By Justin Sink
Mitt Romney's campaign announced Tuesday that supporters can sign up to be the first to learn of the presumptive Republican nominee's vice presidential choice by downloading a new smartphone app.
“The first official way to learn the name of the Republican vice presidential candidate is by using our new ‘Mitt's VP’ app,” said Romney digital director Zac Moffatt in a statement. “Users of the app will be the first to get the news on the biggest political decision of the year through an instantaneous alert on the one device most people carry around the clock — their phone.”
The approach is the evolution of a 2008 move by the Obama campaign that sent a text message to supporters announcing the selection of now-Vice President Joe Biden. That approach was widely heralded as a way for the Obama campaign team to collect phone numbers for supporters that could later be used for get-out-the-vote and fundraising efforts. The president's campaign continues to send text messages to users' phones today.
But depending on how the Romney app works, it could provide even more demographic information to the campaign. Upon installation, the application asks permission to access data about where a user is located, and urges supporters to log in using social networks like Twitter. That could allow the campaign large-scale data harvesting, an invaluable tool for campaign staff looking to tailor advertising and fundraising efforts.
And unlike the Obama campaign's text messages, users can donate or buy merchandise straight from the application. That reduces the effort required from supporters when the campaign pushes a fundraising ask.
“The historic announcement is getting closer,” said Beth Myers, the Romney adviser leading the vice presidential search, in a statement. “Soon everyone will know who Mitt Romney selects as his vice presidential running mate. With this new app, users can be the first to know the second member of America’s Comeback Team.”
The campaign has not given much indication of when the vice presidential announcement will come, only saying that it will not occur during Romney's overseas trip, but will precede the Republican National Convention at the end of next month in Tampa, Fla.
The Obama team also announced a new smartphone app on Tuesday that looks to get supporters involved in grassroots efforts by listing local phone banks and events, along with allowing volunteers to canvass their neighborhood directly from the app. Of course, the Obama application will also allow direct donations to the campaign, as well as provide voter-protection hotlines and information about the president's policies.
“As we push through the last 100 days of this election, our focus remains on helping make grassroots organizing as easy and accessible as possible for the volunteers and supporters that are the heart and soul of this campaign," said Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager, in a statement. "That’s why we designed our new app to help break down the distinction between online and offline organizing, giving every supporter the same opportunities to get involved that they would find in a field office.”