Our Tools, Our Users, and the GOP Debate

Posted by Amy LaThanh on 08/07/2015


Last night was the first GOP debate of the 2016 election season, and as we anticipated, candidates had a lot to say on immigration reform. Our 2016 Candidate Tracker proved a popular way for viewers to review what was said last night; our visitors skyrocketed 2,000% during the debates.

As the Republican Party and other organizations discuss who they think won the debates, we’d like to share with you from our perspective which candidates were the most popular on our Candidate Tracker, according to the metrics.

For the first debate, Carly Fiorina placed a strong first in visitor interest, with Lindsey Graham following. The top candidates in the first debate according to our visitors were as follows:

1. Carly Fiorina
2. Lindsey Graham
3. Rick Perry
4. Rick Santorum
5. Jim Gilmore

Amongst the primetime GOP debate, our visitors were most interested in what Jeb Bush had to say on immigration last night. Over 100% more interested in Jeb Bush’s comments, in fact, than in Donald Trump’s comments. Here’s the top five ranking from the main debate:

1. Jeb Bush
2. Donald Trump
3. Ted Cruz
4. Marco Rubio
5. Rand Paul

In addition to our Candidates Tracker, a spike in visitors used our interactive electoral map highlighting the GOP’s potential road to the White House – and it held their interest. During the GOP debate, users spent just under 5 minutes on the page tinkering with the tool.

How did you think the debates went last night? Did you hear everything you wanted to hear from the candidates? Didn’t catch the whole thing? Check out our comprehensive tracker of every single quote that was said about immigration reform.

What They Didn't Say

Posted by Todd Schulte on 08/07/2015


Statement from FWD.us President Todd Schulte:

Last night, for the first time this primary season, we heard from each of the Republican candidates for president. And we heard a lot about immigration reform.

But what we didn’t hear during the GOP debate was an answer to a very basic question: what is your plan for the 11.5 million undocumented people living in the United States?

All election cycle, we are holding candidates running for president accountable for what they say on immigration and tracking every statement they make. We’ve just updated our Presidential Candidates Tracker with all the highlights from last night.

It’s time to push past simple political phrases like “I oppose amnesty” and it’s time to demand that candidates for president answer the simple question: what is your plan for these 11.5 million people?

As the election season continues to heat up, we’ll be keeping our tracker updated with all of the latest statements so you can see for yourself where the candidates stand and what they are, or are not, saying on immigration reform.

FWD.us Launches 2 New Tools Just in Time for First Republican Presidential Debate of 2016

Posted on 08/05/2015


The first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 election is this Thursday, August 8th. It marks a milestone in the build-up of an exciting campaign season. We expect immigration reform to play a significant role in the election cycle and today are launching two interactive resources – the Presidential Candidates Page and the GOP Future Project – just in time for Thursday’s inaugural showdown. Both tools will enable supporters to stay well-informed on both the latest candidate statements on immigration and how demographic shifts are altering the road to the White House forever.

Presidential Candidate Tracker

Our mission: Make it crystal clear to voters and supporters where each and every candidates stands on immigration.

The FWD.us’ Presidential Candidate Tracker is designed to be your straightforward, go-to resource for any on-the-record statements or comments made by 2016 presidential contenders around immigration-related issues. Whether spoken into the mic of a debate or a town hall, quotes are tracked in real-time. Interested in monitoring the words of a particular presidential hopeful? We can help…Users have the option to subscribe to receive daily updates on the candidates of their choosing.

In preparation for Tuesday’s launch, we have built out a comprehensive list of statements from all of the currently-declared Democratic and Republican 2016 presidential contenders, and will regularly update the page as candidates continue to weigh in on critical issues of reform.

Learn more about the Presidential Candidate Tracker here.

GOP Future Project

Our mission: Visualize key demographic shifts in the American electorate over time that will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the outcome of the 2016 election – and those to come.

Publicly-available data reveals that changing demographics in key presidential election states could have serious implications for the GOP’s long-term electoral success. Latinos and Asian-Americans represent the fastest growing voting blocs in the country; Over the past ten years, these voters have increasingly shifted their support away from the Republican Party.

With the GOP Future mapping tool, you can pave the way to electoral victory for Republican and Democratic candidates alike simply by adjusting support levels within each of four demographic groups – Latino, Asian American, African American, and White.

The GOP Future Project helps illustrate just how rapidly demographic changes have taken place in individual states, and it provides a look at some of the far-reaching implications these changes will have for the Republican party in 2016 and future elections.

Learn more about the GOP Future Project here.

Let the debates begin!

Relocating to the U.K.: CliqStart Founders Move Due to Immigration Challenges

Posted on 08/03/2015

When the U.S. immigration system falls short, entrepreneurs must find a different path for their companies, investors, and dreams. FWD.us recently spoke with CliqStart founders Areti Kampyli, a Greek citizen, and Raphaël Mazet, a French and British dual citizen, about their immigration challenges in the U.S. and how an inflexible system ultimately caused them to relocate the company to the U.K. 

FWD.us: Tell us a little bit about yourselves – where are you both from and how did you meet?

We met ten years ago at the London School of Economics. After our studies we both went our separate ways, Areti built a career in digital marketing at Ogilvy before creating her first startup in 2009, and Raphaël worked in corporate communications and government relations in Europe and Latin America. We created CliqStart in 2014 and met the rest of the team later that year at SpartUps, an early stage accelerator program in San Jose.

FWD.us: What is CliqStart and where did you get the inspiration to start your company?

CliqStart is a digital campaigning tool for nonprofits, advocacy groups, and political movements. Our inspiration for the company came from our desire to allow people to take more concrete action than simply liking Facebook posts or signing petitions when it comes to issues that affect their daily lives.

We wanted to empower people to make more of an impact on the issues they feel passionate about, and feel more engaged in the democratic process.

FWD.us: How did your time in the Bay Area affect your company?

Our time in the Bay Area was mind-blowing and opened our eyes to the radical entrepreneurial philosophy and risk-taking spirit in the Silicon Valley. What we learned and the people we met were crucial in terms of how we are building and scaling our company.

FWD.us: You both have crossed the globe a couple of times – what challenges or complications have you faced as an immigrant in the United States?

The U.S. is a country of extremes: we’ve never felt so totally accepted and rejected at the same time. On the one hand, we had an incredibly warm welcome from the people, investors, and businesses of the Bay Area. But we also had to deal with the constant uncertainty of whether we would be able to stay and build our company. We found out that the rhetoric about the American dream and the U.S. being a land of opportunity was full of caveats and exceptions. The complexity of the immigration process was soul-crushing at times and completely at odds with the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley. As entrepreneurs, we already had a ton of issues to deal with, and the visa process was a totally unnecessary distraction that ultimately made us decide to move to London.

FWD.us: What are the biggest takeaways you’ve drawn from your immigration experience?

We were discouraged by the lack of transparency of the whole process, which seemed arbitrary, bureaucratic, and very expensive – definitely not compatible with the bootstrapping mentality of a fledgling startup. We paid quite a lot for lawyers to assess our chances, and tell us that it would likely take a lot of money and time to apply for any of the available visa options, but that even then our chances were slim. Even just trying for a 6-month visa for Raphaël failed, because someone going to the United States for half a year to build a company was judged “too risky” by the immigration officers. After that, we decided the effort and money needed to obtain a visa just wasn’t worth it.

FWD.us: From your perspective, how can the U.S. immigration system be improved?

It needs to be more transparent about its application criteria, and be more flexible and modernize how it assesses aspiring immigrants. It also needs to come to terms with the entrepreneurial and risk-taking spirit that the U.S. has created, by giving easier visa options to entrepreneurs. It seems that the immigration system is frozen by the fear of immigrants coming into the country to leech off the system, but the result is that the U.S. is limiting its ability to attract and invest in foreign talent that will create jobs in the country.

We feel that the Bay Area invested a lot of time in educating us about how to create a successful startup, but didn’t capitalize on it, because that knowledge is now benefitting the U.K.’s tech sector.

FWD.us: Why should people in the tech community, and beyond, get involved on this issue?

First and foremost, it’s about the survival of the Bay Area as the world’s leading tech hub because attracting talent is what fuels the whole ecosystem. We know too many people that were offered an engineering job in Silicon Valley but can’t make it into the country because of the immigration system. We also know too many entrepreneurs, like ourselves, who have had to let go of their dream to build a startup in the U.S., and who instead are making the most of the opportunities they have in Europe. We were surprised about how quickly the startup scene is changing in London, for example. It seems like every year it is becoming more robust, and more appealing to entrepreneurs who would otherwise have decided to try their luck in the U.S.

Learn more about the work we’re doing at FWD.us to advocate for the Entrepreneurs Pathways program, a new visa for entrepreneurs.