Is The Political Apps Boom Happening?

Tech news outlets such as TechCrunch and The Verge have been reporting recently on a new trend of politically focused mobile apps, applications that help connect politicians with their electorate. In the wake of the election and the motivation to better understand politicians, support the favored ones, or monitor their statements and votes, a new wave of political apps is now trending.

According to App Annie, the top five political apps are receiving a combined 300,000 downloads over the past three months. Among the five: Voter, VoteSpotter, Congress, We the People, and Countable, the most popular of them that according to App Annie was downloaded more than 200,000 times.

It was reasonable to assume that these apps will experience their peak time during the election last November, or during the intense months of campaigns that have preceded. But according to App Annie, election season saw only a third of the traffic it saw the three months that followed. In other words, this trend seems to be a public reaction to November 8th results and to the events that followed it.

Countable is the most popular among these apps. It allows users to track upcoming legislation in Congress and to react to it:  making virtual votes, sending messages to senators about how they should vote,  and share it on Facebook or Twitter. Countable uses zip codes as a verification system that makes sure that a user from California does contact a California representative, and not Nebraska’s, for instance.

But are we standing before a tsunami of political mobile apps, turning our phone into a voting device on a daily basis? Data from Google Trends show that there is no significant trend here. The general interest in Countable jumped at the last week of January, right after President Trump’s inauguration, but fell a few days afterward. According to the graph, the word “Voter App” is gaining a better momentum than “Countable app” hinting that the app Voter becomes more widely known, but that may be thanks to users who literally search for voter apps.

Top 5 Political Apps

Voter is an app that brings matchmaking methods into politics. After downloading the app, a Tinder-like session asks the user to express his opinion on various political issues such as foreign policy, religion or gun control. After dozens of questions, the app presents the user with politicians that matches best his opinions, allowing him to follow or support them, very similar to way matching apps matches between the users.

But a look at analytics intelligence engine Apptopia reveals a different picture. The surge in Countable new downloads (for iPhone) began right after Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, and again at the days that followed the immigration ban orders. Buy as time has passed, a tempo of new downloads went down to almost nothing.

The data available on Voter is even more restricted, as Apptopia shows here. The sharp movements in the graph probably signifying media coverage:

VoteSpotter’s data is stable, but still low in popularity with only 12,000 downloads so far. It may be too early to crown the political apps as the winners of the Trump era, but it is a sigh of progress for them. Never before has a political app achieved 200K downloads so fast as Countable so that a future event could incite its popularity again.

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Assaf Gilad

An ex-journalist from Calcalist, a leading business and tech news outlet in Israel, I'm now writing about startups for