Campaigning Under the Radar- With Good Data by Bob Blaemire

By at June 2, 2011 | 5:10 pm | Print

Campaigning Under the Radar- With Good Data by Bob Blaemire

There are two levels of campaigning that are usually taking place during the political season.  One is the broad-based campaigning that all of us can witness, on television and radio, usually dominated by the tops of the tickets.

Then there is the level that is seen by only its intended targets, voter contact campaigns.  While candidates at every level institute voter contact campaigns — utilizing mail, phones and canvassing — those candidates we might call “down ballot” will often conduct their entire campaigns at this level.

And, because voter contact can best be done by using voter files, the better the voter file, the better the brand of contact.

Good voter files mean targeting can be done right, allowing candidates to “pick their cherries where the cherries are”, targeting the right voters, and can improve the chance that the assumptions made about the messages to deliver to those targets are accurate.  The more we know about our voters, the better we can communicate with them.  So it stands to reason if a campaign wants to send variable forms of communication to targeted voters, the more they know about those voters, the better they can formulate those various messages.

Those of us who work in the business of providing voter file data to political candidates and organizations take this aspect of politics very seriously.  Our efforts are to constantly tweak our voter lists to make them better and better, to append useful data that will allow our clients to not only target accurately and well, but to have the information they need to be able to communicate relevantly with those targets.

The newest development in this area of politics has been the development of models for micro-targeting.  A company like ours is able to create models because of the vast amount of data available to us.  Not only do we have the entire country’s voter files but we have virtually all voting aged adults enhanced with an enormous amount of data.

But what makes micro-targeting possible is to have all of this wealth of data supplemented by response data from clients.  Our customers put their response data back into the database, giving us a wealth of individual response items.  Our cumulative client base in 2008 gathered individual phone, mail or in-person responses from over 130 million voters.  That is a massive amount of data when combined with the rest of the information appended to the 285 million voting age Americans and serves as the ingredients that allow us to create these predictive models.

The models I am referring to include a national partisan model, a turnout model, marriage model, models indicating the likelihood of being a gun owner or hunter or someone who goes to church regularly, and many, many more.  To be able to overlay these models atop the rest of the political and demographic data allows our clients to target with enormous precision and to have a wealth of options for formulating messages.

An example of how this data may be used was the 2009 campaign in New Jersey.  The Democratic Assembly Caucus Campaign Committee targeted the large proportion of New Jersey voters who have not registered by Party.  Zeroing in on the likely Democrats, using the partisan model, and those likely to vote, using the turnout model, ended up with them not only contacting the right voters but effectively holding back the tide of anti-Democratic vote in 2009.  None of their incumbents lost and only one open seat went to the GOP.  These two models were the tools they needed to implement a successful voter contact campaign down ballot.

All of this means that the ability of down ballot campaigns to run effective “under the radar”  voter contact campaigns is better than ever.  You no longer have to be at the top of the ticket to run first class campaigns.

Bob Blaemire, Director of Business Development, Catalist, LLC a comprehensive national database of 285 million voting aged Americans that can be micro-targeted to give candidates the voter data they need to win elections. Our massive data base includes voter files from every state plus commercial records of eligible voters.  It is constantly being updated with telephone matching, commercial, census data and individual responses.                  202/962-7204       202/962-7204 

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