Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is hiring an “army” of low-level digital strategists, according to The Wall Street Journal, to help spread the good word about him on social media ahead of Super Tuesday.
The 500 “deputy digital organizers” will earn an estimated $2,500 per month — more than some campaigns pay senior staff — to “to promote Mr. Bloomberg to everyone in their phones’ contacts by text each week and make social-media posts supporting him daily,” the Journal reports. Organizers are expected to spend between 20 and 30 hours per week actively promoting Bloomberg on all of their social media platforms and making personal contacts where appropriate.
“‘The Fight for Equal Rights Has Been One of the Great Fights of Mike’s Life,’ reads one such suggested prompt regarding Mr. Bloomberg’s early support for same-sex marriage,” but the message can be tailored however the “digital organizer” thinks is best — whatever they believe will sway their family and friends to vote for Bloomberg in California’s primary on March 3rd.
Bloomberg’s operation is arming digital organizers with voter registration information, as well, so that they can help with the get out the vote effort: “Helping organize the effort is Outvote, an app that lets users send pre-written texts, post campaign materials to social media and send data back to campaigns. The app, funded by Higher Ground Labs, a Democratic political technology incubator, generally focuses on pushing volunteers to distribute content. Outvote also allows users to look up whether their friends have voted in past elections by matching their contact lists with public data.”
If a voter appears as a Democrat in Outvote’s database (or, perhaps, if they appear “Bloomberg-curious”), they become a target for text messages and social media mentions.
“We are meeting voters everywhere on any platform that they consume their news,” a campaign spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. “One of the most effective ways of reaching voters is by activating their friends and network.”
The Bloomberg campaign, the Journal says, is building on the success of the Trump campaign, which urged volunteers and supporters to contact their friends and family and push them to vote for Trump. Even now, ahead of the president’s re-election campaign, those same supporters are being employed to build the Trump campaign’s contact list, adding the text message information into their social media profiles and handles so that interested parties can easily sign themselves up to receive updates from the Trump 2020 campaign.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has also used this strategy, giving volunteers access to a similar text messaging program that allows them to use their personal phones to contact people on Democrat call lists. A number of recipients, many of whom were contacted by the Sanders campaign in error, have posted these pre-fabricated text messages — and their responses — to Facebook and Twitter.
Sanders and Trump “digital organizers,” though, weren’t — and aren’t — paid. Both Sanders and Trump have dedicated bases with a robust presence on social media and both campaigns have built a reliable base of organizers and activists out of whole cloth. Bloomberg is trying to short circuit the on-the-ground organizing aspect of traditional political campaigns by simply paying people do to the work volunteers would normally do.
Bloomberg will compete against the field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, in earnest, for the first time on Super Tuesday, and it will be the first time Bloomberg can prove that his national poll numbers are indeed indicative of real support. He will face the rest of the Democratic field on Wednesday night, though, in his first debate.