republican candidates, elected officials, consultants and campaign managers to adapt. It’s a process that’s more difficult than it may appear at first glance.
Let’s have a look at the data.
Trend #1: Voters are turning away from traditional media outlets like TV and newspapers and toward Internet and social sources. This trend is reflected among all age groups, with voters under 30 leading the way. In 2001, only 18% of voters under 30 considered the Internet to be a primary news source. Now, it’s 65%. Here are the numbers from the Pew Research Center:
by Ron Nehring
In business and politics, the difference between growth and decline can often be traced to differences in culture.
Good executives understand this, which is why in highly competitive environments like Silicon Valley, CEO’s and their leadership teams expend enormous resources creating the kind of culture where people, and the company, can excel.
Politics isn’t dominated by people who have gone to the political equivalent of business school to learn the importance of a corporate culture. Campaigns and political parties are led by politicians and volunteers, creating a premium on sharing ideas and best practices among leaders. Degrees in political science and government have more to do with learning about the legislative process and federalism than building and leading successful organizations.
Ron Nehring in the Washington Examiner
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Elected officials aren’t just powerful for the offices they win. They are leaders of their own political enterprises, too. They have donors, volunteers, supporters, access to the news media and existing recognition from their previous campaigns. The existence of these enterprises helps make for high re-election rates among incumbents.
Ron Nehring in POLITICO
Each election gives us the opportunity to evaluate, learn, and make adjustments to improve our effectiveness in organization and communication next time.
Post-election analysis is a critically important phase of the election cycle. Because it is so important, post-election analysis must be objective, candid, and informed by a thorough understanding of the respective roles of candidates, political parties, pollsters, vendors, PACs, and other groups.