by Tate Ryan-Mosley

Excerpt from MIT Technology Review:

“Campaigns and elections have always been about data—underneath the empathetic promises to fix your problems and fight for your family, it’s a business of metrics. If a campaign is lucky, it will find its way through a wilderness of polling, voter attributes, demographics, turnout, impressions, gerrymandering, and ad buys to connect with voters in a way that moves or even inspires them. Obama, MAGA, AOC—all have had some of that special sauce. Still, campaigns that collect and use the numbers best win…

Data exchanges allow campaigns and PACs to share data, making outreach and messaging more efficient and comprehensive. Republicans have used Data Trust since 2013—it’s a one-stop shop that includes an exchange, voter data, and data hosting services. Democrats initially felt this was a violation of Federal Election Commission rules against cooperation between different types of political organizations, such as PACs, nonprofits, and the campaigns themselves. The American Democracy Legal Fund, a democratic group, sued Data Trust and lost … so naturally Democrats spun up their own version. That’s the Democratic Data Exchange that went live in June.

The promise of data exchanges is to let all aligned organizations share data. According to a demo given to the New York Times, DDx can produce a dashboard that shows how comfortable each voter is with voting by mail, and this is shared among all liberal groups in the exchange. In previous years, local canvassing groups, state parties, and issue-oriented PACs might all have been spending money in parallel collecting that kind of information. On the Republican side, Data Trust has proved its worth many times over. For example, it gathered information on voters who cast their ballots early during the 2018 midterm elections. Campaigns stopped reaching out to those people, saving a reported $100 million.”