by Chris White
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is deputizing hundreds of Californians to post and text their friends messages supporting the candidate, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Bloomberg’s campaign is hiring more than 500 so-called deputy digital organizers to promote Bloomberg to everyone they know on social media, the report noted, citing documents and sources familiar with the plan.
The deputies must work 20 to 30 hours a week to receive $2,500 a month in compensation, according to TheWSJ.
The campaign is spearheading the move ahead of California’s March 3 primary and could later be rolled out nationwide, the documents noted. The documents also suggest that the campaign is rolling out a similar strategy that President Donald Trump deployed in 2016, according to TheWSJ.
“We are meeting voters everywhere on any platform that they consume their news,” a Bloomberg spokeswoman told TheWSJ. “One of the most effective ways of reaching voters is by activating their friends and network to encourage them to support Mike for president.”
One group reportedly responsible for helping the effort is Higher Ground Labs, a group started by Betsy Hoover, who formerly worked as director of digital organizing for former President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection team.
Higher Ground Labs has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
The group is funding OutVote, an app that helps users send pre-written texts championing Bloomberg back to the campaign, TheWSJ reported. OutVote is aiding Bloomberg in creating its social media army — the app also allows users to research whether their friends have voted in previous election.
Shomik Dutta, a veteran of Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, joined Hoover as a co-founder. She supports the use of digital marketing on campaigns.
“If you can deeply understand and predict someone’s personality that is a very effective way to do marketing and sales and campaigns,” Dutta told the Financial Times in January.
She noted at the time that their group is taking pains to not roll their intentions out in a creepy way.
She added: “We have to be careful that we are not creepy and manipulative but if you can appeal to someone’s core values that is totally fair game.”
Higher Ground Labs has reportedly plowed over $15 million of donor money into dozens of liberal digital start-ups.
Analysts are calling their attempts to use such tactics to tilt the election in Bloomberg’s favor an example of astro-turfing.
“It’s classic AstroTurf tactics,” James Thurber, professor of government at American University, told TheWSJ on Wednesday.
He added: “When you have unlimited resources the way Bloomberg seems to, you can do that.”
Bloomberg’s move to pull out the stops in California comes as Sen. Bernie Sanders is surging in the state.
The Vermont senator is polling at 32% among likely Democratic voters in California ahead of the state’s March 3 contest, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey published Wednesday. Sanders is 18 percentage points ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Bloomberg also employed the Meme 2020 project to help elevate Bloomberg’s name. It launched earlier in February and has already placed posts on one account with a meme page with more than 2.7 million followers; Jerry Media’s own most popular account, “FuckJerry,” also pushed posts for the New York billionaire.
Bloomberg’s team reportedly wants the accounts to describe “why Mike Bloomberg is the electable candidate who can rise above the fray, work across the aisle so ALL Americans feel heard & respected,” according to The Daily Beast. Bloomberg told reporters in November 2019 that he plans on spending $500 million or more to defeat Trump.
Bloomberg’s campaign did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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Chris White is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.