Never have the words “victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan” been more true than how the National Republican Congressional Committee has interacted with David Jolly’s victory in the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
When it appeared Jolly was headed for a defeat at the hands of Alex Sink, NRCC staffers could not leak fast enough to POLITICO about the “keystone cops” operation. On the Friday before the election, Alex Isenstadt wrote:
“Over the past week, a half-dozen Washington Republicans have described Jolly’s campaign against Democrat Alex Sink as a Keystone Cops operation, marked by inept fundraising, top advisers stationed hundreds of miles away from the district in the state capital and the poor optics of a just-divorced, 41-year-old candidate accompanied on the campaign trail by a girlfriend 14 years his junior. The sources would speak only on condition of anonymity.”
Those anonymous staffers included a couple of flaks in the NRCC, which appeared to be ready to distance itself from Jolly’s campaign in the event he lost. But now that Jolly has won, the NRCC is angling for credit for the victory.
According to a story today in the National Journal:
“To hear Republican strategists involved with David Jolly’s campaign tell it, the newest Republican in Congress owes his victory to a ‘Honeybadger.’ That’s what officials at National Republican Congressional Committee call the voter database they’ve spent a year tirelessly building from scratch, a system they argue was essential to Jolly’s surprising win in last week’s special election in Florida.”
“Led by Honeybadger, a continually updating system that integrates real-time data with existing voter files, they say they were able to track voters they had to target, discover what messages would motivate them to go to the polls, and project exactly how much ground Jolly had to recover when early absentee voting didn’t swing his way.”
I saw some of the data I believe originated from Honeybadger and it was, in fact, brutally efficient. But that is beside my point, which is that the NRCC can’t have it both ways: Either Jolly’s campaign was a “keystone cops” operation (clearly it was not) or it was the first example of the GOP catching-up to the Democrats in terms of being able to take advantage of ‘Big Data.’
Whichever it is, David Jolly’s campaign cannot have one thousand fathers after the NRCC attempted to orphan it.