GOP Seeks to ‘Leapfrog’ Democrats on Big Data

Susan Hall
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The Republican Party plans to hire around 30 developers in Silicon Valley in an effort to boost the GOP’s technology operation for next year’s midterm elections, reports The Washington Post.

The GOP clearly had a data problem in the last presidential election–among other problems–and it hopes to emulate and even “leapfrog” the Democrats on data analysis, the Post reports.

The GOP was expected to get out of the dark ages to some extent and become more digital by the next presidential election, but some members of Congress can’t wait that long. Though he may be an unlikely candidate to bring about technology change, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is throwing his weight behind digital innovation, according to The Huffington Post.   

He’s using an outside company called Crowdverb, as are some other Republicans, The New York Times reports. A Pennsylvania company called BehaviorMatrix also is helping GOP lawmakers track what people are saying on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and elsewhere.

But Obama’s campaign was successful by relying on internal tech staff, rather than outsourcing Big Data functions. Its system remains proprietary, though the Post reports there are efforts to make it more widely available to other Democrats. The Silicon Valley effort, though, is aimed at a system belonging to the GOP and its myriad candidates rather than being proprietary.

A huge point is made by Romney’s digital director Zac Moffat, who says, “You can find all the voters, but you still need to determine what you are going to say to them.”

And while Silicon Valley seems to be the place to be in aspiring to technological innovation, the work force there is made up overwhelmingly of Democrats. As my colleague Carl Weinschenk put it:

“In the immediate aftermath of the vote, it was made clear that the GOP needed to reach out more effectively to the Latinos, women, and gay and other communities. It would be wise for the GOP leadership—and, in the final analysis, far better for the health of our political system—to build bridges to the information technology sector as well.”

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