On Tuesday, likely 2016 candidate Jeb Bush released eight years’ worth of private emails from the time he was governor. But as The Verge noted, the email dump also included private email addresses, names, home addresses, phone numbers, and even social security numbers.
This wasn't the first tech mishap Bush suffered this week. On Monday, he announced the hiring of Ethan Czahor as chief technology officer of his PAC, Right to Rise (Czahor resigned the next day).The campaign never scrubbed Czahor's social media accounts before the announcement, and BuzzFeed quickly found the staffer's misogynist tweets from 2009-2011. Czahor as called women "sluts," tweeting that "most people don’t know that 'halloween' is German for ‘night that girls with low self-esteem dress like sluts'" and "new study confirms old belief: college female art major are sluts, science majors are also sluts but uglier.” It's the kind of thing you'd expect a campaign would vet, and delete, well before announcing any hire, let alone a CTO (or perhaps not hire him in the first place?).
These mistakes won’t take down the campaign. But to have so many of them in 24 hours, for a still-unofficial campaign, is hardly a good sign—especially for a would-be candidate trying to prove he's fresh, not just another Bush.
Party leaders already know how a campaign's poor grasp of technology can hurt them in elections. In 2012, Mitt Romney launched bug-filled smartphone apps for fundraising and campaigning. One was supposed to deliver data on election-day polls, but often gave false information and even crashed on election day. Romney's slow rollout of new website and mobile features conceivably hurt his internet fundraising. Mobile donations are increasingly important: ActBlue, a Democratic PAC's fundraising app, saw donations rise from 0.2 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2014. ActBlue now has 1.2 million credit cards on file, and the GOP has no equivalent.
Losing the digital campaign can mean losing the election. Hillary Clinton learned that the hard way in 2008, so now she's hiring from Obama's 2008 and 2012 technology teams. The Republican field, including Bush, will have to poach from elsewhere—and maybe now they'll remember to vet the new hires' social media accounts.
This post has been updated.