In the 2018 midterms, DigiDems embedded over 80 technical workers in a wide variety of campaigns across the country—congressionals, gubernatorial and state-wides. This has led to a wealth of knowledge, generated from the ground up, uncovering the most pressing gaps in the campaign ecosystem. This is a synthesis of the spaces where our organizers observed a need that did not have a suitable solution.
Our DigiDems organizers were instructed to add value by identifying spaces where they could use technology to help their campaigns win. Most worked in field, finance, or social media—a skew which informs our perspective.
These observations were synthesized from:
a series of individual interviews with each Digidem
retrospective documents that prompted our DigiDems to reflect on their experiences
a conference after the election where knowledge was shared and captured
common themes found in the questions asked in the online forum
a GitLab repository that houses the tech tools that were built in response to gaps in their campaigns
By nature of where our DigiDems existed on their campaigns and their bottom-up perspective, this is not an exhaustive list of opportunities in the political tech space. For example, there are certainly opportunities in advertising, operations, opposition research and more, yet our observations from the ground do not speak to these gaps.
We’ve noticed the difference between a good and a great tool tends to be these characteristics:
Flexible and Customizable: Each campaign is unique and must retain enough control over the tool to be able to tailor it to their needs.
Well-Documented and User Friendly: Time is one of the most valuable resources on a campaign, and a tool that is hard to understand immediately will likely be discarded.
Built with Strong Version Control: Many people may be given access to a tool without a strong understanding of how to use it. Being able to undo mistakes is essential.
Scalable: As a campaign builds, stress placed on tools will gradually increase until GOTV. Tools must be able to accommodate all phases of the campaign cycle, and can not break or slow down when they are needed the most.
Integrated: A new tool must communicate with the existing softwares that are widely used or risk being a burden for the campaign to piece into their workflows.
Secure by Default: Security best-practices are enabled and enforced by default. These include security-key based 2FA for user accounts; data encryption at rest and in transit; role based tiered access to data; user auditing; ability to back-out maliciously input data (troll-removal).