The U.S. digital firm that helped engineer AfD’s historic victory

As readers of this blog well know, I have a handful of main interests as I report from the European campaign trail this year. Primarily, I’m focused on the success or failure of right-wing populist parties across the continent—but I’m also continually fascinated by any and all attempts to bring U.S.-style campaign tactics to Europe. (This was something I was interested in here in Germany in 2013, as well as earlier this year with Emmanuel Macron’s organizing tactics in France.)

Here in Germany, those interests converged for this story about Harris Media, an Austin-based GOP digital firm that helped Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland harness its strong online presence to become the third-strongest party here.

Part of that involved running a U.S.-style attack campaign against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, particularly over her decision to admit more than a million refugees into Germany; part was around the party’s strategy to convince voters that it was socially acceptable to vote for AfD, a particularly complicated issue given German voters’ often visceral reaction to the far right. It was a really interesting piece to report out, particularly in light of how well AfD ultimately performed on Sunday.

I also wrote about the results and what AfD’s performance means for German politics the day after Election Day here, for the GroundTruth Project — a piece you can read here.

“Merkel, the Oathbreaker”: the AfD oppo site from US-based firm Harris Media (screenshot)