HALLIE JACKSON: So, ahead of this year’s midterms, pollsters have been asking voters which party they think should control Congress. And in poll after poll after poll, Democrats have come out with an advantage. You can see it right there, anywhere from five to 12 points, voters saying they want to see Democrats in charge. So what are Republicans doing? Well, they are making moves and MSNBC got an exclusive look at new ways the party is using data to target specific voters to get them out to the polls. MSNBC’s Senior National Correspondent Chris Jansing has a closer look at that. Chris, thanks for being here with all of this. What did you find out?
CHRIS JANSING: So, what they think in the Republican side is that those numbers that you just showed are starting to move and they’re starting to move for a couple of main reasons. One is the tax bill which they say is moving a lot of hesitant Republicans back into the folds, some of the more moderate people who could go either way moving back over toward the Republicans. The second part is that they believe that the Republicans are taking much of the blame for the shutdown. And so they take all of that, they put it into a very sophisticated program and they use it to target their voters and they’re out in the streets already. Take a look.
In the gambling capital of Las Vegas, Republicans say they’re leaving nothing to chance.
VOLUNTEER: We’re in the trenches and we’re making it happen
At a state GOP field office, MSNBC got an exclusive first look at a training session putting $200 million worth of research into the hands of Republican faithfuls on a quest for converts.
DAN COATS: We’re going to have an army of volunteers going out and talking to swing voters and persuading them to support the Republican ticket in 2018.
An army going into battle with more information on voters than ever before in history.
JANSING: What do you hope to accomplish today?
VOLUNTEER: Today, win hearts and minds.
Their weapon of choice doesn’t look very intimidating: smart phones. But one click of a pin dot on a map—reveals a stunningly detailed profile of the person likely to answer the door.
BRIAN PARNITZKE: It gets incredibly specific. We’ve created over a billion individual predictions.
JANSING: One billion predictions.
PARNITZKE: We can see as events happen who are the voters moving towards the Republican Party, who are the voters who are moving away, and what is causing them to shift.
A level of sophistication that they claim even the vaunted Obama machine didn’t have.
Taking data from simple voting records to a questionnaire filled out at a Right to Life March, even from stores where you shop all crunched into a complex program. Detailing not so much who you’ll vote for but why.
RICK GORKA: The kind of infrastructure we are building today is not dependent on a candidate. It’s not dependent on an organization. We really know in real time how voters are feeling towards particular issues.
The night before the training session, staff pulled an all-nighter loading new data on the government shutdown, helping craft a message for volunteers like Sherman Ray who plans to bring that message back to customers at the coffee shop he owns nearby.
SHERMAN RAY: The training is a lot about that also, about just getting involved in your community and educating people more and more on what we’re doing as a party.
Serving it up neighbor to neighbor.
JANSING: So for example, they know people are interested in the tax plan, they have their stats on that. 67 percent of Nevadans overall support the President’s tax plan, including more than 50 percent in Democrats. They load that into the system and they use that as they’re going out, not just to register people but if they go to your house as they go to that guy’s house and he said ‘I love President Trump,’ they want to get him involved. They want him going door-to-door, they want him volunteering.
JACKSON: So that’s Nevada, Kris, but what about the rest of the country? Same kind of thing for the Republican Committee?
JANSING: So National Day of Action was Saturday, that’s where we shot that. They had 106 of these going on in 22 different states. And they already did a test run of this by the way. When they were trying to get support for the tax bill, they had those same people going out. Listen to these numbers. They went out in 18 states, knocked on 364,000 doors, and made more than 145,000 calls. Now, talk to Democrats and they’ll say, ‘On that Saturday while they’re look on that weekend who was out marching for the Democrats.’ So, the question for them becomes, does that kind of Democratic enthusiasm translate into something as sophisticated and as organized as what the RNC has? Different opinions on both sides but it’s a fascinating thing to watch.