Politics | October 22, 2017 11:27 am

Silicon Valley Democrats Mobilize to Engineer Political Movement

Wired spotlights a liberal resistance movement emerging in the tech industry.

A growing number of tech industry workers in the liberal-leaning pockets of Silicon Valley are tackling politics the way they would manage a computer software project — throwing their time, money and logic into helping Democrats win at the local level.

This growing grass-roots movement in California, now being spotlighted by Wired, spawned some groups with names like Tech for Campaigns, MobilizeAmerica, Pantsuit Nation, Sister District and One Vote at a Time. But this isn’t your grandfather’s grass-roots movement: Organizers are running their missions using data science to target to the most winnable local districts for races around the country, using cutting-edge software to organize, and crowdfunding donations.

Sister District, for example, a group that connects potential volunteers with Democratic candidates in swing districts, has recruited 25,000 people to participate in at least one “action.”

Many of these Silicon Valley crusaders have been mobilized in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s presidential victory last November.

“I come back to my liberal bubble in the Bay Area in December, start my white-collar job on the 48th floor of the second-tallest building in San Francisco, with my five-dollar cup of Philz Coffee,” McKinsey & Company consultant Ryan Ko told Wired. “And I wondered: ‘How do I stay involved?’”

Ko joined Tech for Campaigns and was assigned to help the campaign of Jennifer Carroll Foy, a Democratic public defender running to represent a northern Virginia district in Congress. His domain, along with two other volunteers: Helping Foy’s team with an automated script that culled databases of previous Democratic donors in the state for potential donations. The efficiency boosted the intake to one-sixth of the campaign budget.  (Other volunteers from Tech for Campaigns helped revamp the candidate’s website and Facebook advertising campaign.)

“I knew technology is something we could do better,” Foy’s campaign manager Teddy Smyth told the tech magazine. “But (wed) just didn’t know how to do it…I’m thrilled with the outcome.”