The businessman and investor discusses how he ran his efforts with a tech startup-like feel
Kushner formally took over the data efforts for Trump in June
Jared Kushner played a key role in a sophisticated, secret data operation that led his father in-law, President-elect Donald Trump, to victory, according to a new profile in Forbes Magazine.
In the interview, which is the first time he has spoken publicly about his role in Trump’s victory, the businessman and investor discusses how he ran his efforts with a tech startup-like feel, first reaching out to digital marketing experts.
“I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley, some of the best digital marketers in the world, and asked how you scale this stuff,” Kushner told the magazine. “They gave me their subcontractors.”
Ivanka Trump’s husband learned how to use Facebook micro-targeting, and social media becoming a major aspect of the campaign’s voter outreach strategy.
Kushner formally took over the data efforts for Trump in June, Forbes reports, building a secret 100-person data hub in San Antonio, Texas, “designed to unify fundraising, messaging and targeting.”
Kushner and his team took a fast-moving, trial-and-error approach to spending in states, reflecting the Trump campaign’s famously lean spending strategy throughout the campaign. This was key to victories for the Republican candidate in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best (return on investment) for the electoral vote,” he said. “I asked, ‘How can we get Trump’s message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?’”
“We weren’t afraid to make changes. We weren’t afraid to fail. We tried to do things very cheaply, very quickly. And if it wasn’t working, we would kill it quickly,” he said. “It meant making quick decisions, fixing things that were broken and scaling things that worked.”
Kushner credits the campaign’s fundraising haul to machine learning. Per Forbes, his operation “(installed) digital marketing companies on a trading floor to make them compete for business. Ineffective ads were killed in minutes, while successful ones scaled. The campaign was sending more than 100,000 uniquely tweaked ads to targeted voters each day.”
Forbes reports Kushner’s data operation ultimately made decisions about “travel, fundraising, advertising, rally locations–even the topics of the speeches,” much like Hillary Clinton’s algorithm-driven data efforts.
He became indispensable to Trump and “wants to be an adviser” to the President-elect, per campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.
Kushner also weighed in on support for the President-elect from white nationalist groups: “Trump has disavowed their support 25 times. He’s renounced hatred, he’s renounced bigotry, and he’s renounced racism. I don’t know if he could ever denounce them enough for some people.”
“If even the slightest infraction against what the speech police have deemed correct speech is instantly shouted down with taunts of ‘racist,’ then what is left to condemn the actual racists?” said Kushner, who is Jewish.
“You can’t not be a racist for 69 years, then all of a sudden become a racist, right? You can’t not be an anti-Semite for 69 years and all of a sudden become an anti-Semite because you’re running.”