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RNC strategist Sean Spicer offers election night predictions

November 8, 2016 at 6:35 PM EST
As the first polls begin to close, we get predictions from both sides of the aisle. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Sean Spicer, chief strategist for the Republican National Committee, about a last-minute advertising blitz, outreach to minority voters and what exit polling suggests.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: We have got — I’m joined now, I think, by RNC — I am joined by Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee communications director.

Thanks for joining us. You’re joining us from Trump headquarters tonight in Manhattan.

I want to ask you, has the RNC done everything that it can to put its candidate in the best position possible? Have you left everything out on the field?

SEAN SPICER, Chief Strategist, Republican National Committee: Everything is on the field tonight, Hari.

I don’t think there is a speck of dirt left on the field, but not just for the candidate, but for the Senate, for our House members, for our governors, for down-ballot, all the way down to dogcatcher.

I think we feel unbelievably proud of the ground game and the data operation that we have run. Just to put it in perspective, in 2012, we had 876 staff fanned out across the battleground states. This time, it’s 6,012. We made 11.5 door knocks in ’12. We exceeded 20 million this day, this cycle today.

And I think that’s a huge feat for the RNC and for all the volunteers and state parties that have been part of that.

HARI SREENIVASAN: You made a strategic decision after the last cycle to go after the ground game more so than television ad spending.

But a lot of Trump supporters said, you know what, you had spent so much more money supporting candidates in the past than this cycle. Just in the last week or so, you came in with about $3 million or $4 million worth of ads in a last-minute blitz. Could you have done more?

SEAN SPICER: Oh, no.

Look, first of all, that was part of the coordinated expenditure that the candidate gets. So, there’s $24 million that the candidate can coordinate with the RNC. That was part of that. That wasn’t an independent expenditure, which is what you were referring to in the past.

But you’re right. We put all of our money into the ground and to data. We spent over $175 million in data over the last four years in advance of this election. And, like I said, the numbers don’t lie; 876 staff were on the ground last cycle, 6,012 this time.

But it’s not just the number. It’s the length. We have had them out there in some cases two, three years to make relationships in communities, put voter contacts, registration. And I think it shows. Look at our absentee and early vote numbers. We have cut that deficit huge.

And I think that is what is going to propel us to victory tonight.

HARI SREENIVASAN: One of things that you also came out of the postmortem after the Romney loss last time was figuring out a way to go out and reach Latino voters.

And, as we’re hearing in the past couple of days, Latino voters might be a significant factor in this election, if the early voting results are to be believed, if that tracks out for tonight. Are you concerned that your candidate might have set you a couple of steps back?

SEAN SPICER: Well, if you look at what the exit polls are showing so far, right now, he’s on track with Romney, and we’re up a few points with African-American voters.

So, I think that bottom line is, it looks like we may have — we probably have improved with minority voters vis-a-vis the 2012 election.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Considering that the Latino voting population is going to be important in the long run for Democrats and Republicans as they become a larger proportion of this country?

SEAN SPICER: Oh, absolutely.

I think, look, I don’t think that doing good enough is OK. I think we have got to do much better. We have got to get our Latino and Hispanic vote into the high 30s, low 40s, like George W. Bush did. You’re absolutely right.

The demographic shift that is coming in this country, we have got to be ahead of the curve. And I think the Republican Party is a natural home for Hispanics. And I think that we have got to do a better job of going our to those communities, working in them.

We have made huge strides since 2012 putting staff in those communities. But we have got room to continue to improve.

HARI SREENIVASAN: I agree that there’s room to improve.

I’m just saying, how difficult is it for you when the top of the ticket speaks in a way that really turns them off?

SEAN SPICER: Well, again, I think look at the exit polls right now.

So far, we’re on par or better than we were in 2012. So, the numbers will speak for themselves after tonight.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What are your expectations tonight? You have got access to information that we certainly don’t. So, looking at the first and second and third and fourth waves of results that you might have access to, what are you expecting?

SEAN SPICER: I think North Carolina, we feel really good about.

We feel very good about Michigan. I think Colorado is a state that’s shown tremendous advance in the last couple weeks. So, there’s a lot of these states that Obama won twice, not only won twice, but I mentioned Michigan. That’s a state that hasn’t gone Republican since 1988.

We feel that we are going to do very well in these. And, look, the paths to 270 has continued to increase over the last couple weeks as the map has expanded.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Sean Spicer from the Republican National Committee, joining us from Trump headquarters in New York tonight, thanks so much.

SEAN SPICER: Thanks, Hari.

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