RNC launching its own tech start-up

posted at 11:21 am on February 4, 2014 by Allahpundit

It certainly looks tech-y, although after reading stories like this after the last election about the comparative sophistication of Democrats’ data analysis, I tend to imagine that DNC headquarters looks like “Tron” now.

Republican data nerds seem pretty excited about this, though. Background from the WSJ:

The RNC Tuesday is announcing the formation of Para Bellum Labs, an in-house technology incubator that combines the committee’s data-analytics arm with its digital-marketing unit. As part of that effort, the committee is on the prowl for programmers and other engineers to staff its latest venture…

“When it comes to recruiting top talent, our competition isn’t the Democratic Party – it’s the Facebooks, LinkedIns and Googles of the world,” Mr. Reda said in a release set to go out Tuesday…

The RNC has even redecorated space on the first floor of its Washington, D.C., headquarters to look more like the bright, open offices often associated with tech startups, complete with walls made of dry-erase boards and lots of Apple products. Even the office attire is decidedly more casual than the coat-and-tie ethos of other departments.

In its pitch, the RNC is trying to convince these engineers that they will have all of the freedom of a startup to create new ways to improve turnout as well as a guaranteed funding stream that most Silicon Valley ventures would covet.

Here’s the lab’s website, which already has two dozen or so job listings posted for D.C. and San Mateo. It can be maddening as a layman listening to industry people talk in vague, gassy terms about “innovation” and “creativity” without ever specifying what they’re up to, but the gist here, I think, is better microtargeting. You don’t want to waste campaign ads or fundraising pitches on people who can’t really be convinced to support you, and you don’t want to waste GOTV efforts on voters who do support you but probably won’t turn out. The more data you have on individual voters and the smarter you are about analyzing it, the more you can predict (a) which people are truly persuadable and (b) what the best way to persuade them is. One vivid example from the 2012 election was when Obama’s campaign sent out e-mails with overly familiar subject headings like “Can we talk?” or even “Hey.” We laughed at them at the time but Team O had studied the issue and found that that sort of chummy, informal fundraising pitch was just the trick to get some Democrats to open their wallets. Ninety percent of politics is advertising of various sorts, and Obama’s advertising research bureau was the bleeding edge. Here’s the GOPs way of trying to catch up.

In theory, based on its analysis of voter preferences, Para Bellum could nudge party leaders towards a different kind of agenda, likely the sort of middle-class pitch that Mike Lee’s been pushing lately. But then, you don’t need a “Big Data” tech effort to see the potential there. If party chieftains have resisted so far, it’s because they want to, not because they’re ignorant. Oh well. At the very least, it’s worthwhile for the GOP to encourage young conservatives to focus on tech. Exit quotation:


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LOL, who’s going to vote for them? The newly amnestied?

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Will they attack the tea party first or liberals?

gwelf on February 4, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Cue the Luddites…

rndmusrnm on February 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

The GOP is going to be the biggest astroturf party. No principles, all style, and no base.

nobar on February 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

What a waste of funds, but then who in their right mind donates to the RNC any more?

Can’t they just use what is readily available?

Mind you, nice job if you can get it…

Scrumpy on February 4, 2014 at 11:28 AM

A faster way for conservatives to gain elite influence is to focus not on Hollywood or on academia, but on tech.

The media and academia are the reason why traffic in NJ/NY is a bigger career-ending political scandal than, uh… dead Americans and Clinton’s incompetence at State.

Media and academia set the narrative and the policy. They also “educate” the next generation of pop-culture swilling Pajama-Americans.

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 11:29 AM

The RNC has even redecorated space on the first floor of its Washington, D.C., headquarters to look more like the bright, open offices often associated with tech startups

Nothing inspires confidence more than redecorating!

Happy Nomad on February 4, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Gee, here’s a “Novel” approach.

How about Politicians talk to the masses with an
articulate message??

Too Edgy huh?

Soooooo damn sick of this nonsense…

ToddPA on February 4, 2014 at 11:35 AM

The GOP is going to be the biggest astroturf party. No principles, all style, and no base.

nobar on February 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

They’re going to spend millions on how to better word e-mails begging for campaign donations, LOL.

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 11:36 AM

The GOP doesn’t understand for a minute what Team Obama did with fundraising and micro targeting. Team O understood that for people, all it took was $2 to invest then in Obama’s candidacy. The more $2 donations he got, the more voters they knew were committed to him. It was about investing in a candidate. No matter how small the commitment, people felt tied to him.

The GOP laughed at those emails to their detriment.

Also, the GOP does not understand the microtargeting at all. (Micro targeting requires a ground game, which te GOP threw out the chance to have when they nominated Romney). To micro target, you need feet on the ground to put the poster up in locations those voters will be. You need to think outside the box and buy ads on free version of IOS and android apps. The GOP leadership is not programmed to connect with people. It up until recently believed all it’s potential voters were entrepreneurs.

Good luck, GOP, you’re going to need it.

h a p f a t on February 4, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Weird name — it could send the LSM into paroxysms:

Parabellum Definition: a type of semiautomatic pistol or machine-gun; also called Luger …

Etymology: Latin ‘for war’ …

ShainS on February 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

How about you take a small government, fiscally conservative agenda to the people?

Jack_Burton on February 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Great…we are going to learn more about Graham/McCain and quicker?

Maybe more “viral” youtubes?

Pajama boys?

I can hardly wait…

right2bright on February 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Good luck, GOP, you’re going to need it.

h a p f a t on February 4, 2014 at 11:39 AM

And the $2 donations from offshore couldn’t be traced…

right2bright on February 4, 2014 at 11:41 AM

towards a different kind of agenda, likely the sort of middle-class pitch that Mike Lee’s been pushing lately.

They could just ask this question, over and over, run ads:

What has obama and Hillary done to help the middle class and the poor?

Amnesty will hurt the blacks in the USA.

Amnesty will hurt the under- and un-employed, legal citizens of the USA, blue and white-colored.

We are not Hyphenated-Amerians. We are Americans.

But then, you don’t need a “Big Data” tech effort to see the potential there. If party chieftains have resisted so far, it’s because they want to, not because they’re ignorant.

Their greed for dough and power supersedes even their ignorance.

2014 will teach them all a good lesson.

Peggy Noonan called it grief, not rage.

She be wrong. Rage is minor, compared with what the people feel, toward the hacks in both parties.

It just so happens that obama is in charge, and thus his party will get the bigger hammer.

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 11:43 AM

They’re going to spend millions on how to better word e-mails begging for campaign donations, LOL.

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Yeah, telling us that we’ve got it all wrong about Rubio/Ryan/Christie/Jeb Bush or [insert your favorite surrender weasel here]

Happy Nomad on February 4, 2014 at 11:43 AM

They’re going to spend millions on how to better word e-mails begging for campaign donations, LOL.

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Without millions, computers, advisers, my reply is consistently “Go to Hell”.

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 11:45 AM

How about you take a small government, fiscally conservative agenda to the people?

Jack_Burton on February 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

This is still the establishment GOP! They don’t do fiscally conservative or small government.

Happy Nomad on February 4, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Parabellum Definition: a type of semiautomatic pistol or machine-gun; also called Luger …

Etymology: Latin ‘for war’ …

ShainS on February 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Love your comments ShainS. Perfect, just perfect.

Molon Labe.

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 11:46 AM

The RNC Tuesday is announcing the formation of Para Bellum Labs …

… whose mission is to promote AMNESTY, propagandize for liberal “progressive” politicians like Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, and to destroy the Tea Party and harass elected conservatives and conservative voters.

Pork-Chop on February 4, 2014 at 11:48 AM

reinstate Tracinski’s Rule of American Politics, which states that “the left must be suppressed, hounded, mocked, vilified, and made to feel ashamed of itself. The idea is that we need to keep their heads down and keep them on the defensive, because the moment they feel confident and emboldened, they will attempt to take away all of our liberties.”

It is war.

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 11:48 AM

This will be a slick as Siragusa’s man pouch.

Lonetown on February 4, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Also, the GOP does not understand the microtargeting at all. (Micro targeting requires a ground game, which te GOP threw out the chance to have when they nominated Romney). To micro target, you need feet on the ground to put the poster up in locations those voters will be. You need to think outside the box and buy ads on free version of IOS and android apps. The GOP leadership is not programmed to connect with people. It up until recently believed all it’s potential voters were entrepreneurs.

Good luck, GOP, you’re going to need it.

h a p f a t on February 4, 2014 at 11:39 AM

I also want to add that the “feet on the ground” are usually produced by the party base, which the GOP is busy trying to purge. I wonder who they expect to stump for them.

Doomberg on February 4, 2014 at 11:50 AM

The left will pronto claim the guy in the picture is a “Ventriloquist dummy”, what they called the only black senator, Tim Scott of SC.

They are so erudite and so truly liberal/progressive.

Progressivism Kills.

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Will they be DOS based, or run Windows 3.1?

portlandon on February 4, 2014 at 11:52 AM

The war s/b on leftism.

Quit calling them liberal and progressive. They never are.

We are the true liberals, in the truest sense of the word.

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Yes, yes, I know where it comes from, but that ‘FAIL HARDER’ sign in this context made me crack up.

ElectricPhase on February 4, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Republicans like McCain, McConnell, Boehner, Ryan, et al. claim to be conservatives, and attack the TEA Party as extremists, when in reality, the TEA Party are the grassroots conservatives who believe in the Constitution and being fiscally responsible. They don’t know that?

lea on February 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Parabellum or Para Bellum is the typical name for a 9mm caliber cartridge.

Also Latin for “wish for peace, prepare for war”

kurtzz3 on February 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

That video was just sad. Everyone there looked sad. It was like Initech from Office Space. Where’s Bill Lumbergh? :-)

GOP Tech Turd: I’m here to make interweb ads pushing amnesty and tax loopholes for amnesty-loving billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg.

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Romney lost because his get out the vote high-tech did not work.
They forgot to test it before election day….

albill on February 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Romney lost because his get out the vote high-tech did not work.
They forgot to test it before election day….

albill on February 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Romney lost because no one identified with a well-heeled private equity executive from Massachusetts who ran a campaign about nothing.

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Idiots. The tea party and the libertarians teamed up to kill immigration reform amnesty pandering. And the ghouls are still trying to re-animate the corpse.

Rush is busy deconstructing the GOPe, and it is a joy to hear. Like a fine symphony or an AC/DC concert.

platypus on February 4, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Since the average age of Republicans probably skews at be older, I suggest that they take a cue from elder’s internet habits and just send out lots of junk chain e-mails with funny jokes or animals to them.
These Republican email recipients will then forward the chain emails to friends and family and reach nearly everyone in the US in less than a day.
;-)

albill on February 4, 2014 at 12:02 PM

I also want to add that the “feet on the ground” are usually produced by the party base, which the GOP is busy trying to purge. I wonder who they expect to stump for them.
Doomberg on February 4, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Romney’s Death Star was the GOP war on its base in its incipiency. The GOP has to fight off Democrats, the mainstream media, academia and Hollywood in order to win. I don’t understand why they think they can do that without the Tea Party vociferously fighting on their behalf.

I believe they would rather lose than elect a true president of the people.

h a p f a t on February 4, 2014 at 12:03 PM

I also want to add that the “feet on the ground” are usually produced by the party base, which the GOP is busy trying to purge. I wonder who they expect to stump for them.

Doomberg on February 4, 2014 at 11:50 AM

I wonder the same. Disgruntled Democrats won’t vote for them, they will simply stay home. Do they really think they can win simply on the moderate voters? Many of the Independents are made up of conservatives who have left the Republican Party (me included). Maybe they’ll learn something once they analyze the data they receive from this tech center.

lea on February 4, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Thank kceva

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 12:05 PM

I hope they’re prepared for saboteurs.

Because progs are unemployed, also.

And there ain’t nuthin they’d love more on their resume then to be the mole whistleblower on the nefariosity of Repub campaigning.

budfox on February 4, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Radio Shack

ted c on February 4, 2014 at 12:11 PM

…our version of Smart Power?

KOOLAID2 on February 4, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Maybe they’ll learn something once they analyze the data they receive from this tech center.

lea on February 4, 2014 at 12:04 PM

GOP Tech Turd: Our voters are against policy X.

GOP Fat Cat Donor: Policy X is my bread and butter. More glossy interweb ads pushing policy X! Make Senator Graham look less like a talking puppet and edit out the lipstick he’s wearing.

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 12:13 PM

And the best part: it will be powered by Orca under the hood.

The Schaef on February 4, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Romney lost because his get out the vote high-tech did not work.
They forgot to test it before election day….

albill on February 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Rather like the Obamacare website n’est pas?

KW64 on February 4, 2014 at 12:14 PM

They’re going to spend millions on how to better word e-mails begging for campaign donations, LOL.

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Excellent! I’ve never seen anything with a GOP return address that didn’t beg for money. They get millions and still lose.

rplat on February 4, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Radio Shack

ted c on February 4, 2014 at 12:11 PM

LOL. :-)

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Rather like the Obamacare website n’est pas?

KW64 on February 4, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Barry had an awesome campaign team full of dedicated useful idiots who bought the whole “utopia” garbage. They built a winning band.

The GOP has a demoralized, stodgy and corporate-like Initech operation and a fool who tweets this:

A faster way for conservatives to gain elite influence is to focus not on Hollywood or on academia, but on tech.
11:23 PM – 3 Feb 2014

How are you going to get young tech-savvy campaign workers when Hollywood and academia demonizes and forbids association with your organization?

And what exactly does the GOP represent these days?

Punchenko on February 4, 2014 at 12:24 PM

SECOD LOOK AT ORCA!!

BacaDog on February 4, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Weird name — it could send the LSM into paroxysms:

Parabellum Definition: a type of semiautomatic pistol or machine-gun; also called Luger …

Etymology: Latin ‘for war’ …

ShainS on February 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

This level of ‘error’ is terrible. Here’s pointing at you, Reince Priebus: you’re an idiot.

Lourdes on February 4, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Romney lost because his get out the vote high-tech did not work.
They forgot to test it before election day….

albill on February 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

I stopped believing these mishaps were “mistakes” when John McCain was nominated to, uhh, ‘oppose’ Obama.

These aren’t mistakes. They’re intentional “bone headed” thwarts to succeeding.

Lourdes on February 4, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Here’s the lab’s website, which already has two dozen or so job listings posted for D.C. and San Mateo. It can be maddening as a layman listening to industry people talk in vague, gassy terms about “innovation” and “creativity” without ever specifying what they’re up to, but the gist here, I think, is better microtargeting.

Bingo.

Robert_Paulson on February 4, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Weird name — it could send the LSM into paroxysms:

Parabellum Definition: a type of semiautomatic pistol or machine-gun; also called Luger …

Etymology: Latin ‘for war’ …

ShainS on February 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

For a technology lab, maybe “Sara Bellum Labs” would be a better name (cerebellum).

gregbert on February 4, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Parabellum or Para Bellum is the typical name for a 9mm caliber cartridge.

Also Latin for “wish for peace, prepare for war”

kurtzz3 on February 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Maybe they should’ve called it Cerebellum, because they
apparently need one……

ToddPA on February 4, 2014 at 12:54 PM

better microtargeting.

Dems will call it “microaggression.” Also, y’all better vet the heck out of anyone involved to prevent Dem infiltrators.

Lastly, is it safe to assume Salem and Townhall will sell commenters’ info to them for microtargeting? FYI, I don’t do telephone surveys.

Christien on February 4, 2014 at 12:56 PM

In case you hadn’t noticed, the RNC is not too interested in people like us who pay attention to what’s going on and have an endemic loathing of the putrid leftist turds running this country. We HIV (High Information Voters) haven’t had much luck winning national elections lately.

Rightly, they are focused on the great unwashed LIV’s who have to be technologically wowed in order to pay even the slightest attention. The Dumbocrats have been very good at creating a fairly wide base out of this segment. Like it or not these people are allowed to and do vote, and they seem to have had some pretty significant electoral leverage. Again, these voters cannot be educated, they must be entertained.

So, I support the RNC in their quest to entice as many LIV’s as they possibly can by making them feel good about themselves. If they can succeed maybe we’ll win a national election for a change.

NOMOBO on February 4, 2014 at 1:15 PM

The GOP doesn’t understand for a minute what Team Obama did with fundraising and micro targeting. Team O understood that for people, all it took was $2 to invest then in Obama’s candidacy. The more $2 donations he got, the more voters they knew were committed to him. It was about investing in a candidate. No matter how small the commitment, people felt tied to him.

The GOP laughed at those emails to their detriment.

Also, the GOP does not understand the microtargeting at all. (Micro targeting requires a ground game, which te GOP threw out the chance to have when they nominated Romney). To micro target, you need feet on the ground to put the poster up in locations those voters will be. You need to think outside the box and buy ads on free version of IOS and android apps. The GOP leadership is not programmed to connect with people. It up until recently believed all it’s potential voters were entrepreneurs.

Good luck, GOP, you’re going to need it.

h a p f a t on February 4, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Very well stated hapfaton. The other problem is getting the talent needed to make all this cute high-tech, gee-whiz, programs work. All the cutting edge talent is locked up by all the cutting edge companies like Amazon, Google and the like. And those same companies give their employees paid sabbaticals so they can work on the campaigns. There is also a very real risk that this project is going to attract moles for the DNC. In fact, what I would have done is keep this project on the down-low, and opened an office not in the US, but in India where talent is plentiful and cheap.
The only good thing here is that the GOP realizes that they have to have a national GOP centric platform and not a campaign centric platform such as the epic failure that was Orca. We cannot depend on each campaign to be as software savvy as the DNC.

JimmyGee on February 4, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Not gonna make a difference in turnout when the principles of the party have been corrupted.

KMC1 on February 4, 2014 at 1:23 PM

I walked precincts in Reno two October weekends for Romney. I had printed lists to track homeowners’ responses — which I tried to juggle with my pen and my script of questions. We handed in our completed lists at the end of the day to be uploaded. It was pathetic. I was thinking, “Why isn’t this tracked on an iPhone app?”

aunursa on February 4, 2014 at 1:31 PM

In theory, based on its analysis of voter preferences, Para Bellum could nudge party leaders towards a different kind of agenda, likely the sort of middle-class pitch that Mike Lee’s been pushing lately. But then, you don’t need a “Big Data” tech effort to see the potential there. If party chieftains have resisted so far, it’s because they want to, not because they’re ignorant. Oh well. At the very least, it’s worthwhile for the GOP to encourage young conservatives to focus on tech.

This is besides the point. This shouldn’t be to demonstrate the potential of a message. It’s to realize the potential; it’s about execution.

I’ve worked in digital marketing and development for several years, doing this kind of work (predictive analytics and useful execution in several online channels) for companies rather than political organizations. I follow politicians’ digital efforts (from both parties), and I’ve always been perplexed why it seems so hard for the GOP. Microtargeting isn’t new to the GOP which has used Voter Vault for ages. The GOP used to have the edge over the DNC in microtargeting (think direct mail, GOTV placement), but have since been leap-frogged in extending and enhancing this same discipline to the digital side.

Obama’s campaign wasn’t doing anything cutting edge in the world of online/digital marketing that companies (retailers, travel, marketing agencies, etc.) aren’t doing better and year round. I attended a presentation at a digital marketing conference where Obama’s email guy held the left-leaning audience captive with nothing more than basic A/B testing in every email send. Simple testing informed by data from DMPs like BlueKai.

Putting t-shirts and facial hair on political operatives doesn’t make the effort agile or best-in-class. I hope they’re looking for folks with this expertise outside of politics, where results are demanded, honed, and proven by daily reporting of financial performance through continual experimentation, not by if your boss won on election day.

bhj on February 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Putting t-shirts and facial hair on political operatives doesn’t make the effort agile or best-in-class. I hope they’re looking for folks with this expertise outside of politics, where results are demanded, honed, and proven by daily reporting of financial performance through continual experimentation, not by if your boss won on election day.

bhj on February 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

As someone who teaches marketing, I can say you are dead-center correct.

itsspideyman on February 4, 2014 at 1:40 PM

I’m underwhelmed.

They’re looking for MySQL and Postgres people?

Apparently, their budget is much smaller than the $600MM we paid for the ObamaCare site.

Looking down the list of what kinds of technical help they need, it seems to follow the same pattern. Looks like shoestring budget stuff.

Were I interviewing with them, I’d tell them that they’re thinking too small, and that they need to stop and re-think the whole process before they get stuck down a path that doesn’t take them where they want to go.

No, you don’t have to use Oracle or SQL Server for everything. Enterprise applications can be built with MySQL. But for the type of data mining you’re going to be doing with these, I’d use one of the big boy servers, or you’re going to be re-inventing a lot of wheels.

Chris of Rights on February 4, 2014 at 2:09 PM

two dozen or so job listings posted for D.C. and San Mateo.

Tech companies in the Bay Area are already having trouble filling positions. Needing the person to be a mainstream Republican on top of that makes it nearly impossible, at least within a reasonable commute distance from San Mateo, where young, mainstream Republicans are nearly impossible to find. Libertarian-minded tech workers are plentiful, but (a) they certainly don’t want to be in the business of electing Huckabee or Santorum, and (b) even they might wonder whether an RNC job on their resume will be a black mark for future employers.

calbear on February 4, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Go ahead and hire these wonderful programmers and writers but will the hardcore GOP listen to them? The Republican Party that’s outside the BeltWay has been screaming but it falls on deaf ears. The elite members who control the agenda have different ideas, they didn’t work before and they probably won’t work in the future.

mixplix on February 4, 2014 at 2:54 PM

“Targeted districts”, with “crosshairs”, a Boeckel invention, but blamed on Sarah Palin, erroneously.

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 4:03 PM

The future belongs to brainwashed tech-zombies.

Please… shoot me first.

sartana on February 4, 2014 at 6:29 PM