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Future campaigns require less generalists, more specialists

A staff of generalists supported by one or two in-house developers and outsourcing work when needed has typically been more than enough for Republican digital political firms. Things are starting to change. With top-shelf competition from the left that has been written about extensively, there’s an increasing need (to say the least) for great technologists who are passionate about politics, and the only way we’re going to get them is by recruiting them aggressively—from the very beginning. 

This, of course, is a tall order, as the principle assumption with recruiting conservative political tech talent is that it doesn’t seem to exist. Maybe we need to look harder.

Alongside overcoming the obvious structural issues impeding our party’s tech infrastructure, here are a few ideas on how Republican political professionals can make that happen today:

  • Scholarships from the party and GOP tech firms (both of whom, as opposed to campaigns, caoffer the promise of employment longer than an election cycle) to right-leaning Computer Science students who agree to placement in a Republican firm or institution after graduation. This one is hard because it’s a four year investment at the very least.
  • Taking a play from OFA, mining through Republican donors to recruit ideologically compatible existing tech talent.
  • Collaboration between top industry thinkers in generating meta ideas and institutions that make a political career a compelling  and realistic choice for talented CS students (or, for that matter, a technical career compelling for talented young conservatives). This one is very hard for very obvious reasons.

TL;DR: To overcome the talent gap, instead of simply hiring non-political developers to support political generalists, let’s consider how to get creative in investing in a new breed of young talented operatives who know how to both dream and create.

James Barnes is a social strategist at Campaign Solutions, a digital media agency in Alexandria, VA