Since Howard Dean’s 2004 primary campaign first showed us the potential of online organizing, the political world has been taken over by technology designed to spread messages and organize supporters. This transformation has caused technology to go from a side-show within normal campaign operations to a mainstay of any operation worth its salt. The Obama reelection campaign, the gold standard of technology in politics, raised an astonishing $504 million through digitally generated donations. It also showed Republicans that our data and digital “game” needed improvement.
In 2011, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) saw a unique opportunity to secure a key tool. Without fanfare or publicity, we sought, and obtained, the new web ending .gop. By getting .gop, we not only got a desirable (short) web ending, but also one that was instantly identifiable with our Party. In doing so we became the only political party worldwide to own and run its own web ending.
The decision to create hundreds of new web endings created a land rush the likes of which the Internet has never seen. The creation of new web endings is like the opening of more beachfront property or the paving of hundreds of new Fifth Avenues. The world’s most innovative companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Nike and others have taken to this opening with considerable zeal.
These companies, like the Republican Party, see the tremendous value in owning and running their own web ending. Simplicity and organization are two major benefits – with campaigns and candidates struggling to find clear, obvious domains under .com, the opening of .gop provides space and a stamp of legitimacy. Party operations will all have a central home through the use of sites like volunteer.gop, register.gop and organize.gop. Innovators, pioneers and entrepreneurs will be drawn to this new platform to create the next generation of political sites and campaign tools.
Alongside official efforts, .gop will be dominated by grassroots conservatives and will be open to all points of view within our Party. .gop will be an open and organic space reflective of a party united in opposition to the Left’s agenda but with different ideas of our own. Grassroots activists, bloggers, interest groups and all other self-identifying Republicans will make their home on .gop. It will be the new neighborhood for Republicans online.
Other benefits include increased security from hackers, a problem major corporations and Presidential campaigns are constantly battling. Search engines are set to make the new web endings a factor in their algorithms putting those who own sites with a web ending that is relative to the search term higher in search results. iPhone users may have noticed Apple replaced the .com button with just a period, in anticipation of the new web endings.
It was all these reasons that caused the engineer of the political-technology gold standard, Jim Messina, to admit that he was “insanely pissed” that Democrats had missed this key opportunity.
The symbolic $20.16 price for general availability shows that we are focused on taking back control of our country. As such, revenue from .gop sales will be invested directly back into the election of Republicans.
In the coming months, .gop will become open to the public. People will be able to purchase their own .gop web endings in real-time through a process similar to other popular online services. All you have to do is type in your desired web ending, your credit card information and – voila! - You are a pioneer in the new age of the Internet.
The launch of .gop will not cure all of the challenges we face in improving our data and digital “game” but it will help. Our position as the only political party to own our own domain will provide us with a strategic advantage that when combined with other Party efforts on the technology front and Democrats’ disastrous policies - will lead to more voters pulling the handle for us.