POLITICS: PennAve

How Republican candidates are catching up with Democrats on data

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Politics,Republican Party,2014 Elections,2016 Elections,David M. Drucker,Campaigns,PennAve,Technology,Data Mining,RNC

Republican campaigns and political groups will for the first time have access to a data clearinghouse that marries voters’ traditional contact information and history with their digital online profiles and Internet viewing habits.

Though old hat for the Democratic Party and refined to precision by President Obama's two winning presidential campaigns, this represents an advancement for the GOP as it continues to invest heavily to modernize its digital and voter turnout operations.

It’s being made possible through a partnership of The Data Trust, a Republican third-party data sharing organization, and Targeted Victory, a GOP digital data firm.

“This is about making our data more accessible to our partners,” John DeStefano, president of The Data Trust, told the Washington Examiner in an interview. “Up until this point, you could use our data for mail and phones — traditional contact — but you were using potentially a different data set to do online targeting.”

The Republican National Committee is in the midst of a complete overhaul and modernization of its data gathering and voter turnout operations ahead of the 2014 and 2016 elections. The Data Trust's role is to build, manage and continually refine the massive quantities of data on voters and potential voters that can be shared with RNC and other GOP committees, candidates and affiliated groups that are active in local, state and national campaigns.

DeStefano said The Data Trust has compiled records and information on about 260 million Americans who are 18 years of age and older — whether they are registered to vote or not. This includes contact information, addresses, voting history if applicable — the traditional kind of data associated with grassroots organizing. Targeted Victory has mined these Americans’ online profiles, including data on the websites they visit and the social media platforms they frequent.

The association with Targeted Victory is considered a first step in melding online and social media data with traditional voter contact information so that Republicans not only know how to reach voters, but have the tools they need to drive their involvement in campaigns.

This also allows Republicans to target voters online, including with advertising, rather than having to rely strictly on telephone, mail and door-knocks.

The Data Trust plans to partner with other Republican friendly digital firms in its role as the central GOP data-sharing hub.

“At Targeted Victory, we’re striving to build the biggest data marketplace in politics, and our partnership with Data Trust takes us one step closer,” Michael Beach, co-founder of Targeted Victory, said in a press release provided to the Washington Examiner. “We’re excited to leverage the expertise from Data Trust with their inventory that spans decades of election results, field data, voter files and census information.”

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