Tara McGowan

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Tara McGowan
Born1985 or 1986 (age 36–37)[1]
  • Political strategist
  • Journalist

Tara McGowan (born 1985 or 1986) is an American political strategist and journalist. She was the co-founder and CEO of multiple organizations which have been noted for large expenditures on digital advertising in preparation for the 2020 United States presidential election, including the political organization Acronym, the company Lockwood Strategy, and the media company Courier Newsroom. She was the director of the advertising branch of Priorities USA Action, which was the primary super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, and was a digital producer for the re-election campaign of Barack Obama. Previously, she was the press secretary for United States Senator Jack Reed. In 2021, she stepped down from Acronym to build media full-time as head of a new company, Good Information Inc.[2]


McGowan began her career as a journalist, working on the CBS program 60 Minutes.[1] After covering the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign, she left journalism to become the press secretary for Jack Reed, a United States Senator from Rhode Island.[3] During the 2012 United States presidential election, McGowan was a digital producer for Barack Obama's re-election campaign.[4][5]

In 2016, McGowan directed the $42 million digital advertising branch of Priorities USA Action, the primary super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.[6][7] It was the largest ever ad campaign by the PAC.[8]

Digital advertising[edit]

In 2017, McGowan launched the political strategy firm Lockwood Strategy,[9] which Campaigns and Elections magazine identified as a crucial force in Democratic Party victories in the 2017 Virginia elections.[10]

Shortly after founding Lockwood Strategy,[3] McGowan co-founded the digital advertising organisation Acronym together with Michael Dubin[8] and with Laurene Powell Jobs and Reid Hoffman's financial backing.[11] Within just over a year, Acronym had raised tens of millions of dollars for digital advertising campaigns, running more than 100 ad campaigns and registering 60,000 voters.[1]

One of McGowan's projects, called Courier Newsroom, is a for-profit media company that produces digital newspapers in Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, with the aim of filling news deserts in swing states by providing regional news coverage from a left-wing perspective.[12] McGowan's goal of creating a partisan online newsroom is partly intended to combat online fake news, which led The New Yorker to label McGowan "a starry-eyed techno-utopian" for her stated belief that digital information is the most effective way to combat digital misinformation.[13]

McGowan has been credited with significant innovations in digital political strategy, and has often been described as one of the few progressive strategists to focus specifically on digital media. Joshua Green, writing for Bloomberg News, wrote that McGowan has "gained notoriety for her outspoken criticism of her party's inability to challenge, or even clearly comprehend, Trump's dominance of the digital landscape".[12] Similarly, Ozy magazine called her "The Democrats' most dangerous digital strategist", with Nick Fouriezos writing that her efforts "will be one of the major forces shaping the Democrats' general-election fight against Donald Trump",[1] and Politico referred to her as "one of the Democratic Party's most in-demand leaders this cycle".[14] McGowan has also received awards for her work on digital campaigns: she was recognized as a 2018 Rising Star by Campaigns and Elections magazine,[10] and was listed as a "Name to know" by Politico.[15]

Her work on digital advertising is regularly cited in publications like The New York Times,[16][17][18] The Atlantic,[19][20] and Axios,[21] and her views on digital strategy are frequently quoted in news stories regarding digital advertising campaigns by outlets like The Washington Post,[22] NBC News,[23][24] and The Hill.[25]

Personal life[edit]

McGowan is married to Michael Halle, a political consultant who has worked as a lead organizer in Iowa for Hillary Clinton and as a senior strategist for Pete Buttigieg.[26][27] In the 2020 election cycle, McGowan supported Pete Buttigieg and opposed Bernie Sanders.[28][29]


  • Rising Star, Campaigns and Elections magazine (2018)[10]
  • Name to know, Politico (2020)[15]


  1. ^ a b c d Fouriezos, Nick (September 5, 2019). "Meet the democrats' most dangerous digital strategist". OZY. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  2. ^ McGowan, Tara (October 29, 2021). "Tara McGowan's quest to fight fake news". Politico (Interview). Interviewed by Fossett, Katelyn. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Allen, Christopher; Duca, Rob (February 13, 2020). "Rogers Grad at Center of Iowa Vote Debacle". Newport This Week. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  4. ^ Cawthorne, Cameron (September 11, 2019). "Virginia Democratic Party Receives $150,000 From Dark Money Group". The Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  5. ^ Soo Rin Kim (February 4, 2020). "What to know about Shadow Inc., the vendor behind Iowa Democrats' caucus app". ABC. Retrieved February 6, 2020. ACRONYM's CEO Tara McGowan, who was previously a digital producer for Barack Obama's 2012 campaign
  6. ^ Gold, Matea (September 20, 2016). "Hillary Clinton's main super PAC has raised $132 million. A third came from six wealthy allies". Washington Post. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  7. ^ Bradner, Eric (September 24, 2018). "Democratic group launches Trump-bashing $3 million online voter registration campaign". CNN. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  8. ^ a b McCammond, Alexi (October 26, 2017). "Digital-first startup launches to elect progressive Dems". Axios. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  9. ^ Chris Rickert (January 4, 2020). "With 2020 in sight, dark-money sites look to distribute their versions of the news". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved February 7, 2020. the CEO and founder of Acronym and Lockwood, Tara McGowan, a Democratic campaign strategist and digital marketing guru
  10. ^ a b c C&E, ed. (July 25, 2018). "2018 Rising Stars". Campaigns and Elections. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  11. ^ Jim Rutenberg; Matthew Rosenberg (March 30, 2020). "Trump Won the Internet. Democrats Are Scrambling to Take It Back". The New York Times. Retrieved August 31, 2020. Another initiative went more smoothly, at least at first. It was called Acronym; among its backers were the Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin, Mr. Hoffman and Ms. Powell Jobs.
  12. ^ a b Green, Joshua (November 25, 2019). "The Left's Plan to Slip Vote-Swaying News Into Facebook Feeds". Bloomberg. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  13. ^ Marantz, Andrew (February 6, 2020). "Inside Acronym, the tech consultancy behind the disastrous Iowa-Caucus app". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  14. ^ Severns, Maggie (February 5, 2020). "The divisive Democratic operative behind Shadow, the app that broke Iowa". Politico. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Levine, Alexandra S. (February 6, 2020). "DHS to be grilled on facial recognition". Politico. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  16. ^ Rosenberg, Matthew; Corasaniti, Nick; Frenkel, Sheera; Perlroth, Nicole. "Faulty Iowa App Was Part of Push to Restore Democrats' Digital Edge". Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  17. ^ Martin, Jonathan; Burns, Alexander (April 6, 2019). "Biden Didn't Rush Into 2020. The Race Came to Him Anyway". The New York Times. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  18. ^ Corasaniti, Nick (December 16, 2019). "Googled 'Impeachment' Lately? First Result Is a Bloomberg Ad". The New York Times. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President". The Atlantic. March 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  20. ^ "The Company That Botched the Iowa Caucus Was Formed Only Months Ago". The Atlantic. February 4, 2020.
  21. ^ Fischer, Sara (February 6, 2020). "Exclusive: ACRONYM co-founder Tara McGowan on Iowa caucus app". Axios. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  22. ^ Ye Hee Lee, Michelle (November 19, 2019). "Democrats, anxious over Trump's money advantage, launch swing-state spending efforts". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  23. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (February 23, 2019). "Bigger is not better. Small dollars online are gold for Democrats taking on Trump". NBC News. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  24. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (January 26, 2020). "Could Bloomberg's (huge, ginormous, oh my gosh!) money really topple Trump?". NBC News. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  25. ^ Axelrod, Tal; Burke, Michael; Nam, Rafael. "Trump unleashing digital juggernaut ahead of 2020". Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  26. ^ "Maker of glitchy Iowa caucus app has Democratic Party ties". Associated Press. February 5, 2020.
  27. ^ "Buttigieg hires McAuliffe adviser Michael Halle to senior staff". Axios. July 29, 2019.
  28. ^ "INSIDE ACRONYM, THE TECH CONSULTANCY BEHIND THE DISASTROUS IOWA-CAUCUS APP". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 7, 2020. she has tweeted dismissively about Bernie Sanders (“bernie is not the answer”) and rapturously about Pete Buttigieg (“😍”)
  29. ^ Stewart, Emily (February 6, 2020). "Acronym, the dark money group behind the Iowa caucuses app meltdown, explained". Vox. Retrieved February 7, 2020. McGowan has expressed her support for Buttigieg

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