December 13th, 2008
07:43 AM ET
14 years ago

GOP warned to embrace technology or face 'suicide'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Ken Blackwell and other candidates for the GOP chairmanship have used Facebook to reach supporters."] (CNN) - When Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis decided to throw his hat in the ring to head the Republican Party, he announced his intentions on an unlikely forum: Twitter.

Not too long ago, the social networking Web site most popular among teenagers and 20-somethings was probably the last place you would expect to find a candidate for the Republican National Committee chairmanship.

But then Barack Obama's presidential campaign appeared to revolutionize the way technology could be integrated into every facet of a campaign - from fundraising to media outreach to voter mobilization.

The result was a Democratic Party that outpaced its rival in nearly every measure - in the process revealing how detrimental the GOP's apparent lack of tech fluency proved to be on Election Day.

The Republican Party is playing catch-up, hoping to compete with Democrats in the next two pivotal election cycles.

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soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Robert (Plano, TX)

    GOP problems are more fundamental. They are not a big tent party. They want to limit immigration which indirectly affect minorities. They want to limit civil liberties about gay marriage but do not mind rendition and torture. They believe that small town values are what America needs when most of do not live in small towns. They also don't want to contribute to paying the bills to keep their neighborhoods clean and help give others a chance at the American dream. No, technologies would be the least of their concerns. Nominate Palin and you will doom the party for a generation.

    December 12, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  2. Al

    It's not just technology, but being in touch with all the people, and understanding what the average person goes through and to remember that there needs to be a separation of church and state.

    December 12, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  3. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    My GOP parents still use 8-Track tape-and they still listen to Hank Williams Jr.

    They don't own a computer. Too high tech.

    But they sure like Palin! She's a breath of fresh air!

    December 12, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  4. Sam in Vegas

    I'm a registered Republican. I voted for Ron Paul here in the Nevada caucus. As a registered republican I received TWO emails from the party during election season. In contrast, I received over twenty emails and what must have been ten phone calls from Obama's party. There was no comparison. It was not just the familiarity of technology but also the aggressiveness. GOP needs more than these gimmicks. They need to formally split into Republicans the fiscal conservatives and Republicans the social conservatives. It wouldn't fracture the party. Rather, it would draw people like me away from voting Democratic.

    December 12, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  5. alvino

    It has to be tough to be a Republican. Your war against the American worker is going to move us closer to a depression and will cost your party for a generation. Go you Hooverites!

    December 12, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  6. Techn0 Hippi3

    Gee, first they will need to get to get sum puter training down in them southern states, then some IP connectivity in them rural parts. I forgot, AT&T is laying off 25,000 so forget any upgrades to the infrastructure.

    December 12, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  7. Milhouse van Houten

    Opt for the latter and save the rest of us the grief.

    December 12, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. ej

    Being Republican used to mean running things like a business. It didn't mean running the Government into the ground, for the sake of business. It didn't mean gutting government programs, then pointing your finger at them and saying "See! They don't work!"
    It meant that if you had a political job, you did your best to run that job as if you would a business. It meant that integrity meant more to you than sacrificing Americans, for the sake of keeping that job.
    As a former Republican, it's my personal opinion that the Republican party should be let go. Those in power have no understanding about what it is to be an American anymore, or the dishonor that party is responsible for. I'm past caring what happens to them.

    December 12, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  9. EDingle

    Don't forget that online organizing didn't begin with the campaigns, not even for Obama. Joe Anthony's unofficial Obama Myspace profile was over 160,000 friends before the campaign started their own, 'One Million Strong for Obama' existed on Facebook long before the campaign started, Hillary Clinton's unofficial myspace profile was the second biggest, and there were several online communities around for other candidates before the campaigns even got involved.

    If I were a republican, I'd be talking to these people and forming alliances. Or you can do what the Obama campaign did, and just take it over by force. It might not have been pretty, but it worked :).

    December 12, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  10. Jim in Bisbee

    I hope the GOP looks back at what worked for them in years past and marches headlong back to pen and paper. Leave the Blackberries for the liberal leftist east coast elite. Eschew computers and all those new-fangled "digital" doohickies.

    The only digital things the GOP needs are the 10 God gave them, but they've got to stop relying on the middle ones – it looks kind of tacky giving welfare families rude gestures.

    Technology – Fiddlesticks!

    December 12, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  11. rich

    I will NEVER forget Blackwell from 2004. He can talk to the hand.

    December 12, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  12. Charles from Atlanta

    Technology can help, but the quality of candidate is more important than technolpgy. GOP lost the election because the election was all about Obama, you either vote for him or vote against him. In another word, Obama is simply better than McCain. And the worst is, GOP relies on labeling their opponents as the message and never give out too much detail, but with the convenience of Internet, votes can find all kind of information, and demands to know more detail. Just calling your opponents libral, socialism, increasing your tax, .., simply won't work anymore.

    December 12, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  13. Kyle

    Hey, you know what GOP presidential candidate harnessed the internet before anyone else? That's right. Ron Paul. It's time for the GOP to embrace his presence and welcome his supporters because with all of the youth involved in his campaign, it's the future of the GOP.

    December 12, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  14. Jim in Asheville

    I remember several years ago when the pundits and many others were talking about the end of the Democratic Party. The Reagan Revolution was in full swing. Liberalism was dead and the party was on its way to extinction. Now it's 2008 and we hear the same thing about the Republicans. Both parties will wax and wane as political fortunes change. Democrats, just like the GOP before them, will soon think it is their birthright to govern. Cronyism and corruption will build, the people will finally have had enough, and we will see a new mandate from the voters. I suppose the only new twist to this latest cycle is the amount of name-calling and lack of civility (particularly from the Left). Democrats, enjoy your ride. It's good for eight years or so. Republicans, it's time to ditch the neocons and rebuild the party into a true opposition party (low taxes, strong defense, personal liberty, etc.). 2016 should be interesting.

    December 12, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  15. Mike

    Technology is about tactics. First they need to get their principles and their message right. Good use of technology by itself will simply permit the GOP to get its vacuous, divisive message out to be seen and rejected more efficiently.

    December 12, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  16. Scotty

    John writes:
    All that technology available for both parties and still nobody can provide any real evidence that Obama is a "natural born citizen". How can someone who breaks the rule of the constitution to become president be considered honest or even partially worthwhile?

    to John: Give it a rest. He was born in Hawaii, certified birth certificate proves it. State of hawaii has confirmed it. I was born in Providence RI and only have a certified copy, the orignal was lost long time ago like many in this country. He's a natural born citizen, same as you. Now go bark up another tree!

    December 12, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  17. Union Busters

    After what I have seen (and am still seeing) it will be a cold day in he77 before I ever vote for another Republican.

    December 12, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    The McCain advisers probably caused that lapse, because Sen. McCain's wounds from torture and abuse when interrogated as a POW prevent his use of a keyboard.

    December 12, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  19. Harris

    The McCain workers probably caused that lapse in communication. As we all know, Sen. McCain's permanent injuries from his POW torture and interrogation left him unable to use a keyboard.

    December 12, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  20. maurice

    i voted republican and guess what i can dismantle a computer reformat 1. build 1 from the ground up program multiple electronics i have. text message email and send pics from my phone. ive been known to even write a few programs. so if technology played a part in the election then i was asleep at the wheel. 8 years of george bush a failing economy thanks to bill clinton years and barney franks for the housing disaster. so the election was won by obama who promised things he cant completely drliver on. oh ya the earth is older than 6000 years and it took 6 days to create. and if you need that science lesson read the bible. oh wait it doesnt come with windows xp or vista.

    December 12, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  21. Vladimir

    It is more than technology that capsized the GOP. We are truly a multiethnic society in which Palin and the GOP do not want to recognize. The polarizing "good old boys club" is out the door.

    December 13, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Mike, Phoenix AZ

    I'm doing my part to piss off the religious right and moral majority. For a group of people who claim to be morally superior, they sure act like thieves, liars and hypocrites. Technology will just be another way to push out their lies and manipulate the American people.

    December 13, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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