During the 2016 presidential campaign, the "everybody knows" conventional wisdom in the establishment press which never went away, even as some contrary evidence appeared, was that Donald Trump's campaign, away from his rallies, was a haphazard operation which was doing very little to identify, target and persuade voters.
At the New Republic in mid-June, Jeet Heer confidently summed up the media/Democrat party line, preaching to the choir that "Donald Trump Will Be Buried in an Electoral Avalanche." A large part of his "proof"? Linking to a bogus New York Magazine analysis, he wrote: "Trump has no ground game or data analysis (and) ... he doesn’t even see the need for them." On Tuesday's Kelly File, Fox News host Megyn Kelly had on Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign's digital director, who proceeded to demonstrate how totally wrong the conventional wisdom was.
One of the arrogant assumptions underlying the "everybody knows" meme was that only people experienced in political campaigns could possibly put together an effective presidential turnout operation.
As we will see, Parscale doesn't come from that world. Instead, he has worked with the Trump organization's real estate and other operations, and gained the President-elect's trust through years of solid work and support.
Without getting into overwhelming specifics, Parscale said that the campaign's secret to success — and in outdoing Hillary Clinton's operation, which the press, doing their best to discourage Trump turnout, often insisted without basis was obviously superior — was integrating the data he had into the entire strategy mix of "TV, ground game, door knocking ... even budget." Also note that at the end of the interview, Parscale largely refuted Hillary Clinton's "it's all James Comey's fault" excuse as to why she lost (HT to a longtime friend and emailer):
Transcript (minor edits made to reflect what was actually said):
KELLY: An insider's take now, on how Mr. Trump actually won. The man behind the digital operation now credited with helping find and turn out the voters who made the difference.
Here now in a "Kelly File" exclusive, Brad Parscale, the former digital director of the Trump campaign and President of Giles-Parscale. Did I say that right?
BRAD PARSCALE, DONALD TRUMP'S DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Yes. Perfectly.
KELLY: Great to see you, Brad. This is fascinating, fascinating.
PARSCALE: Thank you.
KELLY: You are the one person who actually knows the answer to this question.
PARSCALE: Yes, the data.
KELLY: How did Trump win?
PARSCALE: Well, I think first you have to say it started with leadership, though. And that was with Jared Kushner and also Trump's genius coming down to allow us to put a data operation in place --
KELLY: Jared Kushner is married to Ivanka Trump.
PARSCALE: Jared Kushner is Ivanka Trump's husband. Jared was instrumental in being kind of an overlay in kind of bringing Trump's genius down to the all the different parts of leadership. You know, Steve Bannon was there as kind of that strategy person. But the data operation right from the middle, and I think for the first time in history, the data operation ran everything from TV buying to where we were on the ground to all of the different operations. And so, in having that data right there, we could start to see where the persuadable targets are, GOTV, everything we needed to know to win the 270 (electoral votes).
KELLY: How? How? I mean, like, when you first saw, whoa, we're in play in Michigan --
KELLY: What showed you that?
PARSCALE: Well so, I think there's a good example from both Pennsylvania and Michigan. We played in some other spots also as I started to see data and started to track it. We were making thousands of live calls, web tracking, web different surveys and pulling data that was driving it and building what's called models and universes. What we can start to see is, "we're in play in Pennsylvania and play in Michigan. Let's buy in these areas. Let's buy in these DMAs (metropolitan areas). Let's buy these voter targets." We started to see that move (in) our direction. And by the Friday before the election, I had predicted that we were going to win 305 electoral results.
KELLY: Come on!
PARSCALE: Yes. The ABEV results coming in which is Absentee Ballots and Early Voting was showing the data that where we were hitting targets and where we've wanted to see the voters turn out were showing up for us.
KELLY: Was the reaction by the others like, "Say what"?
PARSCALE: Yes. I think that there was a thing that "Stay around Brad's office, he seems really happy and giddy."
KELLY: You feel good when you leave Brad's office for some reason.
PARSCALE: Yes. So, the data is, the data doesn't lie. And that's the beauty about data. I had some great data scientists, we have teams of them putting that data in a way that could be consumed, so we could understand where we need to target people.
KELLY: But here's the interesting thing about Brad. He not some political operative. You're from country Kansas, as you put it.
PARSCALE: Born outside Topeka, Kansas.
KELLY: So what gave you the skills to, you know, get a man elected President?
PARSCALE: Well, I think some of that is just blessing. And, you know, I came out of college in the early '90s. That was a great time to exit school and get a job in the dot-com world and get educated. I had Finance and Business degree but at that point there was no one with degrees in internet marketing and I was blessed to spend that. And I spent 15 years building the company that I started with this $500.
KELLY: And Jared and Ivanka first hired you, right? Back in 2010 to help the Trump Organization.
PARSCALE: Ivanka and Eric Trump hired me for the real estate website.
PARSCALE: And once I got the real state website, then I started to work my way through the Trump.
KELLY: So how closely connected with the family have you been?
PARSCALE: I think at this point, I have a very good relationship with them. I mean, they value hard work, they value loyalty, they value success.
KELLY: Results. Right.
PARSCALE: And results. And that's what I wanted to bring.
KELLY: So, where were you on Election Night?
PARSCALE: I was in Trump Tower and eventually up in the apartment.
KELLY: In front of your computer?
PARSCALE: I was in front of my computer.
KELLY: What did you then know before others that "We got this"?
PARSCALE: Friday, I was 95 percent sure and by Sunday, I was about even more. And my Tuesday morning, I got more nervous Tuesday morning because I knew so much, I just had to wait.
KELLY: Did you know about Wisconsin?
PARSCALE: My one flip mistake was Wisconsin and Colorado.
PARSCALE: That's my 305 to 306. However as you can see our media buys from where we bought them in Pennsylvania and a different ways we're doing, we had a very good strategy with the data.
KELLY: Well, why do you think -- do you know why she lost and he won? I mean, other than strategy, do you know what it was that turned it or -?
PARSCALE: Well, I think that, you know, that's a good -- Steve Bannon for a strategy question as well but I think change. I mean, I think --
KELLY: But was there an event like the Comey announcement or the changed the number --
PARSCALE: Well, what's funny about that announcement was, in the polling numbers, I was actually flying with Mr. Trump that night. I showed him polling numbers before that announcement that showed we were already coming. Those undecideds were moving our way.
PARSCALE: People in this country were ready for change, they are ready for something new. They were already moving that way.
PARSCALE: And I think those have been continued to have an ebb and flow --
KELLY: What about the "Access Hollywood" tape? Did they move the other way? Was there --
PARSCALE: Well, I think here's the thing. All campaigns have ebb and flows along the way, right? Ups and downs. I mean, the progress that reassess your data, remove and build new universes that, now we have new targets. So, you move, you're in the bag, you move the people in and out.
KELLY: This is incredible. So now what are they going to do with you? Right? Because is it true that you worked for Ted Cruz for a little while?
PARSCALE: No, I did not work for Ted Cruz.
KELLY: Okay. So now what --
PARSCALE: This is my first ever campaign.
KELLY: What does President-Elect Trump do with you?
PARSCALE: Well, I think that that's a President-Elect Trump question.
KELLY: Do you want to work for the administration?
PARSCALE: No. I never was a politico. You know, that wasn't my goal. My goal is to be a megaphone for people, for businesses, for candidates, for who that is.
KELLY: I mean, but you're a Republican. You want to work for a Republican.
PARSCALE: I'm a Republican.
KELLY: They're writing your name down in every Republican county in America right now.
PARSCALE: And I think that science that was missed in the previous campaigns was to take the digital, and mix TV, ground game, door knocking, all of those people, even budget. So Jared and I oversaw where the budget choices were based off of data.
KELLY: You shouldn't give all of this away. You should hold some of this inside so you can make more money doing it for others.
PARSCALE: Well, let's just say, just saying it isn't as easy as doing it.
KELLY: All right. Makes sense.
PARSCALE: But sometimes, you have to say it, so people will know that you can do it.
KELLY: Fascinating. Brad, thank you so much.
PARSCALE: Congratulations on your book. Had to throw that in.
KELLY: Thank you very much. Congratulations on your win.
PARSCALE: Thank you very much.
KELLY: Wow. Amazingly done. Right?
Parscale answered my concern that he might be relying on data without questioning it. When he says that "the data doesn't lie," he's only referring to data his "data scientists" had scoured, analyzed, cleaned up and organized.
Since Kelly is claiming that her interview was exclusive, it appears that she was the first person interested, a week after the election, in talking to the guy who played a huge role in making the Trump campaign's groundbreaking backroom voter-turnout operations efficient and effective.
Perhaps he's not interested in more interviews, but I suspect that reporters at the establishment press's cable and broadcast networks would rather not talk to Brad Parscale, because to do so would effectively expose two facts which are extraordinarily painful to Democrats and the left:
- That Donald Trump, the supposedly "ignorant buffoon" and "outright moron," along with key family members, knew what they needed to do win, and knew how to find and utilize the people who could make it happen. Parscale appears to be Exhibit A for the nuts and bolts of the operation. Trump also shuffled his campaign team when he saw the need. Kellyanne Conway, the first woman to ever direct a successful presidential campaign — establishment press journalists would rather die than admit that in writing — is Exhibit A for that aspect of Trump's hands-on management.
- That Trump's campaign outworked and outsmarted Hillary Clinton's turnout operation. Even when they were worried about Mrs. Clinton's operation compared to the ones in place during Barack Obama's two presidential campaigns, the media just "knew" that Mrs. Clinton's was "better" than Trump's (just like they "knew," as seen at the link, that Trump was "cratering" in mid-October).
The aforementioned Jeet Heer at the New Republic also wrote in June that "the sheer shambles of Trump’s campaign is difficult to overstate, and stands in sharp relief to the professionalism of the Clinton team." Readers can be forgiven for laughing uproariously at the absurdity and ignorance behind that sentence.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.