All campaigns these days are driven by data. From planning out the communication strategy to structuring the message for specific voters, every step is guided through data analysis. Campaigns hire analysts and consultants from data firms specifically for their data operations.
Now, not all campaigns can afford to go that route. Small campaigns have to manage these operations on their own.
How do you do that?
We have already laid out the steps to get your hands on a voter list. With a contact list for voters in your electorate, you can use the data to boost your campaign effort. Here’s how.
Form the voter persona
The first step is to know the kind of voters who would support your campaign. The message you send out depends on the voter persona.
Your campaign’s issues would be more important to some people than others in the electorate. Start by identifying the people who are directly impacted by the policies. Go through the voter file to understand what connects these people besides interest in your policies. By comparing age, occupation, location and demographic data, you can form different personas of the voters.
With the help of personas, you can create specific messages to reach out to potential supporters and donors. These messages should address what is of foremost importance to them.
Identify areas to focus on
Once you have an idea about the voters who are likely to support you, geocode their addresses to find which areas you have the maximum support in. From there, you can identify areas with clusters of similar voters.
Focus your campaign efforts in areas where you have better chances of winning over supporters. Host events, meet with voters and run volunteer activities in areas with a persuadable audience. Use the data to lay out the campaign trail so that you reach all the clusters of potential supporters.
Calculate the winning number
Instead of running a wide outreach, the use of voter data will specify the number of people you need to convert for a win.
With the help of past election data, you can calculate the expected turnout out of the total votes in the electorate. From there you can figure out what’s the majority you need to ensure a victory. The geocoded map will help you identify the areas to focus on to meet the majority. Determine which voters you need to persuade over from your opponent. Keep track of the confirmed supporters and adjust your campaign effort to keep it over the expected majority.
Use social media to connect
The data you get from the voter file is not complete. However, you can improve upon it over the course of the campaign by adding information from other sources.
One good source of data is social media. Use keywords and topics related to your campaign to find voters with similar interests. Based on their likes and posts, you can build your voter database identifying common elements among them.
From there, you can connect with the voters directly, online or through volunteers and establish a relationship with them. Social media lets you keep the voters engaged while gathering relevant data to address like-minded people.
Empower grassroots organization
The bulk of your campaign activities is supported by volunteer action. The use of data helps you delegate responsibilities among volunteers for a well-run grassroots campaign.
Volunteers can use voter data to personalize their approach when they go door-knocking or at events. Even for phonebanking or online outreach, voter data can empower volunteers to participate in campaign efforts with minimal supervision. Plus the volunteers add to the database through their work which allows you to tweak your campaign message as per the voter’s mindset.
Grassroots movements are run putting the power in the hands of the people. A data-driven election campaign is a perfect stage for running a grassroots operation.
Keep the strings attached
Through a grassroots campaign, you can reach out to the individual voter. This level of personal approach really establishes strong ties which you need to keep up until the day of the vote.
Let your volunteers keep track of these relationships and re-engage them at every turn. Data really comes into play when you aim to convert new and undecided voters. Keep them posted on new developments in the campaign. You can also ensure every converted voter turns up to vote and use the data to target your GOTV effort.
Get Out The Vote
Send out poll watchers on the day of the campaign with lists of supporters. You can let experienced volunteers take over these activities and update the lists of supporters who didn’t show up.
With this data, you can focus your GOTV to give every one these voters a nudge. In fact, it is okay to reach out to no-show voters multiple times on election day. Set up a phonebank or send volunteers knocking at their door.
You should use every bit of information on these voters to figure out what could be the reason for voters not showing up at the polls and tune your message accordingly.
Now, these are the various ways you can use voter data to run a better election campaign. However, these are not the only use cases of data in campaign activities. Political actions like voter registration or activism related to issues and petitions can also be empowered with the use of data.