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Democrats.org Versus GOP.com

Democrats.org Versus GOP.com
[lead]Politics is big business in America. And it’s only going to get bigger the closer we come to Election Day. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, money raised by both parties has surpassed $1.1 billion so far this election cycle. This is just the money raised by the Republican Party and the Democratic Party and does not include donations to state parties or individual candidates themselves. So what does a billion dollars buy you? Glad you asked.[/lead]

Democrats.org

Democrats.org Homepage
Democrats.org Homepage

The online face of the Democratic Party looks a whole lot like the campaign material President Obama used during his 2008 and 2012 campaigns. As we wrote previously, agree or disagree with the President, he wrote the book on how to win an election in a digital world. Everything from his creative team to how he leveraged online and social media was new and unprecedented. It’s no surprise that Democrats.org is a solidly built machine.

The homepage is rather simple – not too much going on which is a breath of fresh air for most political websites. As a matter of a fact, much of the homepage real estate isn’t dedicated to Election 2016 at all – but a petition to get Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee a vote before the Senate. Other than that, a few social feeds here or there and you’ve come to the end of the homepage.

Things get interesting as you dig deeper. Clicking the 2016 link in the header takes you to a full-page spread dedicated to all of the current and former GOP presidential candidates. Each candidate is given the full treatment – an illustration as well as a cute tagline. Perhaps a little tone deaf, Jeb Bush’s tagline is “Oh boy! Another Bush is running for President.” ignoring the fact that another Clinton is running for President.

Democrats.org - 2016 Tab
Democrats.org present each 2016 Republican candidate with a hand drawn caricature.

The 2016 section features a TRUMPED section – showing the now numerous candidates beaten by Republican front runner Donald Trump. Of the remaining 3 candidates, each is given a “5 Things You Should Know” full of the unsavory narrative that I imagine most visitors to Democrats.org would readily agree with. Some social sharing options to post to Facebook and Twitter are nice touches.

What’s oddly missing is reasons to vote for Hillary or Bernie. There’s a lot against the GOP field, but little in terms of the Democratic candidates. Of course, I imagine this will change post nomination. Perhaps the DNC just doesn’t want to play sides between Clinton and Sanders (yes, I chuckled aloud as I wrote that).

For an engagement platform, Democrats.org is using BSD Tools powered by Blue State Digital. Donation forms, volunteer forms, and petitions are all powered and stored within BSD Tools. Democrats.org is leveraging Optimizely for active A/B testing on each of these form-based pages while the online store is powered by Shopify – hard to take exception to that platform.

Democrats.org Donate Page
Democrats.org Donate Page Powered by BSD Tools

GOP.com

GOP.com Homepage
GOP.com Homepage

Shifting gears to the Republican Party. GOP.com isn’t a bad website. The look and feel is a bit more dated than Democrats.org but not by a wide margin. What’s interesting about GOP.com is its lack of significant real estate to the opposition. Where Democrats.org illustrated each candidate and a list of 5 things you should know about them, GOP.com hardly mentions Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton or slightly second place Bernie Sanders. It may be an indicator that the GOP fight is far from over and perhaps they’re worrying about home instead of what’s happening across the street. On the homepage, halfway down is the RNCResearch section which does talk about presumptive nominee Clinton as well as some articles about her positions. Above the fold though? Outside of a small reference to Clinton’s email scandal, nothing else is mentioned.

The GOP.com engagement platform looks completely home grown as opposed to leveraging off-the-shelf products like their Democratic counterparts. The donation platform and online store look to be a completely custom built solution leveraging Stripe for payment processing. The store is especially well done. It’s not about moving merchandise, but funding campaigns. Each purchase of a product requires a donation to the RNC of at least $1 (in addition to inflated prices for the admittedly cute merchandise).

GOP.com Donate Page
The home-grown donation portal powered by Stripe. The design leaves a bit to be desired.

The product offering is extremely light hearted (beer glasses with TASTES LIKE FREEDOM insignias, old vintage campaign buttons, and my personal favorite, George HW Bush socks, as the 41st President is known for his taste in crazy socks – a real bipartisan position).

GOP.com Online Store
The GOP.com store has a healthy set of lighthearted merchandise from TASTES LIKE FREEDOM pint glasses to official George H.W. Bush socks.

Conclusions

Both websites have their strong points. Democrats.org features a more modern design while GOP.com plays to the base with their unique selection in the online store. The DNC is using cutting edge technical tools and actively A/B testing landing pages while the RNC has a home built solution that I’d expect to see productized for all Republican candidates in the next election cycle. Having raised an incredible amount of money, I would say I expected more from both, but no egregious errors to speak of.

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