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A document written by UW's Collegiate Republicans noted that Democrats were better organized and resourced, especially from a technological standpoint. The Democrats provided UW students with a hotel room equipped with high tech phones, a set-up that completely outmatched the Republican phone-calling capacity.
A source familiar with the GOP's national campaign organization told Crosscut that there is a group of underlings in national headquarters who are interested in technology but that the party's leadership doesn’t really get it.
“They know they need to infuse technology into campaigns,” says the source, “but they are not yet in positions of authority to really make the budget shifts.”
The former Republican operative added that “campaign cycles and tech cycles always overlap so we can’t afford to go into lulls in between elections. This is the timeframe where we should be doubling down on technology (for the next cycle).”
“How can you win elections if you are not providing volunteers with the right tools?” asked one UW student, giving voice to a common complaint among young Republicans.
GOP strategist and McKenna for Governor campaign director Randy Pepple feels their pain. After all, it doesn’t seem like that many years ago when he was one of them.
“What attracted me (to the party) was foreign policy,” said Pepple. “I was an anti-Communist. I was more focused on the foreign policy journals.”
Throughout the campaign, Pepple worked closely with young interns and volunteers. “There is a conservation ethic, more moderate and more libertarian,” he said. “They see the importance of trade, higher education and economic development. Education is an area where we can make headway.”
He agrees that “you don’t admit your Republican in certain circles and we need to change that. We need to spend more time asking what does it mean to be a Northwest Republican. We couldn’t overcome the negativity of the national brand.”
As young Republicans return to college campuses and to entry-level jobs, the sting of losing has abated and there is a sense of optimism. Ah, youth.
Kyle Curtis said that the UW College Republican online listerv and Facebook friends are growing. Meetings are becoming larger and more lively, recruitment strategies more refined.
The final line of the College Republican brainstorm is a message, in ALL CAPS, that reads like a scream to party elders: “REACH OUT TO THE YOUTH.”
If GOP leaders are smart, they'll listen.
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