A secretive group led by Stanford University academics has unleashed millions of dollars in political spending from Silicon Valley and is now convincing some of its biggest donors to spend millions more to back Democrats in 2020.
Mind the Gap, a network formed less than two years ago, has been quietly routing millions of dollars to Democratic candidates and groups across the country in the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, emerging as a new power center in the Silicon Valley political scene. It’s just that so far, it has avoided public detection.
The group’s success is due in large part to how it speaks the language of Silicon Valley, donors and operatives say: In 2018, Mind the Gap pitched donors on a statistical model that tried to assess the precise impact of each additional dollar on the chance that Democrats would win the House of Representatives — as opposed to funding the easiest seats to flip. It’s an approach one donor called the “Moneyball of politics.”
That supposed secret sauce has ushered in more than $20 million in new political spending from tech leaders and others who are grappling with how to best use their wealth in the age of Donald Trump, according to Mind the Gap’s claims in materials seen by Recode. And the group has proven to be yet another way for Silicon Valley donors to spread their influence across the US at a time when many in the Democratic Party want to see Big Tech’s power abated rather than expanded.
Mind the Gap, whose efforts haven’t previously been reported, has recently petitioned some donors for at least $100,000 to support its efforts. Backers include people like Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, San Francisco power broker Ron Conway, and a coterie of major Democratic donors from across Silicon Valley, including fundraiser Amy Rao.