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New campaign apps put politics in your pocket

A Patt Morrison producer displays Mitt Romney's and Barack Obama's apps on iPhones.
A Patt Morrison producer displays Mitt Romney's and Barack Obama's apps on iPhones.
Michelle Lanz/KPCC

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For all the ageless jokes about big business having politicians in their pockets, a new pair of smart phone apps by the Romney and Obama campaigns are giving voters the opportunity to do just that. Both campaigns released new smart phone apps this week, and each candidate is hoping that their app will help them reach more voters in their battle for the White House in November.

The Romney campaign said this morning that it will announce the choice of the former Massachusetts governor’s vice presidential running mate on their app before the news hits the mainstream media, undoubtedly prompting reporters everywhere to download the free application. The Obama campaign tried to get ahead of the technology curve in 2008 by announcing its pick of Joe Biden for vice president by text message, but the choice was leaked to the press and the text didn’t have much of its intended impact.

Four years on, there are now 80 to 100 million smart phone users in the U.S., and Obama and Romney are eager to reach them. The Obama app has many features designed to get the Democratic candidate’s ground game going, including the ability for users to donate, register voters and find places to organize and volunteer. Although it does have a donation feature, the Romney app’s main purpose seems to be as a platform for the VP announcement. And Twitter also has a new feature called the Twitter Political Index that offers an up-to-the-second look at voter sentiment, including which candidate is trending up or down.


How has technology changed the art and science of political campaigns? What kind of technology do you use to keep up with politics?


Jon Fleischman, Republican strategist; founder and publisher of FlashReport.org

Mat Honan, senior writer with Wired.com

Patrick Ruffini, digital strategist and president at Engage, a digital agency serving political candidates, Fortune 500 companies, and advocacy organizations