The Tech Elephant: How the GOP can continue to reclaim the tech advantage
Writer's note: This post orginiated as a special piece written on Adobe Slate.
White House Tech
There are millions of Republican voters out there. They have many similarities and a few differences. Differences will need to be worked out at some point in the future. This article isn't about our differences. It's about how to get what we all want: to get more Republicans elected to lead.
Many believe that tech has kept Republicans out of the White House. Obama and the Democrats dominated campaign tech innovation for several campaign cycles. From 2006 to 2012 Republicans were the absolute worst at campaign tech. Mitt Romney's Orca was the pinnacle of bad GOP tech.
In 2014 things changed. After the 2012 elections the RNC and many other GOP and Conservative groups reevaluated and reinvested heavily in their technical infrastructures. This resulted in massive gains in 2014.
Sidenote: the NRCC has been at the forefront of this innovation and is what I would consider the most publicly visible Republican tech pioneers.
2016 looks even brighter. Websites are nicer, and Republicans are innovating the crap out of technology at the national level. Everyone should be watching these incredible GOP candidates and taking notes of what they're doing. Their staffs are coming up with some fantastic ideas that can be quickly translated to more local levels as well.
What About Oregon?
The Republican Party in Oregon isn't strong. There is work going on to help rectify that situation. I am optimistic about our future. However, high quality, innovative GOP staffers don't grow on trees and neither do the checks paying their salaries. Eventually, there will need to be investment by many people and groups to help build the Oregon GOP. We can't rest on laurels until then. We need to prove we deserve to be supported. That we can do a lot with a little. In a small way we can both prove the Conservative model of governance and further its reach. It only takes a few steps.
What You Can Do
1. Recognize Tech's Value
Face to face voter contact from the candidate is almost always the most effective way to get a vote. Candidates and organizations should knock doors. No tech replaces that kind of effective campaigning.
That being said tech cannot be ignored. How your website looks, what your social media says, and how you communicate with voters online matters. If you have the opportunity, choosing quality will always benefit you. Democrats choose quality digital outreach every time. When you skimp on yours you provide them a free advantage. When you're not in the position of power that's not something you can afford to do.
If you've ever heard "Voter's don't care about presentation! They just need to hear the cold hard truth/facts!" Then get it our of your head (and if you've ever said that please stop). Voters care a ton about presentation. If you polled them they may not say so, but their actions show otherwise. It's why Republicans call the estate tax the death tax and democrats refer to taxes as assessments, fees, or any other number of things. They connect better and with more voters when presented that way.
Considering the dramatic value of tech in campaigns, you need to not just realize it has value; you need to then learn about how to make it valuable to you. You can actually be you or someone you hire to do it for you. It behooves you to learn as much as you can yourself. That will allow you to extract more value out of social media by being more effective at a lower cost. Since cost tends to be an issue for Oregon Republicans this is especially important for us.
It's as simple as Googling "How do I facebook?" Learn at your own pace. Ask others for resources, and don't be afraid to learn from how Democrats approach tech. Many great Republican techies learned by studying the Ds.
Don't hang out in the status quo. Just because now you have a Website, Facebook, and Twitter doesn't mean your relevant. Instagram is becoming very important and there will always be new ways to reach voters. Experiment with them. Test them out.
That's why you're even reading this in the first place. If you scroll to the bottom you'll see this was created in Adobe Slate. It's an iPad app for telling stories with beautifully formatted text and photos. It could be compelling for simple local candidate websites or a life story with old photos from your candidate for Governor. The possibilities are enormous, but you'll never know what those possibilities are unless you experiment.
New apps and services are coming out all the time. Many of them will disappear but others will stick and become important to voters. If you're there innovating first, many of these innovations will come on your terms instead of your opponents terms. Republican terms instead of Democratic ones. And that's really the most important part of this whole thing. Those who set the terms of the battle have the best shot at winning.