Recently, I was speaking with a campaign manager of an “Internet savvy” campaign – they had a strong web presence, a campaign blog, an online fundraising campaign – and a network of web savvy volunteers working the campaign. The CM had a number of lessons learned from the campaign (and other ones served on) and talked about the future of campaigning – if the databases were really to the level they needed to be.
The CM had been involved in a number of local, state and one or two federal-level campaigns – and was not one to tout the power of the Internet. Spending money on banner ads for local races – the CM considered it a waste of time. Web sites – informative, but not necessarily going to severely impact a campaign beyond a federal seat (read: congress) or a state-wide seat (read: governor, CFO, AG, etcera). But voter rolls – registration and customer demographic data – now, there was a gold mine. How could you use the years of voting data and combine it with an Internet campaign?
This is not a new concept – at least at the speed of Internet. Campaigns of a different ilk have been doing this for years. The number of accessible consumer databases that are available for reference – combined with voter behavior – could easily help drive major support for issues that Democrats are focused on. Even if the data is somewhat flawed, campaigns have the best tool in the arsenal to gauge interest – those lovely email campaigns.
Every email campaign is either about fundraising (“Help me achieve my goal”), a major event of the day – which is issue related (“Fight the Offshore Drilling Plan”) or character related (positive or negative campaigning). By using email campaigning effectively, the open and click-thru rates can be translated into issues interest which is then coordianted with customer demographic data and thn to voter information. Tie this with phone calls – both land-line and mobile – and you have a powerful interest map hat can help in any GOTV efforts.
Political campaigns are either about feast or famine – and like any startup – it is about how to marshall your resources. Campaigns need to know where their likely voters are – to motivate them to vote at the right time. Then the camapign needs to know where their remaining dollars can be spent to draw others supporters out and/or to supress the competitor’s supporters. What power would be wielded by a campaign if a social network map existed that showed the purveyers of MoveOn House Parties lived, combined with the people who came to the house parties and then overlayed the voting records and interest maps of those same people. Now – combine phone records with frequency metrics to determine strength of ties and you have a powerful, resilient communications tool.
Think the Replublicans are not thinking about this? Are they acting upon it? If they follow the lead of groups like Yahoo! (who leverage this data targeting for ad placement) or google (AdWords), how are the Democrats doing?