At its Restoring National Confidence Summit, the conservative organizations Turning Point USA and Turning Point Action set the groundwork for their 2024 effort.
Turning Point wants to send a message to the Republican National Committee and rank-and-file members of the party: It’s past time to modernize.
Ahead of the RNC’s January winter meeting in Las Vegas, Turning Point Action, a conservative nonprofit group, held its own Sin City event: The Restoring National Confidence Summit. It was meant to spur the Republican Party to embrace reality when it comes to winning elections.
In an interview, Andrew Kolvet, a spokesman for both Turning Point Action and its sister nonprofit organization Turning Point USA, said the Jan. 29–30 meeting brought together what he called grassroots elements of the party and showed them how elections are now won and lost.
“What we’ve seen from the RNC has not been sufficient to keep up with the new rules of engagement,” Mr. Kolvet said. “We have to get more pieces of paper in the box in a 30-day period … the way elections are run now has changed.”
Mr. Kolvet put the invite-only summit attendance at about 500. This included state and county GOP chairs and RNC members. Specifically, Turning Point targeted 100 counties it believes will be critical to the 2024 general election and was able to get representatives from three-fourths of them to attend.
In a post about the event shared by Turning Point Founder and CEO Charlie Kirk, unnamed attendees were effusive.
A spokesperson for the RNC said the committee held more than 70 training sessions in 2023, with a total attendance of more than 2,000. Those sessions covered voter communication, data utilization, digital fundraising, and political participation classes.
An agenda for the RNC summit provided to The Epoch Times said it featured panels on so-called ballot harvesting, data-oriented voter registration, turnout efforts, and reviews of past elections in the critical states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The summit also included brief speeches from former President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and former White House strategist Stephen Bannon.
Spurring the RNC
The right, Turning Point believes, needs to start viewing an election the same way left-wing organizations do. It is not a one-day contest but rather a months-long effort to get voters to show up at polling places on election day and to cast their absentee or early votes before the event.
Conservatives, Mr. Kolvet said, need to leverage data the way the Democratic Party and supporting organizations do to utilize their resources better, register voters, and get the reliable and fringe members of the Republican electorate to participate.
“What we’ve seen from the RNC has not been sufficient to keep up with the new rules of engagement,” he said.
Mr. Kolvet went on to say that Turning Point wants a robust RNC, but “that’s not what we have right now.”
“We have an organization that is struggling to raise money, that has alienated a lot of big donors as well as grassroots donors,” Mr. Kolvet said.
“They simply don’t have the resources or the wherewithal to get the job done.”
He went on to say the RNC does endorse a leadership change. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel may be stepping down soon. Mr. Kolvet said Turning Point believes Ms. McDaniel hasn’t gotten the desired results in her tenure dating back to 2017.
If Ms. McDaniel were a National Football League coach, Mr. Kolvet said, she wouldn’t keep her job after taking as many losses as Republicans have endured under her stewardship.
A spokesperson for the RNC said because Turning Point Action is a 501(c)(4), the party committee is legally barred from coordination with it. Nevertheless, the RNC encourages all Republican get-out-the-vote efforts.
That said, the spokesperson said the RNC would rather see its allies fixated on beating the Democrats instead of degrading their allies in the party ahead of the 2024 general election.
In 2024, Turning Point’s election focus will be on providing data and training and getting its own paid operatives into the field to work in three key states: Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin.
All three states, and their 34 collective votes in the Electoral College, went to President Joe Biden in 2020. President Trump carried the trio in 2016.
The group will make two major expenditures: developing a mobile application with voter data and hiring a dedicated staff of 300 by April to focus solely on getting out the Republican vote in those three states.
Turning Point will pursue those who are likely to vote Republican but are not so dedicated that they participate in every single election. Mr. Kolvet said Turning Point believes that’s a better use of time than blindly canvassing door-to-door or ensuring that the most ardent partisans will continue to vote.
Mr. Kolvet said too often, political campaigns or parties hire temporary staffers who only work for the closing weeks of a campaign. To win, he said, full-time employees need to be in the field for years ahead of a vote. Democratic operatives are already employing this strategy.
“The left has already got full-time field activists ingrained in their communities,” Mr. Kolvet said. “People have no idea how much money the left has spent on this type of effort. We are way behind.”
An RNC spokesperson said the committee has already hired staff in 15 so-called battleground states who are focused on both political races as well as overall election integrity.
This year, the spokesperson said, the RNC’s political team is working on its Bank Your Vote initiative, looking to secure absentee and early votes for Republican candidates in all federal races. Bank Your Vote is active in all 50 states, the spokesperson said.
The RNC’s Election Integrity Program, the spokesperson said, is a full-time operation building an infrastructure of tens of thousands of poll watchers and workers. Additionally, it is fighting legal battles against the Democratic Party on voting issues.
The litigation wing of that department, according to the spokesperson, is engaged in more than 70 lawsuits across the country, including defending the party’s interests in suits filed by the Biden administration’s Department of Justice in Georgia, Arizona, and Texas.
Building a War Chest
Mr. Kolvet said that to pay for its 2024 ambitions, Turning Point is trying to raise $100 million.
Turning Point estimates it will take $100 million to outfit its dedicated field team in the three critical states. With more money, he said, the group could deploy to a lesser extent in Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, too.
Fundraising for conservative groups is more challenging than for liberal ones, Mr. Kolvet said, because Democratic Party donors are planning their gifts years in advance and set money aside exclusively for political purposes.
Republican-backing donors often don’t break out their wallets until a few months before the election, when the funds cannot be as usefully employed.
“Hopefully, people will see the value of this type of activism and this type of deployment of their resources as a long-term investment,” Mr. Kolvet said. “Right now, it’s still sort of a new concept to a lot of people. And it’s like pushing a boulder up the hill because they’d rather spend money on television ads and consultants.”