What exactly is the role of the DNC and RNC?

Each major party organ looms large in an election year, but their actual operations are often misunderstood

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This week, after months of speculation about — and in some cases denigration of — her tenure as leader of the Republican National Committee, longtime party chair Ronna McDaniel announced she would step down from the role she's held since 2017. In a statement, McDaniel called her time as party chair the "honor and privilege of my life." Some of the "proudest accomplishments" in that time included things like "firing Nancy Pelosi" and "expanding the Party through minority outreach at our community centers." According to McDaniel, Republicans will have an opportunity to select a new party chair after the group's spring training session on March 8. 

While her departure is not wholly unexpected, McDaniel's choice to step down as RNC chair has nevertheless refocused public attention on the inner workings of a core institution in American politics: a major political party's national committee. Like its Democratic counterpart the DNC, the Republican National Committee is the main organ of Republican politics in the United States; broadly, it is what makes the Republican Party the Republican Party — likewise for the DNC and the Democrats. 

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