More Anti-Gun Money in Virginia Race

As if Bloomberg’s 700 large weren’t enough, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly’s group are poised to spend $600,000 of other rich people’s money in Virginia races this year. They’ve been going after big donors as well, and it’s paying off. That’s 1.3 million dollars of anti-gun money being spent in a single state. That’s way more than NRA can afford to spend in a single state.

It was depressing to read this article, “How to Build a Digital Elephant, The GOP’s Biggest Obstacle in 2016,” this morning just after waking up. It’s essentially a story of how Silicon Valley oligarchs have built an impressive machine that the Republican Party is ill prepared to match, and it seems like a lot of candidates are making the same mistakes Mitt Romney made, in not getting his ORCA system off the ground until the election, where it spectacularly failed for lack of ever having been tested. What we’re seeing, essentially, is a bunch of rich billionaires buying Our Republic by creating an impressive analytical machine that helps Democrats reach low-information voters in large numbers with messaging compelling enough to them to get them to turn out, both at the polls and on the ground.

This isn’t the first time this has happened in our country’s history. William Randolph Hearst‘s yellow journalism machine managed to buy him enough influence to start a war. FDR coasted into office, and was re-elected three times largely because he understood how to use radio, when other candidates didn’t. It’s widely believed that Kennedy managed to defeat Richard Nixon in the 1960 election because he looked better on Television, and knew how to use Television. Obama almost definitely won the Presidency and re-election, because the people backing him understood how to use social media better than anyone else. Can the GOP learn in time?

Tying this back to gun rights, I don’t think the NRA is at all using these kinds of sophisticated analytics to understand its membership and other people NRA interacts with to understand more about them and how to motivate and message to them. Bloomberg has a ton of money to buy solutions to these problems, and if he figures this out before NRA does, we’re finished.

I like Glenn Reynold’s suggestion, “Meanwhile, if the GOP were smarter it would be pushing Google-unfriendly changes in tax and IP law, and couching them in Democratic buzzwords to make it hard for Obama to veto them. That would encourage Google to back off of the partisanship.” Not just tax and IP law, send a bill to Obama ending the H1-B program. That will really kick Google in the nuts. The GOP needs to learn to be ruthless to their enemies. Their unfortunate problem is they think their enemies are conservatives.

4 thoughts on “More Anti-Gun Money in Virginia Race”

  1. Two things.

    1) as a politically active libertarian (small L) and experienced software engineer, I’d like nothing more than to be able to contribute to this sort of thing, but I haven’t heard so much as a whisper, which leads me to believe that no one is rolling up their sleeves and even understanding how this stuff works let alone doing the work. Very worrying. They should be throwing billions at this on a party level rather than fucking around with tiny teams funded by individual candidates who aren’t techies. And I don’t mean some startup that hires people in Idaho or Kansas. Hire conservatives in tech hubs, have them work on different approaches, integrate constantly to produce things of value to campaigns. Share data. Share libraries. Share tools. The establishment can actually make themselves useful here.

    2) I think the best way to fuck Google/Facebook/etc is for the Republican party to become massively pro-privacy. Their business models are all basically built on top of invading people’s privacy to sell them ads and to sell their personal info to marketers. Put huge legal walls around everyone’s personal data (which will sell great to the general public post-Snowdon) and if you did it right, you would punch a huge hole in their bottom lines. You want to put the fear of God into them? Tank their stock price.

  2. IMO About the only ‘social media’ smart thing the NRA did was get ‘non-traditional media’ (iow bloggers) involved in spreading the word. And that was 8 years ago and pretty much ILA only. GO actively resisted talking to me and I never even heard from the PVF.

    Things have moved on.

    Their website is still horrible. Their FB and twitter presence is minimal and I have no idea if they’re active on Pinterest, Reddit, etc.

    1. PVF is just an entity. It’s NRA’s PAC, so that’s all controlled out of ILA. But campaign finance laws require money to be spent and raised through the PAC rather than NRA directly.

      Their FB presence is much improved. What I’m talking about is more than outreach. I’m talking about data mining and analysis, so that NRA knows how to target their members, and get them out on election day as volunteers ideally, but at least as voters.

      To be honest, I wouldn’t tell them to bother with reaching bloggers today. The field is dominated now by commercial interests who are more interested in that than they are in really engaging with the issue or NRA, short of what it could do for them money wise. There are big stories I’ve passed on because it was better to keep quiet about it, that went on to become really big media stories. I got no credit for it, and I’m fine with that. It was better for me to keep quiet. Can you imagine Farago doing that?

      1. I wish I had the time and resources to do this myself. Unfortunately, I haven’t even been able to find time to learn this stuff, let alone put it into practice politically.

        This annoys me, in part, because I’m stuck doing software development, and have been wondering how I could transition into something more mathematical…

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