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.
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:
A faster way for conservatives to gain elite influence is to focus not on Hollywood or on academia, but on tech.
— Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) February 4, 2014