Did you vote in the 2010 midterm elections? Did any candidate’s message resonate better with you? Did you vote differently than you have in the past?
Today’s political campaign strategies are quite different than just 10 years ago when election campaigns were run on simple grassroots efforts dependent on cold calling and randomly distributing flyers to the public without much of a strategy. The reliance on individual voter data was very thin, and only gathered from the public registrar or census.
With an overabundance of public data, an increase in computing power and the use of predictive analytics software, political candidates now have a technological edge to improve every voter interaction and develop a proper “marketing” strategy to generate the highest returns – in this case votes.
With today’s 2010 midterm elections, everyone from large political organizations to local campaign strategists are putting a premium on analyzing vast databases of information – voter files, election returns, census data, opinion polls, surveys, social media and demographic information – through the use of predictive analytics software. Candidates now realize that what is said is just as important as through what medium it is communicated.
And why not? With the data fully available, it only makes sense to better understand the constituency and determine the issues and messages that are the most important to that audience, especially as a precinct's population or views can radically differ from one political cycle to the next (e.g., enter The Tea Party). The analysis of this information allows candidates to better target its resources on “likely” supporters, persuade undecided voters, and help ensure citizens “get out the vote” on Election Day.
Candidates and their campaign strategists are using the software to analyze, model, and score demographic and behavioral data, along with attitudes and opinions, to find voters most likely to support a particular candidate or to reach the important “undecideds” or “swing voters.”
How are they doing this? Well, it’s no different from how traditional marketing organizations are using predictive analytics software to personally target and identify the right audience for a product or service, better understand through which channel to reach them, when to make contact, and what messages should be communicated.
Today, there is a stronger sensitivity to engage directly with voters (or customers) to learn more about what shapes, influences and impacts their decisions and intentions. For instance, candidates can now identify and communicate the right message on key voter issues, such as education, healthcare or immigration, through targeted and personalized direct mail, phone solicitation, television and radio ads, and social media.
Or, they are uncovering very niche audiences based on particular views, or an audience that responds better to campaigns over a particular medium. Surprisingly, according to one political strategist, the 65+ age group responds better to social media.
And, with a loosening of absentee ballot rules in 2010, candidates realize that Election Day was no longer 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. With predictive analytics, candidates can now better identify when to target absentee voters and “bank” the right support before Election Day.
Predictive analytics is like having a treasure map when others may be just digging in the sand, hoping to hit pay dirt. And, when resources are tight, the technology allows candidates to target limited time and money on both the most likely and least likely voters. No reason for a Democratic candidate to try to convince a voter who has always voted Republican.
So, as we look at the results of the 2010 elections, the winning candidates will be those who better anticipated dialogue with their constituents, before the competition took over the conversation.