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article imageOp-Ed: Jones win in Alabama aided by a crowd-sourced funding platform

By Ken Hanly     Dec 15, 2017 in Technology
Montgomery - Democrat Doug Jones used online funding to support his campaign and relied on a platform called ActBlue. Crowdfunding is nothing new in politics and specialty platforms such as ActBlue are increasing in number.
An article in Techrepublic suggests that the way the campaign was funded "represents a sea change in the digital transformation of politics." The article notes that ActBlue had raised more than $474 million in 2017 and had a record number of donations. Unfortunately it is not made clear if these donations were all for the Jones campaign
As far back as 2004 Howard Dean made use of certain crowdfunding practices and also social media platforms to drive his campaign.
Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008 also used crowdfunding techniques and social media. Obama also used You Tube.
Techrepublic claims: "Social media and online fundraising are now almost foundational in political campaigns, and big data is emerging as the next tech trend that will further drive its digital transformation."
In the 2016 campaign big data gave insights into how much candidates were raising, voter sentiment and much more. A firm called CFB strategies raised about $92 million during the 2016 campaign.
Techrepublic suggests that AI is the next logical step in analyzing big data in politics. However, such technology could create cyber-security problems
However, both main parties can use these techniques and they have been around for a long time. There is little evidence that any special new technology was crucial to the victory of Jones.
ActBlue
ActBlue is a US political action committee that was established over decade ago in 204. It is a platform designed to raise money on the internet for Democratic Party candidates of their choice. However, it does not endorse any individual candidates.
By the 2014 election cycle more than 445 federal candidates and committees used the service. Campaigns pay a 3.95 percentage of donations to fund the platform.
On April Fool's Day 2008 ActBlue announced it would begin collecting donations for US candidates in Euros due to the falling value of the US dollar.
Democratic super PAC Highway 31
Highway 31 is a political action committee(PAC) specifically designed to collect funds and otherwise help the Doug Jones campaign. Highway 31 connects the cities of Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile.
In the final weeks of the campaign Highway 31 spent $4.1 million compared to just $1.3 spent by outside groups backing Moore.
It was surely these funds collected through a traditional PAC that had as much or more influence on the election of Jones over Moore as the ActBlue funds.
Roy Moore was a poor candidate
Moore not only faced accusations of sexual misconduct with three teenagers, including one who was 14 at the time of the incident when Moore was in his thirties, but was elected to be Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court only to be removed. He was elected a second time and was suspended then resigned. This is not exactly a stellar record.
Moore is strongly supported by Steve Bannon the nationalist, a thorn in the side of establishment Republicans. Some establishment Republicans refused to support Moore and no doubt many Republican voters just did not vote. Some probably even chose the Democrat Jones as the "lesser of evils".
In contrast, Jones was a highly attractive candidate for progressive voters. Jones was one of two prosecutors who were able to obtain a conviction in the case of two KKK members who were involved in the September 1963 bombing of a church which left four young girls dead. The conviction was almost 40 years after the event.
Jones believes in climate change and abortion rights positions that would attract funding from liberals not only in Alabama but widely throughout the U.S. Here was an opportunity to turn the tables on the Republicans, and especially Bannon and Trump.
Voting results
Jones won because of the huge vote in his favour by black voters and also because Democrats did better than earlier elections and Moore was simply unable to keep the votes that Trump had gained even though he had Trump's support. However the vote was close. CNN exit polls showed Jones winning 49.9 percent of the vote and Moore 48.4 percent. Write-in candidates received 1.7 percent of the vote.
It is not close enough for an automatic recount but Moore has yet to accept the result.
Women as a group preferred Jones by 57 percent over Moore but this was only due to the fact that 98 percent of black women voted for Jones. A majority of white women 63 percent actually voted for Moore. Of all white voters only 30 percent chose Jones. It was black votes that won the election together with disillusionment on the part of many Republican voters.
Taking into consideration all white voters. 68 percent still voted for Moore and the vote was especially strong in rural areas for Moore. White college-educated women were a group of whites who voted in favor of Jones, 57 percent. Considering college graduates overall only 43 percent favored Jones.
A large percentage of white males voted for Moore 72 percent. However, two percent wrote in candidates a move that no doubt helped Jones to his narrow victory.
President Trump seemed to take the Jones win in stride and did not engage in his usual blame game but congratulated Jones saying that a win is a win. He said that Alabamans are great and that Republicans would have another shot at the seat in a short time.
Even Jones appeared a bit surprised at his win saying in his victory speech: "I got to tell you, I think that I have been waiting all my life, and now I just don't know what the hell to say. I am truly, truly overwhelmed. But, you know, folks, and you have all heard me say this at one point or another in this campaign, I have always believed that the people of Alabama have more in common than to divide us."
The last Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama was in 1992.
No doubt some will argue that the reason that Jones won was that Russia had decided that it would not intervene to help Moore!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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