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Last year, I ran a cutting edge campaign for Congress against a powerful incumbent that spent more than $2 million dollars to win. Although I lost, my campaign achieved a cost-per-vote of $2.60, which is an entirely unheard of number in a competitive congressional race in New Jersey.
I realized the methodology we had developed was groundbreaking and decided to figure out a way to create technology that would make efficiency numbers like the ones we accomplished possible for campaigns across the country. From that decision, my firm was born.
Partic is about solving arguably the most important challenge for any campaign: how to spend money more efficiently. Of the few good political technology options, nearly all of them address tactical concerns, which is to say: How do we knock on doors more efficiently? Or, what’s the best way to make phone calls? And so on.
Virtually no political software deals with strategic efficiency, and that is where Partic thinks the future of political technology is. Yes, we believe our phone and field applications will be industry leading tactical software options, but our hub platform will break ground in political strategy software.
We have big goals for Partic. But like with any start up, there are major challenges. In politics in particular, there are unique hurdles for innovating and selling technology:
One of the biggest challenges in making this idea a reality has been actually creating the complete advanced integrated platform. Hundreds of hours of development from multiple very smart engineers has been necessary so far and we are only half way to our finished product that we anticipate releasing in the spring. Unlike other industries where beta users are typically easy to find for a reduced cost, in politics, no campaign wants a sub-optimal product or to be a guinea pig.
Although in most industries, there’s an element of churn as businesses go bankrupt or customers cycle in and out of the market, in politics churn is extreme. No less than half of the potential customers entirely exit the market every year. The other half, by virtue of them winning, tend to believe they don’t need to do anything different in subsequent elections as their fundraising and traditional advertising will carry them. Convincing these customers, the ones with the deepest pockets, that innovation and efficiency is not only good for their war chest but also good for their reputation and interaction with voters, is often a tough task. It’s also a task that likely requires going through the DNC/RNC.
Now, all those new customers every cycle tend to have little idea what they need and are often very cautious to spend their small budgets on tools rather than lawn signs and whatever other hokey stuff their uncle told them to buy.
Again, some industries are cyclical in nature, but politics is the extreme. Every odd year, the number of races drops by 90 percent. On top of that, whether targeting an on or off year election, there’s a very tight sweet spot to sell a potential client: between one month after they file and two months before their primary date. Typically, after a campaign wins their primary, they are going to stick with their methodology. Yes, some campaigns will want last minute changes or boosts, but the reality is most campaigns need to be met during that very short window very early in the cycle. So, rather than it being a whole year on and a whole year off as it might appear on paper, the industry is really about 3-5 months on as primaries roll in on years and 2 more months in off years.
We started out with the goal of providing cutting-edge software to any campaign that wanted our help as long he or she wasn’t a candidate any of our partners had major personal ideological problems with (far right or corrupt). But we realized a strategy like this just wouldn’t be possible so we now only offer Partic to Democratic and Independent campaigns.
We had to pick a side, and all of our partners fall on the left side of the spectrum, so it was a no brainer. Especially now, as Democrats leaned heavily on their partisan software during the last few election cycles and have been soundly beaten across the country from the local all the way to federal level. Liberals need new technology and fast. The old technology doesn’t need to be replaced, but rather it needs to be added to. We believe Partic is the right solution.
I ran for office to make a difference in my community. I created a political software company for the same reason, but rather than only making in a difference in my community, I hope to be able to make a difference for our nation.
Alex Law is the founder of Partic, a digital outreach platform for campaigns.