The Balanced Scorecard and the Republican National Committee

19th century picture of young Abraham Lincoln

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has struggled to capitalize on some big advantages in the elections of 2018, 2020, and 2022. The Balanced Scorecard is a widely used tool to help businesses, non-profits, and governmental organizations achieve their goals. Perhaps by looking again at their operations, the RNC can prevail in 2024.

By Mark Harris


The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a proven tool for organizational evaluation, strategy, and improvement. Typically, it includes factors such as “financial,” “customer,” “internal processes,” and “learning and growth.” According to Blocher et al., 2021, BSC financial goals include increasing profitability, growing revenue, and reducing costs. BSC customer satisfaction goals address improving the profitability of each customer, raising customer satisfaction, and reducing the time required to fulfill a customer’s desire. Internal process goals would be improving quality and productivity. Finally, learning and growth goals should focus on developing employees, using technology more effectively, and communicating strategy better to all stakeholders.

The BSC was developed in the 1990s, and since then has been adopted by thousands of organizations in a wide variety of fields. The BSC has found a home in the public sector, as I used it in the US Army Medical Department for over 20 years. Miller, 2017 wrote that the public sector, especially when reelection depends on organizational performance, has widely adopted performance measures such as the BSC. Private sector companies of all sizes have capitalized on the BSC, and it has proven itself valuable in non-profit organizations as well.  I worked in the past with the Republican National Committee (RNC), so this work will discuss how the BSC might look in the context of the RNC.

The Republican National Committee

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery, promote limited government, and protect individual rights and responsibilities. The Republican National Committee (RNC) was founded in 1856 as a private corporation to lead the Republican Party. The RNC is dedicated to promoting conservative ideals, conservative candidates, and conservative legislation throughout the United States. Key tasks include developing and promoting the party platform, which is a statement of what the party stands for. Key tasks also include fundraising, planning and executing election strategy, building the “party brand,” and assisting US state and territorial Republican parties. The RNC is composed of 168 members, including a chairperson (C), national committeeman (NCM), and national committeewoman (NCW) from each of 50 states and six territories (American Samoa, DC, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands). Ronna McDaniel remains the chairwoman of the RNC, and during my time, Tommy Hicks was the vice chairman. The RNC is supported by departments including member services, communication, digital, legal, and internal operations.

RNC BSC – Financial Aspect

The RNC is organized as a non-profit corporation and generates income primarily from donations. These are often cash or cash equivalents but can include real property or equities. The RNC’s finances are heavily regulated by the Federal Election Commission.  The RNC is only allowed to contribute to campaigns for Federal office. State and local GOP branches assist with local, regional, and federal campaigns. The RNC has an annual operating income between $100 and $500 million and has between 100 and 500 employees (Inc Fact, 2023). For the 2020 Presidential Campaign, however, the RNC received $649 million and disbursed $640 million. According to the Federal Election Commission for 2021, the RNC has received $123 million and disbursed $132 million (Federal Election Commission, 2021).

Like its rival the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the RNC creates no products, though it commissions products like mugs and clothing for campaigns, and provides no services, in the sense that a hospital or law firm does. The value that the RNC adds in its core activities is to impact understanding (and emotion) and consequently produce votes. The BSC goals of increasing profitability and growing revenue, therefore, require that the time of the primary fundraisers, such as the chairwoman and co-chairman, be carefully invested. Non-fundraising duties, such as supervising the day-to-day operations of the RNC, should be minimized. Staffers should ensure that every call, every speaking engagement, every internet-based request, and every piece of literature is optimized to make money. BSC measures might include net revenue per minute for phone calls, net revenue per hour for engagements, and decreases in cost per unit for each.

Other duties such as assisting the state C, NCM, and NMW, better enable the lower-level leaders to succeed and thereby multiply the impact of the primary RNC fundraisers. The C, NCM, and NCW positions are usually held by volunteers, as are almost all the other positions at the state and regional levels. These people are elected by their state or territorial GOP executive committees and pay their own way for almost every part of their job, resulting in a significant financial loss over a four-year term. Sometimes they are reimbursed for travel by their state committees.

RNC BSC – Customer Satisfaction Aspect

The RNC has many stakeholders, from individual donors to members of government to each and every voter in the USA. Donors want their dollars invested to elect credible candidates, produce compelling conservative arguments, and get votes. Members of government are satisfied when the RNC helps them get elected and provides them with political support for controversial votes. Incumbents appreciate it when the local party doesn’t say or do anything that will embarrass them. Individual voters want to know that their vote counts, that their voice is being heard, and that someone is fighting for them in the far away and hard to understand state and national capitals. “Customer satisfaction” in this context means that these three groups, and other stakeholders not named, get what they need. BSC scorecard measures would include donor activity (such as giving patterns, attendance at events), involvement patterns (voting, volunteering), and the activities and comments of government officials towards the party. Surveys play a critical role.

Donor profitability is a key BSC performance measure for the RNC. Time is limited, so Chairwoman McDaniel and Co-Chairman Hicks must prioritize the highest dollar donors and the largest groups of lower dollar donors. For the less wealthy, volunteer activity is a useful measure. Standard office practices like returning phone calls, answering emails, and sending thank you notes impact satisfaction and profitability.

Stakeholder satisfaction becomes difficult when stakeholders want different things, such as when coal company customers want reliable power at a fair price, but lenders want the company to shut down. This is doubly true for political organizations like the RNC. For example, Wouters & Walgrave, 2017 showed how demonstrations impacted politicians even against those politicians’ preconceptions. When the RNC, or a Republican subsidiary, sponsors an event, no matter how good, some stakeholders will be for it and some against it. The BSC must anticipate and mitigate this problem.

Another stakeholder issue is perceived identity. Racial minorities such as African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics have, in recent decades, felt underappreciated by the RNC. Religious minorities such as Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, often non-white themselves, have agreed. More religious people skew Republican, and less religious people skew Democrat (Castle et al., 2017). An RNC BSC goal would be to increase presence in areas with these people, and a measure would be contacts made and ultimately, turnout and GOP percentage of total votes delivered.

Finally, the RNC maintains contacts throughout the world to ensure that no matter the administration, foreign governments have access to Republican leaders and Republican values. Almost five million Americans live abroad, about three million of voting age, and a high percentage of those are registered as Republicans (NPR, 2022). The RNC BSC goals would include improving and expanding such contacts, gaining legitimacy as a global player, and developing linkages with public and private entities to accomplish GOP goals across the earth (Krahmann, 2017).

RNC BSC – Internal Processes

Modern politics is highly regulated, highly visible, and highly stressful. Getting the right candidates and the right messages to the right people at the right time and in the right way requires high-tech digital approaches as well as old fashioned phone calling and door knocking. Election laws, byzantine at best, must be scrupulously followed. Since people vote based on perceptions, which do not necessarily reflect reality, perception and reality must be equally excellent. Finally, the element of chance in politics, like “will a snowstorm keep my supporters away from the polling place,” or “will an unanticipated news break turn the race over,” hovers like a ghost.

RNC internal processes must prepare for all this and more. If candidates are the ultimate product, then finding, training, and supporting the best candidates would be “improving quality.” Every other product from the RNC, from interviews to videos, must reflect high quality and low cost. BSC measures like “number of profitable new products or features” and “inventory level” are directly applicable to candidate-supporting materials like mailers, but only indirectly applicable to candidates.

RNC BSC – Learning and Growth

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008 used digital technology in a way unprecedented in US politics, and the Republicans were caught off guard. Though the RNC is now at least as good as the DNC in this arena, 2008 is a cautionary tale about the importance of learning and growth. The Russian hacking of the DNC in 2016 was another wake up. The improprieties of 2020 remind us of the need to improve operations before, during, and after elections. The abuses of 2020 also require a robust legal presence to fight fraud in the future.

BSC measures under this category for the RNC might include training hours in skill development. Person-hours spent and percentage of invitees who attended the biannual RNC meetings and the biannual regional training events would be a measure. The RNC counts training hours for core RNC staff in each area, especially the digital and legal departments. Checking the environment for risks, from hackers as well as from legal entanglements, is necessary.


The Republican National Committee (RNC), like the DNC, are unusual organizations in the US. The RNC has a hybrid of paid and volunteer staff, lacks services or products in the traditional sense of the word, and is a non-profit corporation. The RNC is extremely high profile, serving to find, train, elect, and support American’s highest governmental leaders. The BSC itself introduces some amount of bureaucracy into organizations, but that can be useful in analysis of such a hybrid, complex organization (Costa Oliveira et al., 2019). The RNC, and the subsidiary state and territorial Republican parties, would benefit from a Balanced Scorecard (BSC) analysis and implementation.


Blocher, E., Juras, P. E., & Darsmith, S. (2021). Cost management a strategic emphasis. New York Mcgraw-Hill Llc.

Castle, J. J., Layman, G. C., Campbell, D. E., & Green, J. C. (2017). Survey Experiments on Candidate Religiosity, Political Attitudes, and Vote Choice. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 56(1), 143–161.

Costa Oliveira, H., Lima-Rodrigues, L., & Craig, R. (2019). The Presence of Bureaucracy in the Balanced Scorecard. Revista de Contabilidad, 22(2), 218–224.

Federal Election Commission. (2021). Browse Political action and party committees.

How electoral incentives shape performance

measurement efforts

How electoral incentives shape performance

measurement efforts

Inc Fact. (2023, September 4). Annual Report on Republican National Committee’s Revenue, Growth, SWOT Analysis & Competitor Intelligence – IncFact.

Krahmann, E. (2017). Legitimizing Private Actors in Global Governance: From Performance to Performativity. Politics and Governance, 5(1), 54.

Miller, S. M. (2017). How electoral incentives shape performance measurement efforts. Public Administration, 95(3), 623–637.

NPR. (2022, November 6). Why Americans living abroad are a voting bloc with untapped political potential. NPR; National Public Radio.

Soysa, I. B., Jayamaha, N. P., & Grigg, N. P. (2017). Validating the balanced scorecard framework for nonprofit organisations: an empirical study involving Australasian healthcare. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 30(9-10), 1005–1025.

Wouters, R., & Walgrave, S. (2017). Demonstrating Power. American Sociological Review, 82(2), 361–383.


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