A Dearth of Digital Staff in 2016?

Obama field team

As the presidential options for our Republican readers expand by the day (Romneys and Bushes and Pauls, oh my), let’s talk staffing. Specifically, digital staffing: every serious presidential campaign will need at least a digital director, and savvy ones will be building out their internal capacity to analyze voter data, perform analytics on their own outreach work, oversee their online advertising, data-optimize their TV buying and much more.

Campaigns can outsource some of these tasks, particularly online advertising, and some presidential-level campaigns will likely rely on consultants for most (or all) of their digital outreach. But consulting firms can’t work on more than one campaign in a primary, and if a half-dozen or more top-flight candidates jump into the Republican race, the big-name firms will quickly find themselves snapped up. In that case, who jumps in to fill the gap?

As we’ll mention in the upcoming edition of C&E’s Technology Bytes, I heard the same concern from Democrats at December’s Rootscamp, where it came up repeatedly that the presidential campaigns (Hillary WON’T unchallenged) and a couple of dozen competitive Senate races will suck up a lot of talent on the Left, leaving a dearth of experienced staff to work on races for Congress, governor and on down the ballot.

Advice to young political types with an interest in digital: get some training, fast — and experience, too, if you can. The same applies to mid-career campaigners looking for a change: online political skills should be a hot commodity in 2015 and 2016, and you want to be positioned to take advantage of opportunities that should arise. If the demand lives up to expectations, you might not need to know a whole hell of a lot to stand out from the pack. Pro tip: I know a certain book you can read to get a head start.


Obama 2008 Field Team Photo via Wikipedia/Flickr user Matt B.

Written by
Colin Delany
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