Political Data Wars: Identifying the right data to connect with voters

Unbeknownst to the average voter, congressional candidates, senate incumbents, and even the president himself, are harnessing big data to gain critical insight into the individuals they must target to win and hold political power.

This comes mainly in the form of data analytics, a technology-focused method of information capture that has revolutionized life as we know it. Rather than polling or canvassing voters through traditional methods, we can now glean essential statistics and insights directly from an individual’s web presence and search habits.

While the basis of the data that campaigns have used in the past was essentially what can be found on a simple voter registration form (i.e. name, address, gender, date of birth, party registration), which provided a shaky ability to extrapolate on areas like socioeconomic status, race, and community presence, times have changed for the better.

Not only are there already terabytes worth of data to mine as we speak, the rate at which this data is pouring in is increasing at an exponential rate. This makes the gatekeepers (the data analytics companies sifting through and making sense of the collected information) an essential part of every political organization’s marketing and engagement strategy. The campaigns and political organizations who harness this new method of research and discovery have a distinct advantage when it comes to providing potential voters with the most cogent and persuasive message.

This is easier said than done. In order to harness big data, which involves targeting the most relevant information in a vast sea of data, campaigns must seek out data analytics companies that can effectively assist in collecting, visualizing, and acting on well organized, pertinent data-sets. Only then will the true nature and leanings of those most important to campaigns become apparent.

Resonate, for example, goes beyond analyzing simple voter characteristics by implementing over 4500 unique targeting attributes, including issue positions, personal values, and engagement activities. Much of this is due to the fact that we can now harness data from the commercial world to add layers to an individual’s voting potential.

This includes areas seemingly unrelated to politics, including online shopping, search habits, and social networking tendencies. By analyzing this information, a much clearer portrait of the voter presents itself, allowing campaigns to identify their potential voter base in much more efficient ways. Not only can they more accurately target individuals, they can drive deeper engagement by understanding and acting on what motivates these voters.

Through an understanding the of the why, campaigns can more easily uncover the how part of the equation. So in this sense, knowing why a person acts a certain way online, should provide an answer to how they should be courted by those seeking their vote. With an informed view of the potential voter, political organizations can quickly deliver their message to precise audiences and reduce wasteful spending that was once a casualty of simply not having enough data.

The importance of data analytics cannot be overstated. Politics is a zero-sum game, so those who do not harness the deeper understanding of what motivates voters, will risk losing them as supporters by simply being slower and less informed than their more connected counterpart.

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