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RNC to launch major digital overhaul following election inquiry

 

Republicans will embark upon a major restructuring of their digital strategy as part of the Republican National Committee's new autopsy of the 2012 elections, NBC News has learned. 

When the RNC on Monday releases the findings of its "Growth and Opportunity Project" — the report ordered by Chairman Reince Priebus on the party's losses in the 2012 campaign — it will emphasize closing the GOP's widely-reported technological gap versus Democrats.

RNC chief of staff Mike Shields, whom Priebus recently hired to help shepherd the RNC's modernization, said he is working on "fundamentally restructuring the way the RNC works so it is centered around the technology department."

Shields said that the release of the RNC's report on Monday "kicks off the 2016 election cycle," pledging an unprecedented commitment to data and technology.

Republicans have repeatedly and openly talked since the election about their data disadvantage versus the Obama campaign. The president's re-election team's sophisticated, cutting-edge digital operation has been robustly chronicled since the election, and credited with helping propel Obama to a second term. 

Shields was reluctant to divulge any specifics of the RNC's new commitment to digital efforts, but said it would be far broader than any simple social media campaign. The RNC also intends to take its new tech operation on the road, to showcase the party's new capabilities for state parties, campaigns and activists.

"By first combining digital, data and tech, you are creating synergy in all of those areas based upon what data you are creating and what it tells you about voters," he said. "But further, by putting that entire department at the center of the organization, you are making your fundraising pitches better and your voter contact much better to ultimately help you win elections."

Republicans' new emphasis was spurred, in part, by Priebus's own meetings with various factions of the party across the country since the election to hear out concerns. To that end, he recently went to Silicon Valley and met with Facebook in order to deal with a recurrent theme he was hearing — that the Republican party was not technically on par with their Democratic counterparts.  

RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski belied that holding a digital team in such high esteem was a rarity in the party, even during Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. 

"The digital campaign was not intergrated into daily decisions," said Kukowski. "But the digital department is not just in some basement anymore."