Can Democratic Data and Grassroots Outreach Transform the 2014 Electorate?

The big question for American politics in 2014: will this year’s electorate look more like 2012 or 2010? If the former, Democrats have a shot at holding on to the Senate and might just outperform expectations in House races, too. If it’s the latter, however, Dems are doomed — in today’s political environment, an older, whiter electorate will elect Republicans in droves.

With that reality hovering over the political system, the Post’s Dan Balz dives deep into the Democrats’ data-driven attempt to reshape the off-year electorate into something more friendly to their candidates:

Meanwhile, Democrats are banking on the belief that they can better identify potential supporters, motivate them and get them to the polls — in essence, reshape the midterm electorate to make it look more like the electorate in a presidential year. To try to do so, they will for the first time fully employ the sophisticated tools and techniques used in Obama’s presidential campaigns to aid Senate and some House candidates.

It’s an excellent piece, well-sourced and full of specifics about the players and the tools they’re using. No mention of that old shibboleth of political data reporting — the mythical targeting-by-magazine-subscription that shows up too often in stories in the mainstream media. Instead, we get plenty of talk about the essential functions of a political campaign and how data is reshaping them. The 1-to-100 voter score gets a shout-out!

We’ve covered this ground before, of course, particularly in a couple of recent TechBytes columns (here and here), but this is by far the best treatment of the Democrats’ data-driven 2014 campaign I’ve yet seen in the mainstream press. Nice work!


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Colin Delany
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