The ascendance of the so-called “hard right” in the US and the Trump administration’s work to protect its power means it’s unlikely the movement will be beaten by Democrats or left leaning parties at this point. The power of the hard right in red-states has become
institutionalized. So perhaps the answer is, instead, empowering traditional Conservatives who are passionate about public education and the environment to take power back in Republican party primaries? That could tilt the balance in a more centrist direction.
Value Voting, which is graduating as part of the Y Combinator programme, develops political targeting software for advocacy groups. They show leaders which of their members are voters, how many votes they need to flip an election, and help them form alliances to get the votes they need to win.
Here’s their thinking:
Turnout for party primaries in midterm years is extremely low (10-14% of registered voters). Using Value Voting, advocacy group leaders share anonymized voter data with allies to know which elections they can influence, find candidates to run in those elections, and coordinate messaging across alliances.
The startup is in part borne out of the experience of cofounder James Vaughan, who worked in Congress in 2009. At that point Democrats were getting roasted on Obamacare. Republicans were unwilling to compromise because to do so had become a political liability in the primaries. This loss of compromise between parties is clearly damaging pragmatic politics and thus its ability to deal with the complex problems the country faces.
In terms of traction, groups with a total of 530,000 voters are using the platform. Three alliances have been formed – with 290,000 anonymized voter profiles shared.
How does it work?
Well, the “user”, an advocacy group leader, receives an e-mail invite from an ally. After signup, the user joins the alliance and uploads their member data. Value Voting then matches the member data with the voter file – assigning each member a “voter type.” Then they anonymize this voter data and add it to the alliance totals. For example, the user will now know that across the alliance, they have 4,000 unique Republican primary voters in a district and it will take 7,000 votes to win the next election.