Technology Wonk

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Democrats Have Broken their MiniVan User Records

Technology advancement has impacted on political campaigning to an extent that it is no longer viable to campaign through speeches by train and the like. Social media and targeted ads have replaced the old ways of campaigning. Currently, campaigns are done with precision. For Democrats, some signs point towards their victory in November, thanks to technology-powered campaigns.


NGP VAN has been part of Democrats since 2004 and it has been keeping its records. Today, the number of users of its mobile phone canvassing app, MiniVan, is amazing. Democrats’ volunteers have been using the mobile app when doing door-to-door campaigns. It eases the burden of dealing with printouts when, for instance, determining which house to hit. People started downloading the app back in 2010 when it was launched on iOS.

According to the General Manager for Organizing at NGP VAN, Amanda Coulombe, the number of users of the app this year exceeded the ones for 2016 by over 70,000. The app has broken its record of the number of users logging into the app per day two times. MiniVan set the latest record on September 15 and it is expected to be broken in the course of the remaining 6 weeks to elections.


It is true that numbers don’t lie. It is estimated that 60% of volunteers have embraced the use of the app. According to Amanda Coulombe, the number of MiniVan users has increased tremendously since 2016. The spread of mobiles over time throughout the United States also contributed to the gradual increase in the number of MiniVan users. In addition, more people log on to the app in a presidential election year as compared to a midterm year. Even an associate professor of political science called Eitah Hersh attests to the view that people log on to NGP VAN’s tools more during a presidential election and mid-term elections attract very few volunteers.


An app usage cannot be used to predict winners of an election. However, Democrats have consistently used one app while the Republicans have used various apps. Therefore, MiniVan is better telling than Republican’s. The Democrats should be encouraged by this alternative data points. According to Melisa Michelson, a political science professor, the data of app users is consistent with the increase in activity among the Democrats. The professor also said that while canvassing’s effectiveness in swaying voters from one candidate to another has been questioned, canvassing remains a good way to convince voters to turn up and vote.


Technology Improves Campaign Efficiency

In 2018, the users of the NGP Van MiniVan app established a new record. The 2018 total eclipsed the user total from the last presidential election. The total in 2016 was approximately 153,000 users. The 2018 total is more than 218,000 with more than six weeks to go before the November elections. Along the way, on September 15, 2018, the app set a single day usage record of 18,421 persons logged in. The single-day mark surpasses the old record by more than 2,000 participants. The previous high dated to November 5, 2016, which was only a few days before the 2016 Presidential election.


The record number of people using the Democratic Party’s preferred MiniVAN mobile canvassing app is a cause for optimism. The record level of participation demonstrates that there is an extensive level of canvassing in motion and that it exceeds the level NGP VAN recorded during the most recent Presidential election.


– Technology Enabled Campaigns


Available technology can open greater efficiency and outreach for local campaigns. Once reserved to sophisticated national campaign staffs, applications like the NGP VAN MiniVan can enable efficient canvassing on the scale of districts, counties, and local communities. MiniVan provides access to a powerful voter database and canvassing campaigns

In a recent article in Forbes magazine, Alicia Weigel of Intrepid Strategy described the advantages to current tech-based avenues for communication including live streaming video and Twitter. She has deployed the NGP VAN MiniVan in a City Council race in Austin. The app has helped canvass a densely populated area of the city. In particular, she pointed to an area of multi-family housing with difficulty in confirming addresses and locations.


Ms. Weigel notes that advanced technology works to help voters stay in touch with political leaders. With more information, voters can more easily know what to expect from politicians and hold them accountable.


– Technology is Inclusive and Democratizing

Using advanced canvassing tools like the MiniVan has democratized campaigns. The low cost and accessibility have countered the usual advantages that go to campaigns with large donor funding. The technology is inclusive, and it works well with all types of population groups and segments of the electorate.


Here’s What Canvassing Is, Why I’m Proud To Vote, And How NGP VAN Helps

In order to beat out their running mates, candidates for political office often must canvas the constituents of the areas they’re potentially slated to represent. Canvassing refers to the solicitation of potential voters to obtain information from them, encourage them to vote for certain candidates, and even receive donations from them.


Put simply, canvassing works like this – members of a political campaign, which include the candidates themselves, paid members of those campaigns, and good-hearted citizens who want to see those candidates win whatever office they’re running for find voters typically by visiting their homes and interacting with them for a few minutes if those residents don’t mind talking to them.


Typically, people involved in helping political campaigns who cut the grassthis is a term to describe canvassing because campaign affiliates will typically walk from one yard directly to another, thereby “cutting” each and every lawn’s grass – ask questions related to demographics, opinions of recent events, thoughts on candidates in general, what party affiliates they have – if any – and whether they’d like to donate deductable campaign contributions to help those candidates succeed.

Keeping up with so much information often proves incredibly difficult for political campaigns. In today’s world, campaigns typically use software designed specifically for sorting and processing information entered into them like the above information campaign members ask such constituents. One of the most popular programs out today is called NGP VAN.


NGP VAN has been around since the late 1990s. Its goal is to provide campaigns with everything they’d possibly need to keep up with potential voters’ information, teach campaign members about how to perform certain tasks, and otherwise perform better than their competitors.


Being a part of a democracy – even if money is so deeply entrenched in the United States political system – is something that I’m proud of. Even if campaigns have to spend millions upon millions of dollars on advertising and turn to high-powered software like NGP VAN and company, voting in a democratic republic government is something I’m proud of.