The 2016 presidential campaign is well under way now that Hillary Clinton and Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio have all announced their candidacy. Even though there’s 500+ days until the election, news coverage is already a bit ridiculous (cue Hillary Clinton at Chipotle news cycle).

We are still pretty early in the election cycle so exact details on each of the candidates’ platforms are still minimal – especially since it’s  expected that about 20 more candidates will jump into the race. This includes your Donald Trumps and Waka Flocka Flames. Jokes aside, I am a co-founder in a mobile consulting firm, so I’m naturally curious to see which candidates are going to leverage mobile technology in their run for our highest office.

It seems like each election brings  another innovation or piece of technology that candidates can use to reach the American people. We’ve gone from radio, to television, to internet and most recently social media. These have been platforms that candidates have leveraged to set themselves apart. Now that Grandma is on Instagram, being clever on social media or having a “social media” strategy is par for the course.

Considering that  presidential campaigns raise (and spend) more than a billion dollars in less than two years, they seem more like Silicon Valley start-ups. Given the amount of resources and visibility that candidates have, I wonder if there is more in mobile that campaigns could be doing to gain that slim advantage.

Let’s first take inventory of what the current candidates are up t0:


Mobile Web Application

There is not much to this. Please make sure that your campaign website is responsive, meaning that your website behaves appropriately on a mobile device.

  • optimize content to load quickly on a mobile device, especially over cellular
  • leverage frameworks that allow you to recognize touch events and swipes (for swiping through content such as pictures)

Ultimate Engagement

Download the official Cruzio (Cruz & Rubio) 2016 mobile application in the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store! (Although I wanted an excuse to use ‘Cruzio’ in my blog post, I’m trying to illustrate the point that each candidate could have their own official mobile application. Maybe it’s free to access everything, maybe you put it behind a pay wall with recurring support. It’s not for me to decide.)

With the power of Backend as a Service (BaaS) and a focused development strategy you can become a first-class citizen on your supporter’s (and reporter’s) device. Meaning that the Cruzio application has access to all the same functions on your device as any other application (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)

A few features that Official Cruzio 2016 App could provide:

  • Push notifications, alerts and contextual based information
  • Place campaign events on the device calendar
  • Increase engagement by taking live polls, gather live feedback during events and televised speeches
  • Use real-time communication to have impromptu remote town halls, FaceTime-like chats with supporters
  • Have supporters submit media though the Cruzio 2016 App that can be shared through social media

Fun Features for Any/All Candidates:

  • People at an event could message each other using the candidates’ apps
  • There could be a “support tracker.” Candidates could put a QR code on campaign signs or posters, and the people who “check in” at the most signs get prizes from candidates, including t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers etc.
  • A fun photo filter for each candidate. Imagine a translucent “arrow + H” filter for Hillary that constituents could then make into a photo collage for instagram etc. (Similar to this.)
  • Candidates could use selfie sticks to take group selfies at events and post the selfies to Facebook so people could tag themselves. This would lead to wider reach of a candidate’s Facebook page.
  • Hillary’s campaign could have a running poll/upvote feature: what should Bill Clinton be called if she becomes president? First Gentleman? Mr. Ex-President? The submissions could be vetted first, but then people could upvote/downvote their favorites. And if she wins, the most popular one becomes Bill’s title for at least four years!

Empower the Campaign Workers

Maybe the official Cruzio 2016 mobile application is not ready for prime time, but candidates could  still roll out an internal mobile application to staff and volunteer teams. This particular application would be for internal use, so only vetted and registered users would have access. Gone are the days of leaked emails and strategy papers laying around for reporters to find.

This would be a tool to:

  • better coordinate tasks, leveraging chat, notifications, alerts, real-time communication (think FaceTime) and the device calendar for scheduling
  • provide current messaging
  • increase the efficiency and accuracy of gathering data (canvassing)

What about a real-time map that could help you track which neighborhoods have been visited, who’s in a certain neighborhood, and who people have talked to? You could write down small details about a visit that everyone on the app could see, which would help if you’re trying to personalize communication to that constituent.

Data, Data, Data

Data is king…or queen. Obama’s campaign proved that mining data is important and can provide the edge you need to know where to efficiently place your resources. Both of the application strategies listed above how great data-gathering potential. I am sure that each candidate has a data scientist with a Ph.d. but having new data points that only a mobile application could provide might be the slight advantage a successful campaign will need.

At the end of the day as Chief Innovation Officer for BlueFletch I eat, sleep and drink all things mobile (devices, apps, sensors, location and analytics). Since I have not seen a strong mobile component used in a presidential race, I am left curious and wondering if a true mobile strategy will be leveraged in the 2016 Presidential race.


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Richard Makerson

Richard Makerson

Managing Partner - As the co-founder of BlueFletch, Richard is a Technical Manager with skills in Mobile, Microsoft .NET, and J2EE Application Development. Richard has also trained, deployed, and supported multiple application tiers across complex production environments. He has extensive technical experience in native, cross-platform and web-based mobile application development. Richard holds a BS in Computer Science from Morehouse College.