Campaign tips: Micro-targeting voters – it’s all about the data

Political campaigns have traditionally relied on census data — a voter’s history of turnout, demographic data such as age or race and party registration — to form their strategy for success. This approach has worked for decades, but this data is hardly effective in drawing a clear picture of the voter.

For example, if a district is predominately Democratic or Republican, the dominant party reaches out to its so-called “super-voters” — those who vote in all elections, even municipal ones. The voters often left on the table are “independents” or, in Florida’s case, non-party affiliated voters, called NPAs in political parlance.

In Florida, NPAs cannot vote in a primary, but they vote in large numbers in general elections. Both parties have a history of ignoring NPA voters at their own peril and demise.

Micro-targeting voters is a great way to get a clearer picture of a voter, especially the NPA. There are many databases available for campaigns to purchase that report voter’s likes, dislikes and interests. These databases can help indicate which way both independent and partisan voters are likely to lean in an election. Partisan voters will sometimes cross party lines if a candidate’s message resonates with them.

Are they gun owners? Do they drive hybrid vehicles? What’s their religion? Do they like dogs or horses? Do they own their own homes? Do they have children? Have they ever donated to political campaigns?  What magazines do they read?

By comparing and combining databases to a voter file database, a picture will emerge to help a campaign better communicate with that voter.

Some political mail print companies have the ability to customize mail pieces to micro-targeted groups. A campaign can have the same basic logo and graphics in the mail piece, then print a specialized message to a group in the main body of the mailer, based on the interests gleaned from the data.

A campaign can print a specialized QR code on its mail pieces to target a voter’s interest. The QR code can point to a page on the campaign website that links to a message tailored toward that voter.

This provides a campaign an opportunity to reach voters it may have otherwise missed, while sending an identifiable message to the voter. This can ultimately turn undecided voters into votes.

Campaigns should ensure their data provider knows how to do micro-targeting and understands what the data is saying. They should use print vendors that can handle customized and micro-targeted mail.

Elections are really just math. They can be won or lost by a miniscule number of votes. Capturing every possible vote puts the candidate on the path to a winning outcome.

There’s an old saying: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” I disagree. From my perch, I think the data is.

Resources for Campaign Ideas:

Winning Campaigns Online Magazine

Campaigns & Elections Magazine


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