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Go Big with Political Technology

Political campaigning involves an ever-increasing cacophony of activities throughout the course of an election cycle. To emerge from this tornado with a victory, each campaign must leverage a vast variety of tools and skills – fundraising, messaging, public speaking, advertising, on-the-ground organizing, and coalition building. Technology has the ability to build each of these into a force multiplier.

As the Chief Operating Officer at Voter Gravity, I lead the product development team building a next-generation web and mobile application that turns data into votes. Last week I was honored to participate on the Navigating Voter Data panel at The Art of Political Campaigning Conference sponsored by Campaigns & Elections. It was exciting to discuss my passion: political technology.

For the last 10 years, I have been trying — without success at times — to encourage Republicans to make better use of technology and to adopt an innovation mindset —  including innovating how they leverage data. No other buzzword is so empowering, and yet so confounding, to today’s political operative as “data.”

It’s not like political campaigns are new to using data. Direct mail, of course, is explicitly built on the practice of identifying, segmenting and contacting voters in distinct groups. “Microtargeting” if you will.

But this data we speak of today is something new… Like Jack Bauer faced with the urgency of diffusing a nuclear bomb, we stare at the enormous problem before us, frantically slashing through a technical and complicated mess trying not to blow up the whole thing, and all the while…  knowing with tense certainty… that we are running out of time. Modern voter data comes served on a menu with a dizzying array of options. Would you like it with consumer information? Social streams? On a map? Modeled And you can even get your voter data baked … in cookies.

On the panel we explored the extent of what is possible in the modern campaign when it comes to the use of data. How it can be applied to connect with the right voters, using the right message, through the right medium. Getting data right IS CRITICAL to campaigns who are competing in tough races. But beware: Data is not a magical elixir to all campaign ills. It is, however, a mighty potion to identify, persuade, and turnout the voters you must turnout to win an election.