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Clueless Republican Establishment:

Is it possible for the Republican Party establishment to be more clueless than this?

The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors' rebellion over President Bush's immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, The Washington Times has learned.

Faced with an estimated 40 percent falloff in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, fired staff members told The Times.

Several of the solicitors fired at the May 24 meeting reported declining contributions and a donor backlash against the immigration proposals now being pushed by Mr. Bush and Senate Republicans.

"Every donor in 50 states we reached has been angry, especially in the last month and a half, and for 99 percent of them immigration is the No. 1 issue," said a fired phone bank employee who said the severance pay the RNC agreed to pay him was contingent on his not criticizing the national committee.

Talk about blaming the messenger....

For the record, I personally don't have strong views on immigration. I just find it amazing that the response to grassroots opposition is to fire the telephone solicitors!

Richard Aubrey (mail):
Strictly speaking, the response of firing the solicitors is to the lack of revenue. It does not appear that the RNC has figured out the solicitees' anger. Yet.
Morons.
6.1.2007 11:12am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

For the record, I personally don't have strong views on immigration. I just find it amazing that the response to grassroots opposition is to fire the telephone solicitors!


For the record, I just find it amazing that anyone could be so "clueless" that they would read the article and think that the firing the telephone solicitors was a "response to grassroots opposition" rather than a change in the RNC's fundraising tactics because of an "estimated 40 percent falloff in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that [] would cost too much to update."
6.1.2007 11:24am
U.Va. 2L:
I strongly feel that 99% of donors are close to 100% wrong. But regardless, this strikes me as a very odd response to the problem--can't very well blame the poor folks working the phone banks for what happens in Washington.
6.1.2007 11:24am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I'm with Thorley... I read this to mean "Well, we're not getting donations right now, so why are we paying 60+ people to keep trying?" When sales are down, expect layoffs.
6.1.2007 11:31am
Oh My Word:
Firing them appears to have nothing to do with frustration with shooting the messenger. It has to do with the apparent fact that phone solicitation has ceased to be financially worthwhile.
6.1.2007 11:37am
ZH:
We are talking about politicians here. Their actions usully make no sense. This is just another example.
6.1.2007 11:55am
Eli Rabett (www):
Obviously they are going to move to the INTERNET for fund raising. Everyone keeps careful track of the yield vs. cost on these things and tries to optimize it. The implication of this is that the Republican constituencies from which they raise money are pretty much all on the net, and the marginal cost of telephone fund raising is negative. Plus which the negatives of phone solicitation (interrupt dinner @$54#@2345) are high
6.1.2007 11:57am
Cornellian (mail):
Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff and told them they were out of work

You'd think with her acting career and killer good looks Anne Hathaway wouldn't need to moonlight at the RNC.
6.1.2007 12:04pm
Taeyoung (mail):
Firing them appears to have nothing to do with frustration with shooting the messenger. It has to do with the apparent fact that phone solicitation has ceased to be financially worthwhile.
I think the link being drawn here is that phone solicitation is down sharply because the Republican party's donor base is deeply, deeply, pissed off at their party leadership over immigration. The phone system may be old and expensive, but it would still be turning them a profit if it weren't for the fact that the people they typically reach that way -- small donors -- are mad at the President.

A decline in overall donor willingness is denied by the RNC's spokesperson Tracey Schmitt, so it is possible that rich businessmen as eager for more immigrant peons as the Republican grassroots are angry are making up the difference. But the breakdown in small-donor willingness is confirmed by the NRSC later in the article.
6.1.2007 12:05pm
Steve:
I'm with Thorley... I read this to mean "Well, we're not getting donations right now, so why are we paying 60+ people to keep trying?" When sales are down, expect layoffs.

But the reason they're not getting donations is because they're pushing a very unpopular policy. The rational response would be to stop pissing off your donors, as opposed to saying "oh well, people have stopped giving for some reason, no choice but to ditch the solicitors."

Prof. Zywicki surely isn't arguing that the Republicans, if they had a clue, would continue employing these people even if they bring in no money. Rather, he seems to be saying that if the Republicans had a clue, they'd change their position and the donors would start giving money again, making the phone solicitors profitable once more.
6.1.2007 12:12pm
Rick Wilcox (www):
Over on Patterico's blog, I coined a new logical fallacy in response to someone whose arguments consisted of "this person disagrees with me, therefore I discard their opinion, even if they are an authority on the matter". I think it applies to the RNC at this point. I present to you: Argumentum ad LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.
6.1.2007 12:18pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
No he's clearly saying that they were fired because they were "blamed" for the lack of donations. Your interpretation is a generous attempt to "correct" the post, and if he had said that in the first place, I wouldn't have bothered with my comment.
6.1.2007 12:19pm
Steve:
I think "blaming the messenger" is a pretty well-known colloquialism.
6.1.2007 12:46pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I thought that was my point :)
6.1.2007 12:47pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
There may be some shooting of the messenger here, but it is also true that much of the Republican base is deeply pissed off. The big issue is, of course, immigration. Another is that the Republicans in Congress have reverted to their go-along, get-along attitude that they had used so effectively in the minority for 60 years.
6.1.2007 12:58pm
glangston (mail):
The donors may be "wrong" but they're not stupid enough to give money to a party they see as not representing their views. That would make them wrong AND idiotic.

I agree that old equipment and an old message just didn't make economic sense. They may need to re-group on both.
6.1.2007 1:09pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Never thought I would say this in life, but I agree with Thorley. I think the RNC just figured the cost/benefit analysis of employing those solicitors weighed in favor of ditching them.

Does anyone know of any studies or research done on the effectiveness of phone solicitation in general, particularly addressing any changes in the last ten years or so? My feeling is that phone solicitation is on the way out as a fundraising technique for a variety of reasons which should be pretty plain in the age of cellphones and the "internets."
6.1.2007 1:11pm
therut:
I remember way back a few years ago when Bush first gave a speech on immigration. Man the people at DU were of coarse very aganist his plan. They were fuming. Now they are all for it cause their "political mind benders" are. It is funny. They are sooooo predictable. They were angry now they are happy and all for mass legalization of the illegal aliens among us. And they were aganist it because they were aganist a liberal immigration policy. But ole Teddy turned them around politically speaking.
6.1.2007 1:14pm
Porkchop:

Cornellian wrote:
Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff and told them they were out of work

You'd think with her acting career and killer good looks Anne Hathaway wouldn't need to moonlight at the RNC.



I'm surprised the RNC would have her after that topless scene in Brokeback Mountain. Don't they have some kind of moral standards over there? ;-)
6.1.2007 1:19pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

Is it possible for the Republican Party establishment to be more clueless than this?


Oh, hell yes.
6.1.2007 1:29pm
Hewart:
It is funny. They are sooooo predictable.


There's a lot of that going around, it seems.
6.1.2007 1:46pm
CatoRenasci (mail):
I have been a Republican since first going door to door for Ike in 1956.

I am more depressed at the party's prospects than at any time since Barry Goldwater's crushing defeat by Lyndon Johnson.

This is worse than Watergate and Nixon's resignation.
6.1.2007 2:50pm
Rich B. (mail):

You'd think with her acting career and killer good looks Anne Hathaway wouldn't need to moonlight at the RNC.


Well, she has probably blown through Shakespeare's pension by now, so the extra cash couldn't hurt.
6.1.2007 3:11pm
Gary McGath (www):
I approve on general principles of firing telephone solicitors.
6.1.2007 3:52pm
Anon1ms (mail):
"You'd think with her acting career and killer good looks Anne Hathaway wouldn't need to moonlight at the RNC."

I thought she had previously been Mr. Drysdale's secretary.
6.1.2007 4:14pm
mariner (mail):
There's another way to interpret this development.

Republican leaders have decided that they have enough support from big-money donors and the business community that they don't need small donors anymore.

This would explain both the party leaders' stance on immigration and the layoff of the phone solicitors.
6.1.2007 5:21pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
mariner.

Good point, although it has been the dems recently who had the billionaires locked up.
Still, money or not, a vote is a vote. The repubs' putative big business money may not be able to buy them past pissed-off voters, or, for that matter, voters who decide to stay home. Most pissed-off republican voters have social and moral standards which would prohibit voting dem. Not voting at all is sort of voting dem, but passively rather than actively, which is less uncomfortable.
6.1.2007 6:17pm
markg8 (mail):
They're outsourcing the calls like they did the phonejamming scam in NH or they're robocalling them. Those rc machines used last year to harass indy voters all over the country into thinking Dem candidates were flooding them are sitting idle and that scam will be outlawed by next year.

You don't really think the RNC is just folding it's fundraising tent do you?
6.1.2007 6:44pm
Porkchop:

Anon1ms wrote:

"You'd think with her acting career and killer good looks Anne Hathaway wouldn't need to moonlight at the RNC."

I thought she had previously been Mr. Drysdale's secretary.



No, that was JANE Hathaway. And she looked much older different than Anne. She looked better standing next to Granny than standing next to Ellie Mae, though.
6.1.2007 7:05pm
glangston (mail):
Is it possible for the Republican Party to be more clueless?



The competition is hardly insurmountable.

Jobs for Tommorrow
6.1.2007 8:50pm
ALB (mail):
My boyfriend used to work there. If he's anywhere near as bad a telemarketer as I was when I worked for a theater as one, he made more money off of them than they made from his work.

Admittedly, I figured the chance of actually making any sales (and thus the commissions to be added to my paycheck) were so low, that I quickly switched to saying, if a female voice answered, "Hello... may I speak with Adam, please" in my sultriest voice. I got a lot of huffy No!s followed by a quick hang-up. (Girl's gotta do something to keep from dying of boredom).

Mind you, most of these people I was calling were AARP age or older.

Married men sometimes seem shockingly offended when I say this.
6.1.2007 8:52pm
ALB (mail):
At least, I'm pretty sure he did. And I know that where ever it was he worked as a telemarketer, he didn't engage in the same tricks as I did.
6.1.2007 8:57pm
Gordo:
Given a last name of "Zywicki", I would think that you should have strong pro-immigration views, since the know-nothing frenzy inundating the Republican base, if replicated a century ago, would have meant that your ancestors would have probably ended up killed in a German blitzkrieg instead of emigrating to America.
6.2.2007 3:54am
glangston (mail):
I think the actual item we're talking about is "illegal" immigration in relation to this reluctance of donors. I think one can be strongly pro-immigration and yet believe in the rule of law.
6.2.2007 11:37am
Maureen001 (mail):
glangston: Good comment

I too agree with Thorley Winston. Telephone solicitation should become a thing of the past. People are far too leery of identity theft these days to give their credit card information out over the phone. They're beyond annoyed with solitication calls, whether from the RNC or from the SPCA. And the Repub base is p*ssed off.

Put it all together, and the ROI just isn't there.
6.2.2007 8:45pm
Hans Gruber:
Gordo,

Maybe I'm a Yahoo Know Nothing Nativist but I prefer cold rationalism to emotional Ellis Island mythology. I don't want Zywicki to get all teary-eyed about immigration, I want him and every other American to coldly evaluate what is in our national interest. And what is best is most certainly not massive unskilled immigration, legal or illegal.

Also, you're little jab at Zywicki conflates refugee and economic immigration. Genuine asylum seekers may indeed deserve special consideration, but today's situation is one of economic immigration. If we're supposed to feel sorry enough for Mexican immigrants that we just let them all come over, well, then what about the REALLY poor countries (globally speaking, Mexico is relatively affluent!)?

Gordo, like it or not, it's a different situation today. Different immigrants coming from different cultures for different reasons. The nonsense that Mexicans are the new Italians is contradicted by the history of Mexican immigration to present. Multiculturalism and identity politics makes meaningful assimilation exceedingly difficult. Oh and let's not forget entitlements. Cradle to crave entitlements for our new (imported) underclass. This "cheap" labor isn't going to be so cheap when the final cost is tallied.
6.5.2007 5:14pm