Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Campaigns mine Twitter, Facebook & other social media profiles for votes

Joe Green, president and co-founder of NationBuilder

Courtesy of Joe Green

Joe Green is president and co-founder of NationBuilder, a company that helps campaigns and organizations connect with voters using social media and voter registration records.

So, you clicked "like" on that Facebook ad showing Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and his dog? Guess what? You "opted in" to his 50th District Assembly campaign and very likely began  receiving Facebook updates.

There's been a lot of hand-wringing lately about how companies mine the personal information of social media users to deliver targeted advertising. That strategy is now increasingly being used by political campaigns.

These new political tactics marry the social media platforms you love — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — with public voter data to tailor campaign messages.

Colin Delany, founder and editor of e.politics, a blog about social media campaign tactics, says the strategy is fairly simple: "The most important thing a campaign can do on social media is get its supporters active on social media."

That's where NationBuilder comes in. The L.A. company works to economically turn your social media activity into votes.

"We power your web site, and your data base and all your communication channels: e-mail, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter,  canvassing, phone banking," said Joe Green, co-founder and president of NationBuilder. "It's not about having a separate online strategy and offline strategy, its about having a single, integrated communication strategy."

Green is steeped in both politics and social media. At Santa Monica High, he was student rep to the local school board. He then studied politics at Harvard, where he roomed with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. That relationship would lead to a Facebook app for advocacy groups called Causes, which Green founded.

Green talked about NationBuilder from the company's office overlooking Pershing Square in downtown L.A. It's in a scruffy old building now occupied by creative firms. The second-floor windows look down over the Metro station and, as Green spoke, drummers from what's left of the Occupy movement could be heard from across the street.

"We think Nationbuilder is good for democracy because it helps winning be about not how much money you spent or how many TV ads you put up, but how well you communicate with voters," Green said.


Maven's Morning Coffee: mayoral candidates debate, sales tax measure divides City Hall, DA reassigns former political rival

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

The top four mayoral candidates, in order from left to right: Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti, participated in their first televised debate this weekend.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Monday, Dec. 17, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, the proposed sales tax increase divides City Hall, candidates fundraise during the holidays, and mayoral candidates list their "biggest weaknesses."

A Los Angeles Times editorial urges Angelenos to pay attend to the March 5 election. "Knowing who we as a city are and where we want to go, we can better make demands of those who seek to lead our government," according to the newspaper.

ABC 7 broadcast the first televised debate between the top four mayoral candidates.


Can Fred Davis win the Los Angeles mayor’s race for Kevin James?

Republican Strategist Fred Davis

Grant Slater/KPCC

Republican strategist Fred Davis in his Hollywood Hills office.

Fred Davis has created ad campaigns for some of the biggest names in politics, including John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But like a lot of Angelenos, he doesn’t pay much attention to local elections.

"I’ve lived here since 1985, and I don’t remember voting in a mayor’s race,” Davis says.

He wasn’t interested in potholes and pensions until he ran into a persistent questioner when he spoke at a C-SPAN event in Culver City earlier this year. It was Kevin James, who approached Davis after the event.
“We sat down for two hours,” Davis says. “I was impressed.”

He says he was impressed by James’ intelligence and understanding of city issues. Davis has attended three debates and says James “blows the other candidates away.”  

He has another motive. Davis sees in James a fresh a look.
“Here’s a guy that’s openly gay, who’s as smart as they come, who’s an avowed conservative Republican,” Davis says.  “That’s an interesting face on a Republican to me and something the party needs to get to.”


Tony Cardenas bids adieu to Los Angeles, heads to Congress

Mercer 14447

via cd6.lacity.org

L.A. City Councilman Tony Cardenas will represent a newly created Congressional district in the eastern part of the San Fernando Valley. He will be sworn into office on Jan. 3.

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday said goodbye to Tony Cardenas, who is leaving the council after nine years to serve in Washington, D.C. 

The councilman will resign his seat on Jan. 2. The next day he will be sworn into Congress as a representative from the eastern part of the San Fernando Valley. Cardenas was joined by his wife Norma as state and city leaders spoke on his behalf in the council chamber.

“Some of us get so consumed in public life, so consumed and driven by this responsibility, that we forget the other side of our life — the family life," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "Tony’s never forgotten that, and that’s important because that’s what drives him."

Cardenas was elected to represent the San Fernando Valley’s Sixth District in 2003. That was after his unsuccessful run for the council’s Second District in 2002. He lost that race to Wendy Greuel. Today, the City Controller and mayoral candidate — whom Cardenas has endorsed — was among the speakers praising the congressman-elect.


Want a seat at the inauguration? Make a video.

Office of Rep. Karen Bass

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) is giving her constituents a chance to attend President Obama's inauguration.

Getting an actual seat at the Presidential inauguration is tough. Even though members of Congress get more than 170 tickets to distribute to the January 21st event, they get fewer than two dozen actual seats. Everyone else gets to stand around in the cold.

Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles, like most members, is holding a lottery for the standing room tickets. But she's also offering two actual seats to each of two lucky constituents.

But there are two catches: you have to make a video essay, and you have to live in her district.

You can be as artsy as your inner filmmaker wants to be, but you also have to adhere to the theme: explaining how your life or community has been impacted by President Obama and how you'd like to see his administration move our country forward over the next four years.