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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Needed: Apps for Dems

It took me a few minutes to get my head around the recent report that 35 percent of adults, not just 35 percent of cell phone users, now own smartphones, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. More than a third of American adults, not just kids, are using cell phones to check emails, surf the net and noodle with apps.
The app world boasts a few stunning statistics of its own, including the sheer number of available apps — 425K for Iphones and over 200K for Androids, figures soon to be ancient history.
There are a number of apps that provide a broad range of useful political data, such as Walking Edge, a database for canvassers that pinpoints homes of undecided voters and supporters, custom-designed, unfortunately, for Republican-friendly campaigns. Hopefully, a Democratic version is on the way, if not already up and running.
Plenty of political consultants are offering to provide fund-raising apps for individual campaigns. From what I can gather, however, the quantity of useful partisan advocacy apps for Democratic activists could be more impressive. Much abbreviated political dialogue takes place though mobile Twitter and Facebook applications. But apparently, major app providers are struggling with questions of content and taste in deciding which ones to provide. There are a few good pro-Democratic apps, including:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a mobile sign-up widget here.
‘The Democrats,’ the party’s official app, has some useful localized features, along with alerts, events, even some issue analysis
ActBlue Mobile makes cell bill add-on contributions to worthy Dems quick and simple
You can view screen samples for the “Obama 2012” app here.
Some others include ‘Democrat News,’ ‘Democrat Quotes,’ and ‘The Democrat News App

But, more are needed (readers please add good ones not noted above). Some possibilities include a series of daily apps, among them:

Message of the day – The DNC should craft a succinct message on a topic of current interest for rank and file Dems. It could be a rebuttal of the GOP message of the day, which has been part of their echo chamber for years
The Daily Stat – An interesting statistic for bolstering Democratic policy arguments
Political One-liner – sort of ‘snark du jour’ for the water cooler
Republican outrage of the day – A variation on Keith Olbermann’s ‘Worst Person of the Day.’ So much material here that it might be hard to pick just one.
‘The Read’ – Flagging a single must-read daily article or internet post for the time-challenged that explains a policy or issue of concern for Dems unusually well. App developer Handmark has a political digest called ‘Politicaster Left,’ (as well as Politicaster Right) but the offerings seem a little broad.
Candidate of the Day – Mini-bio of a featured Democratic candidate — local, state or federal — who needs some help in the form of contributions, similar to ActBlue, but spotlighting candidates of color and female candidates to improve Democratic candidate diversity. Press a button and your five measly dollars are automatically sent to them and added to your cell bill.

The apps world is expanding exponentially, and smart phone apps have huge potential for helping Dems, more than Republicans, to optimize small contributor fund-raising, educate voters, GOTV and lobby. A commitment to meet this challenge by the pro-Democratic technorati could be a game-changer.

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