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The Bizarre World of #Presidential #Campaign #Apps

In order to make any kind of viable run at the presidency, one of the many things that candidates need to demonstrate (or at least appear to demonstrate) is an understanding of modern and youth culture. This includes a strong social media presence, understanding of issues that the youth of today are most concerned about, and tech. This means more than just being able to name 3 Xbox One games, or pass some sort of emoji recognition test, it's about understanding how to make tech into a serviceable part of the campaign. How, you ask? Well, commission an app!

I'm British, I'm used to elections being a maelstrom of hollow promises, media manipulation and far too much footage of David Dimbleby pretending to understand things. The idea that anyone in the running for PM would release an app seems preposterous. A David Cameron app would probably crash every time you tried to access the push notification settings, an Ed Miliband one would likely just display the same page over and over again and a Nick Clegg one would appear on the iTunes store covered in promises that it wouldn't feature microtransactions, and then charge you to set your password, apologising all the while.

It's kind of an amusing demonstration of the difference between US and UK politics that over the Atlantic, it's par for the course now. Just to keep things nice and ordered (much unlike the average modern election), I'm going to run through each app one by one and give you a short summary, you can decide for yourself at the end if they are worthwhile or just ridiculous. It's worth noting that Donald Trump is conspicuously missing in action here, and less so is Martin O'Malley, largely because you had to take moment just then to remember who he is.

Ted Cruz 2016

The Verge
Ted Cruz's position in the presidential race is kind of standing on uneven ground at this point, but he's brought an app out anyway. It's perhaps the least imaginative, and most cynical app which appears on this list (funny, that). It enables you to keep updated on 'Cruz News', join the 'Cruz Crew' (which sounds to me like some thin facade for a rather tragic singles club) and Cruz-cially (sorry), earn points to unlock rewards. These 'Action Points' are earned by downloading the app, sharing his tax plan on social media, donating money to his campaign or, and this is the big one, sharing your phone's contact list. I listed them in ascending order of how many points you get for each one. If that sounds intrusive and creepy, it's because it is, but think of all the 'Cruz Gear' those points will buy you! Or, y'know, don't.


This one, going by name alone, is the Ronseal of things nobody ever asked for or wanted. Bernie Sanders has dominated social media throughout his campaign, at least if you're talking about purely positive publicity, otherwise it's Donald Trump. #FeelTheBern is still going strong and to further the cause, you can now download an entire app's worth of Bernie themed emojis. The free app firstly allows you to cycle through the emojis and select which one you want to share to your bored, angry friends, or enable the Berniemoji keyboard for general use on your phone/tablet. It's a throwaway novelty, but at least Sanders is demonstrating that he has a sense of humor about himself, right?

Rand Paul 2016

Somehow, Rand Paul's app manages to be the most varied, comprehensive one on this list. Most of the other, somewhat less official election apps just send news updates but Paul's is something of a Swiss army knife, albeit less useful. There's a Rand meme creator (big mistake), a 'virtual Rand' you can take selfies with, watch featured videos and a Space Invaders clone which has you playing as his campaign logo, blasting those of his competitors into oblivion. Less imaginatively, it also bombards you with push notifications every time Paul does so much as pick his nose a certain way. What it does well is to encourage user feedback about what Paul is doing for his campaign and how he could improve. How much attention he'll pay to such things is another matter, but it's at least nice to see some semblance of voter empathy in with the bad copies of beloved video games.

Text with Hill

If this one sounds eerily similar in theme to Berniemojis, that's because it is. It's a custom keyboard of emojis, GIFs and stickers, all Clinton-themed. The emojis are called Hillmojis. That doesn't make sense, Hillary. Try harder. It's different in terms of the variety it offers, compared to the Bernie Sanders one, and it's difficult to tell who actually came up with this bright idea first. The key difference is that Berniemojis is an official app, whereas this was developed by supporters. Hillary does seem to be a bit more married to the idea though, having (disastrously) attempted to use emojis to open up a discussion about student debt. Once again it's pretty universally applicable, and some of the stickers actually play on jokes that have been made about Clinton before and during the campaign. 

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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The Bizarre World of #Presidential #Campaign #Apps Reviewed by Unknown on Saturday, November 14, 2015 Rating: 5

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