Democrats are scrambling to build a voter data infrastructure comparable to the Republican machine for 2020, but top party leaders are already sounding the alarm, admitting they “have a crisis” on their hands.
Under DNC Chair Tom Perez, Democrats have made little to no progress on organizing their data structure, which Hillary Clinton claimed was one of a number of reasons for defeat in 2016.
“I set up my campaign and we have our own data operation. I get the nomination, so I’m now the nominee of the Democratic Party,” Clinton said. “I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party.”
She elaborated that the data structure provided by the DNC “was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong,” and that she “had to inject money into it.”
A recent Politico report identifies the voter data structure remains a huge problem for the Democrat Party, with one insider calling it a major crisis.
Strategic advantage for the Republicans
Hillary’s campaign manager during the 2016 race, Robby Mook, is already concerned about the data problem for the next presidential election.
“We have a crisis,” Mook told Politico. “Republicans are going to have a major strategic advantage over us in 2020 if we don’t fix it.”
The crisis is that, under DNC Chair Tom Perez, Democrats have made absolutely no progress on revamping the data program Hillary complained about almost two years ago.
Instead, all Perez has managed to do is trigger a “fierce backlash” among state parties, which went on the record to slam Perez.
“Democrats are at war over the party’s most precious commodity — voter data — and it’s threatening their chances of beating President Donald Trump in 2020,” Alex Thompson of Politico writes.
NEW: Dems at war over their voter file ahead of 2020. An ambitious overhaul pushed by the DNC has angered state parties. “I’m not willing to give up one of our most important tools to a group of people who have never even worked on a campaign before”https://t.co/GWuzNzvlwp
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) December 6, 2018
Perez and the DNC want to pool the party’s state resources on voter data together to benefit the eventual 2020 candidate for President. But the state parties are resisting, accusing the DNC of leveraging that data to benefit only a handful of top party figures.
Trav Robertson, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, slammed Perez’s team, arguing “I’m not willing to give up one of our most important tools to a group of people who have never even worked on a campaign before.”
Others are refusing to give up their data because the DNC doesn’t benefit those who collected it.
“There’s definitely, ‘what’s in it for us?’ questions still there,” said Valdez Bravo, a vice chairman of the Oregon Democratic Party.
Republicans have a significant data advantage
While the report describes the DNC’s data proposal as being modeled on the Republican Party’s operation, the notion that they could replicate such a complex structure before 2020 seems to be far-fetched.
The RNC built their data infrastructure over several years, beginning shortly after a disastrous utilization for Mitt Romney in 2012. Additionally, it took over $200 million to build.
It’s smart of the Democrats to try replicating it now, but building a data infrastructure on this scale takes time and resources that the DNC simply doesn’t have.
Zac Moffat, Romney’s digital director, said it “is almost impossible” to think the DNC could pull it off in time and in a manner to circumvent what the RNC will unleash on them while they’re trying to coordinate state entities under one umbrella.