**This is a preliminary report, as we are still going over the data, cross checking FEC disclosures with information obtained from OpenSecrets.org.  If you would like to see the data set, message this blog.**

There is a lot of talk in DC about what will happen if the GOP takes control of the senate, and gains more seats in the house. Seeing as how 70 republicans need to buck the leadership over immigration, there will either be a change in leadership, or the GOP will part ways with conservatives. This author has a hunch that the GOP took the first steps in having this happen in the 2012 election. Based on a hunch, we did this research project. By next week we hope to sort out which candidates in the NRCC’s Young Gun program were conservative, or just plain old RINOs. Regardless, we have to bring attention to the fact that the program was not successful, and resulted in the waste of precious resources.


The Young Guns Program was formed and headed by Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).  Its stated mission was to help:

Republican candidates to build strong and winning campaigns through goals, benchmarks, and accountability. In 2010, 62 of more than 90 Young Guns candidates were elected to the US House of Representatives helping Republicans win the majority. Every Young Guns candidate plays a vital role in keeping our Republican team on offense and helps build a lasting and productive Republican Majority for the American people.

In 2012, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Co-Founders Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), managed the Young Guns program with the goal of making “the Republican half of the House floor standing room only with the need for the Sergeant of Arms to bring in folding chairs in the aisles to accommodate our new membership.”

The results of this program set out by the NRCC and the House Majority leadership was disastrous, with only an overall 44% success rate. Seventy-Five candidates were run, with only 33 winning their races. More victories came from the second-tier ranking system the NRCC set out than their first tier candidates. This probably is a result of ranking based off of a candidate’s ability to fundraise, instead of the candidate’s ability to attract district attention, likelihood of regional victory, and the general local political climate.

There were Four Levels of membership in the program were:

1)      Young Gun

Young Gun is the top tier of the ‘Young Gun’ recruitment program. These candidates have met a series of rigorous goals and established a clear path to victory through their ability to build a formidable campaign structure and achieve important goals and benchmarks. These candidates are the GOP’s best opportunities.

  • There were 42 candidates listed as Young Guns.
  • Only 13 Young Gun candidates won; this tier had a 31% success rate.
  • Of 13, 5 Young Gun victories were in the South, and one in Republican North Dakota
  • 5 victories received more than 13% of the vote: 1 in CA, one in ND, 2 in the South, and one in Ohio.
  • 9 races lost by more than 10% of the vote.  These top 9 losses accounted for a total of $715,410 in expenditures by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
  • Of the $2,966,644 spent in all on campaigns, $2,387,094 was spent on losing campaigns, while only $579,018 was spent on successful campaigns. (one donation of $532 was made to another tier candidate).
  • Half of the losing races were from New England, Iowa (2), California (2), and Colorado.
  • Of the 15 races where the victor won by fewer than 4%, only five went to Republicans. The program had only a 1/3 success rate in close races.

2)      Vanguard

The definition of the word Vanguard is “the leading edge of a movement”. The Vanguard program provides a framework for the NRCC to assist candidates running in Republican-favored seats as they head into the fall election season. Its goal is to form a lasting relationship between likely future members of Congress, the NRCC and the House GOP Conference.

  • 21 candidates were listed as Vanguards.
  • 20 Vanguard candidates won, at a 95% success rate.
  • The only candidate in this category to lose was Doug LaMalfa (CA-26), having received only 41% of the vote (losing by 39,000).

3)      Contender

Contender is the third level of the Young Guns program. These candidates have met more stringent fundamental goals and benchmarks and have developed a “mature” campaign operation. They are in seats that appear to favor the GOP candidate and are established on the road to victory.

  • 3 candidates were listed as Contenders.
  • NO candidate listed as a contender won.

4)      On the Radar

Once candidates are enrolled in the program, they become eligible to advance to On the Radar, the second level of the Young Guns program. These candidates have met the minimum threshold in campaign organization and are prepared to advance to more difficult goals throughout the cycle. They are in seats of interest to the NRCC.

  • 9 candidates were listed as On the Radar.
  • No candidate listed as On the Radar won.

In total, losses came from the following regions: 13 from the pacific coast, 8 from New England, 7 from Rocky Mountain/western states, 6 from the south, and 3 from the Midwest.

Check back for updates.