Monday, December 05, 2016

How Republicans carried Florida for Trump -- Sun-Sentinel

RNC Co-Chair SHARON DAY twice says she's a "proud Floridian." As my mother would say, "how trite." She lavishes praise on gambling lobbyist SUSAN SUMMERALL WILES, who ran Trump's and Rick Scott's prejudiced campaigns.

How the RNC's ground game made Florida red again | Opinion
Sharon Day

Registration. Persuasion. Turnout. By staying true to these three tenets, the Republican National Committee kn

Florida was always going to be a hotbed for politics in 2016.

A growing and diverse population and a history of deciding the presidential election all contribute to making Florida ground zero for politicos from D.C. to Tallahassee. But 2016 also had an X factor the pundits and analysts weren't prepared for: the Republican National Committee's unprecedented ground game operation.

Although the past few presidential elections ended with a dead heat deciding the race, Donald Trump won by a significant margin of 1.3 percent. Trump over-performed Mitt Romney in 64 counties while Hillary Clinton underperformed President Obama in 40 counties. All of this would not have been made possible without the RNC and the leadership of Chairman Reince Priebus.

Trump didn't just double Romney's margin of victory in some counties. Perhaps even more importantly he was able to flip key areas — Monroe County, Jefferson County, St. Lucie County, and Pinellas County — that President Obama previously carried.

As a proud Floridian working directly with the Trump campaign, speaking at rallies all across Florida, I saw firsthand how Trump continued to enthuse and excite voters across the state while Hillary Clinton's recurring scandals and stale policies failed to inspire the voters that Obama rode to victory.

But while the messaging drove the media narrative — it's the permanent and data-driven ground game the RNC started in 2013 that pushed the path to victory for Trump, Marco Rubio and our Republican candidates statewide.

The RNC understood that a commitment to investing in strong relationships in the field year-round was necessary to make 2016 a winning year for all of our candidates. Through the RNC's planning and leadership we were able to fully fund a winning field and data operation necessary to bring out the voters we needed to win on Election Day.

It all started in 2013 when we hired a staff geared toward Governor Rick Scott's re-election in 2014 and defeating an incumbent to elect now-Mayor Lenny Curry in 2015. Each election was another opportunity to refine the ground game approach that led us to this point — a Republican in the White House and a retained majority in the House and Senate.

From one on one meetings in local coffee shops to house parties in voters' homes, or even registering voters at various community festivals and events, our volunteers and staff focused on building relationships.

Registration. Persuasion. Turnout. By staying true to these three tenets, we knew we would stay on the path to victory. While the Democrats continued to try and hide in their offices and behind their staff numbers, we knew that the relationships our team had built would be the ultimate key to Republican victories.

Our investment in voter registration led to us flipping a total of 17 counties from majority Democrat to majority Republican since 2012. On Election Day, we flipped counties that previously voted for Obama — with margins as large as 4 percent.

All of this would not have been possible without the tireless commitment of our dedicated staff and trained organizers numbering over 1,000 people. We are also deeply indebted to the thousands of volunteers that pounded the pavement, burned up the phone lines, and sacrificed their free hours every day to help our candidates.

What made our operation even more of a success was our strong partnerships with the Trump campaign's Florida team led by Susie Wiles and Deborah Cox Rousch, and the Republican Party of Florida led by Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. Without them, our great state would not have had the multiple Republican victories we had across the state.

As a proud Floridian and co-chair of the RNC, I have seen our ground game operation grow each year. There is no way we would have been as successful as we were in winning the White House, and keeping our majorities in the House and Senate, if it were not for our dedicated and passionate staff, volunteers, and party officials who have all worked hard each and every day to Make Florida Red Again.

Together we will continue to build on our efforts to ensure the Sunshine State stays red in 2018 and beyond.

Sharon Day serves as co-chair for the Republican National Committee and resides in Broward County.

Copyright © 2016, Sun Sentinel

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