Ensuring that big data successes reach throughout the conservative ecosystem, beyond simply those campaigns that can afford a data scientist’s time, is ultimately dependent upon three core ideas:
- Building and maintaining a centralized data hub such as the one the Left has with Catalist, where accurate, up-to-date and enhanced voter files can be had for reasonable costs by any right of center organization. Encouraging as many campaigns, causes and vendors as possible to draw from the same source creates a de facto standard across the campaign space, and systems can be put in place that ensure that the data collected by each of these groups is fully leveraged within each election cycle and even across cycles.
- An organization or system through which best practices can be widely shared among conservatives like the left’s Analyst Institute. Conservatives would be greatly helped by the creation of an institution dedicated to running experiments in campaign communication, and then analyzing and evangelizing those findings among campaign professionals. This organization would be staffed and advised by industry experts, respected practitioners, seasoned operatives and friendly academics.
- A robust training regimen for operatives, consultants, volunteers and even the candidates themselves, as seen in the liberal New Organizing Institute. All the data and best practices in the world won’t stand a chance against a campaign culture dominated by gut, intuition and outdated rules of thumb that were probably never right in the first place. We have to change the culture of campaigns by running training sessions with any and all willing conservatives on things like “What is MicroTargeting?” or “Campaign Data Management.”
You are immediately hobbled if you’ve got bad data, and good data is useless if you don’t know what to do with it, and even if you know what to do with it you still need a) buy-in and understanding from key decision-makers, and b) the talent to help you execute. Each of these is a critical component in ensuring that right of center campaigns and causes can become data-driven.
Alex Lundry is Vice President and Director of Research at TargetPoint Consulting