Project Ivy: Democrats Taking Obama Technology Down Ballot

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Democrats have better incorporated the technology community in recent presidential campaigns.

Fifteen months after the 2012 presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee announced a new effort Monday to make the advanced data tools used by the Obama campaign available to Democratic candidates across the country.

The initiative, nicknamed Project Ivy, will take many of the sophisticated data, analytics, and communications tools used by the Obama campaign out of storage, allowing them to be used by Democratic candidates from school board to Senate, party officials told reporters Monday afternoon, as Democrats look to maintain their technological advantage over better-funded Republicans.

The project is built on top of the party’s longstanding Votebuilder database, which holds detailed records on more than 200 million Americans accumulated over the course of more than a decade of political activity. (A party slideshow on the new project uses the system’s entry for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as a model to show how the system identifies likely Democratic voters for contact: He’s a ‘strong Republican.’)

The initiative marks the return of the technological Democratic brain trust to the DNC, which has already taken control of the Obama campaign’s data files, as the party adapts to a rapidly shifting climate. Outside groups increasingly dominate political communications and ad spending, leaving the party’s to a smaller, but still important role, “as a facilitator for campaigns,” in the words of one official.

State parties and candidates at all levels have long been able to access the Democratic database, but they will now have the ability to deploy tools developed by the Obama campaign. The new options, recognizable to any visitor to the Obama website in 2012, include the “call tool,” which allows volunteers to make targeted phone calls from the web, and its targeted sharing efforts, which allowed the campaign to request volunteers release specific information to carefully selected Facebook friends. It includes “Project Airwolf,” the Obama program named after the 1970s television show, which makes it easier for campaigns to match volunteers with where they will be most effective.

The DNC spent much of 2013 testing and adapting the Obama developments on Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign. The DNC officials said the tools were not available to New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono.

The Democrats say they remain well ahead of Republicans, who have deployed millions in recent months in an all-out effort to match the DNC’s data and technology. “They haven’t been able to reverse engineer what we did three years ago, let alone what we’ll do this year,” one DNC official taunted. But even if they can match the technology bit-for-bit, the DNC believes a wealth of experience in deploying the tools will keep them safely in the lead for years to come. “It doesn’t help down-ballot if there aren’t staff on the ground who know how to utilize those tools,” the official said.

DNC fact sheet on “Project Ivy”:

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