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Republicans using high-tech data gathering to get out the vote

August 2, 2018

It’s not exactly Big Brother, but the GOP knows a lot about conservative voters.

Since 2012, the Republican National Committee has used a high-tech approach in gathering data on voters across the county with the ultimate goal of getting out the conservative vote.

In the past five years, the RNC has spent $200 million developing digital capabilities, technology, and data analysis, while also investing $250 million to help craft 2018 midterm election strategy.

“We collect information from states and counties on a daily basis, making sure everything is as up to date as possible,” said Kristian Hemphill, RNC regional data director.

“What this means is we have up to 4,000 points of consumer data on any given voter in any given location.”

The information gathered, Hemphill added, includes everything from who buys audiobooks to what type of car a voter drives or in what industry they work.

All of the information gathered is merged into the RNC’s digital voter warehouse with its more than 300 terabytes of information or the equivalent in storage to hold more than 600 million digital photographs.

The RNC uses the information gathered, along with voter contacts through campaigns and field teams to create the voter score.

Voters are assigned a score that includes how likely they are to take some sort of action or to have some sort of sentiment. The most important aspect of the analysis, Hemphill said, is how likely is someone to vote Republican or the Democrat and how likely they are to turn out and vote.

Once the data is assembled it is handed over to the political team and local field teams on the ground. These teams are comprised of voters’ friends and neighbors in a grassroots effort, on the ground, to get out the vote.

“It’s designed to be a turnkey operation,” said Dan Duffey, RNC Arizona deputy director.

The start of the ground game is the Republican Leadership Initiative, a program that identifies and trains volunteers to become political operatives.

In 2016, the RNC trained 5,000 volunteers to knock on doors. This year there are 18,000 volunteers with 2,000 in Arizona.

“It’s so much more impactful to have someone knock on your door than someone from out-of-state coming in and telling you what are the issues and how to vote,” Duffey said.

With the data points in hand, voter scores assigned and the get out the vote campaign in full swing it’s now about keeping red seats in Congress, Republican, Duffey added.

The fight over Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat is a “great” example of how the analytics can be used to support volunteer efforts on the ground.

“There is absolutely a pathway for whatever Republican comes out of the primary,” Hemphill said. “What we know is that the majority of Republican voters want to replace obstructionist Democrats. Our monthly scores taken since last February show us that Kyrsten Sinema’s message doesn’t resonate with many Arizona voters.”

The target audience, Duffey said, is people who are likely to vote Republican, but not excited to vote, or people who are excited to vote, but who have not made up their mind on a candidate.

“The advantage of the information we have plays into candidate’s hands, but it’s up to the candidate to deliver their message and seal the deal, Duffey said.

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