Over at Communities Digital News, I have a new piece up about Project Ivy – the Democrats’ plan to deploy the digital tools that helped President Obama in 2012 and Terry McAuliffe in 2013 into down ballot races in 2014:
The data tools used this year may not help Democrats keep their hold on the Senate, or win more Governorships, or even gain ground in state legislative chambers. But all the data collected with those tools in 2014 will be mighty useful when a few hundred votes in Cuyahoga County could decide the White House in two short years.
Republicans may not need to match Democrats data point for data point to have a pretty good election cycle in 2014. But deploying their own tools with the future in mind will help build their abilities for coming cycles.
You want more? Here it is.
Democrats know they are facing an against-the-spread election this November. They’ll lose seats, but the question is how many. Dropping as many as five Senate seats to the GOP will look like a win if they maintain a voting majority for the next term. And like a baseball team playing out the string with a 40-man roster in September, minor league talent in down-ballot races can help set the table for future victories. Project Ivy isn’t really for 2014, it’s for 2016.
But if I bled Democrat blue there would be one major factor that rubs me the wrong way about Project Ivy: the name.
First off, ivy grows up, while the project takes high-level tactics and tries to push them down. Maybe that strategy makes sense for Democrats, who put so much faith in federal government programs to cure the ills of small communities, but the metaphor is a bit off.
Second, remember Project ORCA? It was the widely panned GOTV app that Team Romney deployed in 2012, and was so named because the Obama team’s data processing system was nicknamed “Narwhal,” and orcas kill narwhals. As it turned out, the narwhal was an octopus with tentacles everywhere, and orcas don’t do crap against octopi. This metaphor is getting even more tortured, so let’s move to the point: A clever name often foreshadows failure. The only political tactical operations with cool names that work are the ones you hear about after the election.
The best news for the GOP about Project Ivy might be the fact that the first news stories about it are in March 2014, and not the week after Election Day.