Republicans continue to be right on the issues, but Democrats are leveraging their digital advantage to win elections. With Big Tech in their corner, they expect to run over the GOP in 2020.
Consider the fortune that Mike Bloomberg has reportedly spent on social media ads, through a secretive firm called Hawkfish and other organizations. His gun control group spent more on the Virginia election than the NRA did, and Democrats scored landslides there in its recent elections.
“In God we trust. Everyone else bring data,” is a slogan used by Bloomberg, who became one of the wealthiest in the world by selling terminals to process stock market data.
He announced that he would spend more than $100 million on digital ads against President Trump. Already Bloomberg’s campaign has spent $13 million on Facebook and Google ads.
Swing voters who decide elections are more likely to be using the internet than watching television. Young voters, who were credited with electing Obama in 2008 and 2012 but then did not turn out to vote as much for Hillary Clinton, obtain their information almost exclusively online.
The viewers of cable television are senior citizens who grew up watching the tube, rather than YouTube. Relatively few elderly voters are undecided about the upcoming election, or any election, and outcomes are determined instead by the voter turnout of young people who don’t watch cable news.
Obama used digital media to turn out young voters in record numbers to elect and reelect him. Hillary Clinton, though flush with more campaign dollars than she could spend, was much less effective with this group.
President Trump knows the significance of digital communications and uses it daily through his Twitter account. He gave a boost to Republican candidates in 2019 and the outcomes would have been better if other Republicans tried as hard online as Trump does.
Bloomberg’s Hawkfish has no public website but is the “primary digital agency and technology services provider for the campaign” of Bloomberg for president, its campaign spokeswoman Julie Wood said to CNBC. It will also assist races by other Democrats in the future.
So far, the results of this digital push have been extraordinary. Dems racked up victories in conservative strongholds of Kentucky and Louisiana, winning the governorships in both in 2019, and rolled up a sweep of the statehouse in Virginia.
They have made gun control their top priority, and the Equal Rights Amendment #2, in their legislative agenda in Virginia starting on January 8th. Gun control in particular has long been the defining issue for Bloomberg since he was mayor of New York City for three terms, from 2002 to 2013, where he overcame his term limit.
He’s running for the Democratic nomination for president now, which few give him any chance of winning. But he is pouring some of his unfathomable wealth into this digital push for other Democratic candidates, and this could have a terrible impact on the 2020 elections.
His news outlet, Bloomberg News, gives all the Democratic candidates an additional advantage. Bloomberg News has promised not to cover its founder’s campaign for president, but will continue to bash President Trump for the benefit of all the Democrats.
It does not help that Big Tech is also on the side of the liberal candidates, and has nearly monopolized key parts of the internet such that conservatives are impeded from getting their message out. The ineffectiveness of the GOP in responding to Big Tech is partly due to disagreements about how to react.
Some advocate that Republicans form their own digital platforms to rival the liberal Silicon Valley leviathans. At a minimum, a GOP rival to Hawkfish should be formed, and before it is too late.
Bloomberg is hiring from the ranks of predominantly liberal high-tech companies. Former Facebook Chief Marketing Officer Gary Briggs has become the digital director of Mike Bloomberg 2020, and the former Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck has joined Hawkfish.
The Hawkfish employees are working hard, as Bloomberg expects for all his companies. Glueck posted on Twitter that “this is a seven-day-a-week workplace through Super Tuesday and beyond.”
There is plenty of cash and enthusiasm on the Republican side to compete with the Left for the support of young people online. But it is less clear if GOP party officials will focus on young voters as necessary to win.
In the past, party consultants have soaked up millions of dollars for themselves by placing ineffective ads on television while pocketing enormous commissions for themselves. A GOP rival to Hawkfish would be better.
Many young voters do not agree with the extreme positions on abortion, the Second Amendment, and transgenderism taken by the Democratic candidates for president. But will Republicans ensure that this key voting bloc sees the GOP message online?
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.