Four months after the 2012 presidential debacle enough articles have been written about Obama’s data-analytics driven win to make it clear to those paying attention that the GOP needs to radically alter course.  In the leap frog competition on political technology, the GOP has often been ahead.  Now more than ever it is time to catch up.

Ronald Reagan used crude data mining and direct mail to get elected governor, perfecting the techniques in his presidential bids with the help of Richard Viguerie.  Karl Rove—a competitor of Viguerie —used even more sophisticated direct mail and got George W. Bush elected governor and president.

But according to many articles, Obama bet heavily on a profoundly deeper level of data-analytics, in effect putting the entire 2012 campaign in the hands of a young geek squad.  The now famous “Cave” and “Alley”—windowless offices below the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago—  housed over 50 young mathematicians and data nerds.  Their leader, Daniel Wagner told the LA Times:

“We’re kind of a weird bunch of kids… I haven’t seen the sun in a while. We worked brutally inhuman hours this cycle. Twenty-hour days, often. But they [Obama’s senior campaign managers] bet a lot on us being right. And it was good to be right.”

According to the LA Times, the Rovian model is dead.  Rove— brilliant in his day— is the last of the dinosaurs, only the GOP hasn’t yet fully comprehended this.

The data-analytics of the Rovian School of consultori gigantasaurus was crude compared to what the feral mammal Dems came up with in 2012.  The Giant Consultants brilliance was to use limited data to make intuitive leaps.  Their predictions sometimes worked, but often didn’t.  The LA Times says:

“… on Fox News, Rove was sputtering and fuming, insisting that the result in Ohio could not be true… [While Dick] Morris was flabbergasted that voting patterns had not returned to the norm of 2004, the young math nerds in Chicago were watching state after state fall exactly as they had predicted.”

The Obama geeks used data mining, analytics and modeling to create predictive algorithms so sophisticated they could pinpoint individual voters.  Politics may never be the same as a result.

So what does this mean for California Republicans?

First, the 2016 presidential elections may well be a replay of the 2012 disaster.  The Giant Consultants show no signs of becoming extinct soon.  Pat Caddell’s blast against them at CPAC and Katy Grimes volley on FlashReport notwithstanding, the GOP is a conservative party, resistant to change.

Second, new self-funded candidates for CA state wide offices may lead to another round of the E-Meg idiocy with expensive consultants fleecing ego-tripping high-net-worth candidates and further damaging the party.

Third, despite the Rovians, national data-analytics efforts are likely in high gear.  There is little doubt that Resurgent Republic, Target Point and others are working feverishly on private white papers and proposals to major national donors.  The GOP consultant class knows that the first team to the market will win big.

But I would argue that there is another, distributed or “open source” model of data-analytics that should be funded by California Republicans and that we are uniquely situated in Northern California to lead on this.

The SF Bay Area is the home not just of Google, Facebook, Oracle, Salesforce and other major corporations, we’re also the headquarters or birthplace of Craigslist, Mozilla-Firefox, Wikipedia, Unix-Linux and others.

With modest funding, state-wide buy-in and a smart plan the CA GOP can be part of the national effort to leap frog the Dems with an “open source” type project.

The leap would be technical, but political as well.  On the technical side, SF Bay Area conservative geeks can rapidly reverse engineer the Obama squad’s work and catch up.  We should be the home of the new GOP Data-Analytics Institute proposed by the RNCs Growth Opportunity Report.

But that will just bring us even.

We need to roar past the Dems by distributing the new technology to the base of the party where it will do the most good.  This will require breaking out of the Rovian Era and into Mammalian Era.  This is also the strong recommendation of the new RNC Report and will be the subject of Part Two of this article.

I believe distribution is critical; and it’s what the Democrats will likely do.  With technical expertise that blew Team Romney out of the water, Team Obama may already be working out the details for distributing their new data-analytics paradigm down ticket, especially in races where they hope to pick off GOP targets they consider low hanging fruit.  For instance, in California.

This is a serious and even existential challenge.  We’d better get moving.