. “What matters more is whether political elites, and especially parties, serve as filters. Put simply, political parties are democracy’s gatekeepers.”Shields said that after the McCain-Feingold legislation of 2002 shifted political donations out of the party structure and into the world of outside groups, the RNC drifted for several years. Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 was a wakeup call that the RNC had to be reimagined if it was going to remain relevant. Shields, and RNC chairman Reince Priebus, decided to focus on maintaining and improving the GOP’s historic voter file, so that year in and year out, Republican campaigns could come to the RNC for the best data on which to base their voter targeting efforts.“We hadn’t redesigned ourselves along those lines until Reince did it in ’13, until we sort of asked ourselves, ‘What are we actually here to do?’ Shields said.Shields is married to another high-power GOP operative, Katie Walsh, who took the RNC chief of staff job after him. They were engaged in early 2017 and married a year ago. Walsh was a deputy White House chief of staff in the first few months of Trump’s presidency and is now back at the RNC as a senior data and digital adviser.Shields and Walsh are both deeply involved in the work of building a Republican party infrastructure that lasts over time, but for now, the coming midterms are their focus.Increasing GOP turnout may help save seats, but it won’t be enough in some key races to counter extremely high enthusiasm among Democrats and anti-Trump independents. Democrats need to pick up 24 seats in the House to get to a majority of 218. And the Cook Political Report said in late August that of the 66 races that were too close to call, 62 were held by Republicans and only four by Democrats, pointing to a huge number of vulnerable Republican incumbents.It’s not a good sign for the GOP.It hasn’t been just Trump who has ignored overwhelming evidence that Democrats are likely to win back the House. Conservative media personalities like Fox News’ Sean Hannity have reinforced the belief among many Trump supporters that polls are wrong.“When you see a poll or something comes out that says Democrats might win, the conservative media says, ‘That’s not true. We’re fine,’” Shields said. “And that’s actually harmful because it tells our base you don’t need to bother [to vote].”“We need conservative media to quit telling people everything’s fine, and we need the voters to know that what’s at stake is higher taxes, government-run health care,” he said. “Once they understand that they go, ‘Oh my God, I better show up and vote. We don’t want that.’”Hannity, who talks frequently to Trump, often imitates and echoes the president’s messaging, and this case is a good example. Trump first started saying he thought Republicans could win the majority of contests for congressional seats this fall — which he labeled a “red wave” — in June, according to the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser.On June 22, Hannity’s personal website carried an article headlined, “RED WAVE RISING: Trump calls for ‘RED WAVE’ in November.” Three other headlines on the page amplified the same message.On Aug. 8, Trump tweeted, “As long as I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates (within reason), they will win! I LOVE the people, & they certainly seem to like the job I’m doing. If I find the time, in between China, Iran, the Economy and much more, which I must, we will have a giant Red Wave!”Two days later, Hannity’s radio broadcast was headlined, “The Red Wave Can Happen.”By the time Trump arrived in Billings, Mont., for a campaign rally on Sept. 6, he had gotten the message that he needed to amp up the fear factor among his base. Yet even then, he chose to do so in a way that deflected blame from his own bad poll numbers, and pointed the finger at his own supporters. “If [impeachment] does happen, it’s your fault, because you didn’t go out to vote,” Trump said. “You didn’t go out to vote — that’s the only way it could happen.”The Hannity echo effect was predictable. The talking head ran a segment the next evening in which a graphic appeared over his left shoulder that said in big white letters, “Most Important MIDTERM of Our Lifetime.”____Read more from Yahoo News:Democrat: Trump’s ‘deranged’ behavior is boosting 25th Amendment billWhy Obama didn’t act on Russian election interference benefitting TrumpSpecial operations boom years may be coming to a closeScientists say ‘neuroweapons’ were behind Cuba attacksIn Arizona Senate race, a battle over political evolutionPhotos: Millions prepare as Hurricane Florence approaches Southeast coast of the U.S.