Google Exec Turns Political to Aid GOP Tech Group

Monday, 27 Jan 2014 12:43 PM

By Melanie Batley

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A top Google executive has aligned herself with a company developing campaign technology for Republicans, the most recent sign that Google intends to expand its political involvement beyond its traditional allegiance to Democrats.

Michele Weslander Quaid, Google's chief technology officer, is joining the board of directors of Voter Gravity, a GOP company that uses voter data to mobilize supporters and develops applications for sophisticated campaign micro-targeting, Politico reports.

"She brings Google's belief that if you focus on the user, all else will follow," Voter Gravity CEO Ned Ryun said in a statement, according to Politico.

Google has recently stepped up efforts to make links with the GOP in other ways, including making donations to conservative groups and hiring a number of Republicans to liaise with the press and politicians.

Weslander Quaid spent a decade working as an engineer and data scientist in both the private and public sectors, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

She is a registered Republican but this will mark the first time she will be making a contribution to politics, Politico reported.

The Republican Party has been focusing on the development of campaign technology, playing catch-up to the Democrats whose data sophistication has been considered a significant factor in the success of both of Obama's presidential campaigns.

After the GOP's 2012 losses, the RNC said in its post-election autopsy report that the party should focus on "the establishment of a new culture driven by data, technology, analytics, and personal contact," according to Politico.

A number of conservative tech firms have sprung up in recent years to provide services to conservative candidates and groups, with the collective aim of helping the GOP diminish its technology disadvantage.

Weslander Quaid was named one of the seven "Most Powerful Women to Watch in 2014" by Entrepreneur magazine.

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