Obama vs. Romney iPhone app comparison

During the last election four years ago, Barack Obama was the clear winner of smart social media strategy, and that approach got him a victory. This time around though the advantage is not that big, and both candidates have done well in terms of embracing social media and the Internet.

But what about mobile? Was a mobile strategy a game-changer for one of the candidate this time?

Let’s take a look at the official apps more closely.

1. App Store presence

Both candidates tried to realize the power of social media and the opportunities within
mobile apps. Going on the App Store alone, a search for “Romney” gets 222 results and “Obama” gets 546 results.

Obama wins in a landslide. Obama vs. Romney: 1-0


2. Popularity/Downloads

Obama has one official mobile app with 763 reviews ~4.

Romney has three different apps under his iOS developer account:

Romney-Ryan (News category) – 931 reviews, ~4 stars
With Mitt (Photo & Video category) – 416 reviews, ~3 stars
Mitt Events (Entertainment) – 53 reviews, ~4.5 stars

On first glance, it looks like a more focused strategy around one well-done app might be the smarter approach. But it the hard numbers show that Romney killed it with his three specialized apps strategy

Since we do not know exact number of downloads we can assume that Romney is a winner here.

Winner: Romney, Obama vs. Romney: 1-1

3. Design/UX/Code

Both candidates were playing it safe and weren’t too eccentric with design of their apps. Here is our analysis in little bit more detail.

Code base

It looks like Obama’s app was written in native ObjectiveC technology while the Romney app is built with some HTML5/JS cross-platform framework. You can see that Obama’s app is much more responsive, faster and sharply designed.

Romney’s app on another hand looks like an embedded mobile web site in the app. Transitions between screens are not as smooth as Obama’s app and scrolling is slow and breaking.


Obama (positive):

  • Elegantly designed and looks consistent across all screens
  • Using modern nav bar. It is not quite clear why Featured screen is selected as main screen. It looks like the designer just used that navbar layout because it is modern (Instagram), without really having a right purpose for it
  • Due to the native code approach and higher costs Obama’s app is pretty basic in functionality, but it is nicely designed and works smoothly
  • Login screen slides from the left and looks sharp. It appears when you need it and otherwise doesn’t interfere.

Obama (negative):

  • Main screen not interesting enough and more prominent navbar icon does not serve the purpose
  • Basic functionality

Romney (positive):

  • Ton of functionality

Romney (negative):

  • Design, in our opinion, is pretty lame and has some major flaws
  • It looks like some web development shop did the job instead of specialized mobile dev company
  • Pieces of the app are blurry
  • Scrolling is breaking
  • Navigation bar uses pretty lame icons

Winner: Obama by far, nice job.  Obama vs. Romney: 2-1

4. Donation Workflow

I guess this is the most important part and purpose of both apps. A detailed comparison of donation sites was already done by Tedd Zeigler. If you compare the design of donation module in both apps, you’ll notice that the Romney’s suggested amounts of donation are little bit higher, but that probably is not a big deal. Otherwise, both apps make the process simple.

Winner: Obama. Obama vs. Romney: 3-1

5. Exploiting mobile opportunity

Ten percent of all donors have contributed via text message or an app.  According to the Pew research center (Presidential Campaign Donations in the Digital Age) 15% of Democratic campaign donors have contributed via text message or cell phone app, compared with only 6% of Republican donors.

Winner: Obama wins by 3x, Obama vs. Romney: 4-1


Obama is the winner on iPhone, that’s for sure. Solid strategy and great execution in his app. Maybe mobile was not the game changer during this election season, but in the future it can become a significant factor. Smartphone penetration is getting close to 50% in US and in four years it might be at the level of 70% or even 80%. That is a huge opportunity for both sides and we hope they have learned a lot from this election.

Let us know what you think! Feel free to comment and share this article.

Viktor, ShoutEm CEO