US POLITICS

Bernie Sanders Supporters Are Using Slack To Rally Votes

How the new platform is providing political organizers with new methods of spreading the word

Feb 01, 2016 at 6:09 PM ET

Bernie Sanders might look like the presidential candidate most likely to still own a flip phone—but his supporters are using technology to find new ways to campaign. Ahead of the Iowa caucus, Berners are organizing on Slack, a chat program that’s recently become a favorite of tech and media startups (including this one).

Slack works like a group chat where conversations can be organized into channels, and there are dozens of Bernie streams—one for coders, one for designers, several for social media promotions and others for community organizers. Some are connected to the campaign, but many are independent, put together by volunteers, a Vocativ analysis found.

Aidan King, a 24-year-old grape picker who started a grassroots Sanders group (and a Sanders For President subreddit with over 150,000 members), is one Sanders Slack pioneer. “Slack is arguably the most organized and reliable way to keep in touch with supporters and activists, and it will greatly help our ability to relay information and content to all of you,” he wrote on Reddit.

One of the ways Slack is finding the most traction is as a way to organize social media campaigns, Vocativ found. Users organize times to jump behind hashtags, hoping to hit the critical mass needed to make them trend. #CaucusforBernie spread like wildfire Monday, and its origins could be traced back to Slack channels of Bernie supporters.

“I’ve been an avid Bernie supporter and had no idea this existed, this is amazing!” one user wrote on a Reddit thread introducing a Bernie Slack community. “I want to point out that Bernie and the community are actively building the infrastructure necessary to keep the people engaged in the political process. Amazing.”

Sanders heads into Monday night’s voting slightly behind Hillary Clinton in the latest polls, but within the margin of error—certainly close enough that a last-minute burst of enthusiasm could help him squeeze into first. His supporters have been vocal on other networks as well in the days leading up to the vote: Sanders is dominating the conversation on Facebook, and a Vocativ analysis of Twitter chatter found about four times more hashtags for Sanders than for Clinton.