Washington’s Conservative activists are now looking to tactics more often used by left-leaning candidates with the hope of gaining a political edge. And they’re doing it with tech.
“On the left there is a lot of innovation, a lot of new ideas that are happening,” said Mike Stall with Tech Roanoke. “I find that every time I find a cool new website shared on Facebook or whatever, it’s run by Progressives. And that is an existential threat.”
“Behind the scenes, the left does a really good job of having all these startup incubators where they will go invest millions of dollars in new companies and startups, provide them grants, provide the networking and training, and Y incubator style coaching through it,” he said. “And there really hasn’t been anything like that on the right. That’s been a difficult gap. It’s difficult for Conservative companies to fill that gap on the right end of the spectrum.”
Stall, along with former Washington State Representative Chad Magendanz, have formed Voter Science. It’s a tech-driven approach to campaigns, initiatives, and other political endeavors. Voter Science was recently among six startups across the country to be awarded a grant from Startup Caucus, an organization with the goal of funding startups that help Republicans win elections.
Voter Science attempts to mimic the resources that left-leaning politics in Washington have benefited from in the past.
“Let’s say you are running for school board, even today just finding the list of voters of who is in the school board district … most people don’t know how to do that,” Stall said. “It’s actually not easy to get the accurate list. Let’s say you want to get the number of how many votes Donald Trump got in Bellevue, if you are running in Bellevue, that is actually a very important number. Figuring that out is very difficult. Some of these are what seem like obvious questions as you are starting your campaign. This basic background knowledge just to give you some level footing is still very difficult to get.”
Magendanz says he got involved with Voter Science having experienced the political and campaign system humself, and observing how effective left activists are at what he calls “political imprinting.” He describes this as the stage when someone gets involved in politics or are thinking about running for office. It could be a school district or a city council. Left activists have a system in place for this.
“They are not very blatant about advertising where they are on the political spectrum, but before you know it, you are tied into their system and you are relying on that data, and then as you move up and establish yourself and build a track history as a politician, the next thing you know, you are running for a partisan office and of course those ties are already established,” Magendanz said. “It’s a very effective way to build a bench.”
To counter this, Voter Science focuses on canvassing and fundraising for Republican candidates. It can be used for ballot measures, petition gathers, targeting mailers, even field coordination.
“So we provide tools that you can use whether you have an android phone or an IOS phone, even if you want to work from the web,” Magendanz said. “You can be out there using our tools to leverage public data, and if you basically want to level up to more customized data with our analytics, there’s an opportunity to do that too. But you get in on the ground floor for free.”
“It basically focuses on the technology to help right of center campaigns and ballot measures win,” he said. “This is mainly a side hustle for a bunch of us, because most of us have regular jobs. We are really in it for the cause rather than the profit. This is a great opportunity for us to step it up and establish Voter Science as one of the premiere technology companies for Conservative campaigns.”