Inside The RNC’s Digital Operation

REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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The Republican National Committee has amassed a digital operation which they claim puts even the private sector to shame, several senior RNC officials told reporters Friday.

The three areas the officials talked reporters about regarding digital operations were Facebook, email and smartphone apps.

The officials pointed to specific days to show their success on Facebook with advertisements, August 31 and October 19. The RNC spent $1.5 million dollars on ads on 175,000 ad combinations Facebook on October 19. They raised $9 million online that day. A senior RNC official told reporters that they have had a positive return on investment on their Facebook ads all year.

Over a hundred thousand ad combinations is something the officials described as unprecedented, a size that RNC officials claim the private sector couldn’t match and certainly not Hillary Clinton’s campaign. An RNC official said that in comparison a GOP senate campaign will run about 4 different advertisement combinations.

The massive amount of ads come from a combinations of distinct copy and video and different targeting of users. The RNC uses a competitive bid structure with ad vendors which has led to once raising $500,000 in 15 minutes.

Regarding email, one senior RNC official said, “emails bring in high 50s, 60 percent, of the overall online money raised. It is still a killer app, your email inbox is a personal space you go to every day.”

The RNC made an eight-figure investment in 2015 to acquire emails. This was done according a senior RNC official, “so whoever showed up out of the primary was going to have a big email file to use to raise this money.”

As of Thursday, the RNC had sent 1.6 billion emails in 2016. Besides raising money, the email operation is useful for getting out the vote efforts. A field team member will go physically knock on doors of people who have requested absentee ballots over email.

An RNC official said registering votes in the field costs $120 and over email it is $0.60.

The RNC has also developed a backend for smartphone apps that is designed to help all GOP candidates. When a user uploads their address book onto the app, the RNC is been able to find matches of likely Republican supporters on their voter file. They have gotten 1.5 million matches so far, a number a senior official said is “rapidly rising.”

This is off a phone address book that contains maybe a complete name, and less likely an email address. “The DNC doesn’t have this capability,” a senior RNC official said. The official added that Hillary Clinton “might have this capability,” but her list isn’t able to be used by down-ballot candidates.

This app is able to be used for any Republican candidate for free this cycle, and all current GOP senate candidates are using this capability to match someone’s address book to the RNC’s voter file.