"It does make you stand out a little bit. You have to be careful how you position yourself. You have to be careful what you say in public," Eric Jackson, co-founder of CapLinked, said during a panel discussion Saturday about conservatives in the industry at the inaugural Lincoln Labs Reboot conference.
Having taken a drubbing in the last couple of elections, I think the party has woken up to the idea of having better technology," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chair of the California Republican Party, during a panel Friday evening. "I can order Uber to come to my house in two minutes. We still don't have good apps to give me a good map to walk precincts on a weekend."
Lincoln Labs is one of several efforts born in the aftermath of the 2012 election, which set off tsunami warnings in GOP circles because of the Democrats' stark advantage in the use of technology and data. The Republican National Committee is spending $17 million on efforts to modernize its technology and use of data, with mixed reviews.
The founders of Lincoln Labs said they saw the need firsthand when their technology efforts were rebuffed by some party and campaign officials in 2012.
They face obstacles in their current endeavor: One of Lincoln Labs' first hackathons had to switch locations when employees of the firm that had planned to host it complained about the group's backing by entities related to the Koch brothers, two wealthy donors who give money to conservative causes.The iron law of emulation kicks in:
Bret Jacobson, co-founder of the digital advocacy firm Red Edge, said conservatives need to understand what the left did well, create their own digital approaches, and replicate them across the party and campaigns.
"We view 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 as a continuum, and a process the right will go through culturally, and then we'll be able to judge whether it worked," he said during a panel discussion Saturday.