What Do We Do with All These Voters (or, Problems We Want to Have!)

There are two relevant facts about the 2018 midterms that should guide the strategic choices of future campaign organizations. First, MORE PEOPLE voted. This election’s turnout, a high for midterms, is only slightly lower than 2016’s 56 percent turnout in a presidential election year. And it’s not just that more people voted. It’s also that they voted proactively, casting early ballots like gangbusters. By November 1, for example, more Texans had cast early ballots than the entire number of Texans who voted in the 2014 midterms. More than 800,000 new voters nationwide registered on National Voter Registration Day alone, a stunning number especially when we consider that Donald Trump is only president because of fewer than 80,000 voters in three states.

Second, NEW DEMOGRAPHICS voted. Nearly as many Latinos voted in the 2018 midterms as the their share in the total eligible voter population. Tons and tons of young people voted. Increasingly, these diverse voting groups are moving towards progressive candidates. The 18-to-29 year-olds who voted in record numbers did so for Democratic candidates rather than Republican ones by a 2-1 margin in 2018.  The youth surge translated into a 144 percent increase in youth early voting in Illinois. Democrats enjoyed more than a 2-1 advantage among Latinos, with 69% of voting for Democrats and 29% for Republicans.

The progressive shift is interesting on its own terms, and interesting for campaign data management services because it feels like many of these candidates were younger, with a younger support base, than in previous years, and that youth means smart campaigns will use data management, acquisition, and appending not just to get names of people to send donation requests from, but to create actual spaces for campaign activism.

Accurate Append’s demographic database allows campaigns to collect voter attributes like age, income level, and the very important category of political interests. With that information, campaigns can identify potential volunteers—not just by geographic area (which is really important; people are more likely to volunteer if events are close to home) but also by these other demographics. The database is then verifiable via Accurate Append’s mechanisms of verifying contact data and filling in gaps in contact info.

All of this can be done very quickly, with low turnaround time between the campaign team uploading files of incomplete information and Accurate Append returning the same folder, full of complete info. That quick data management thus not only frees up your time to do better volunteer management, but allows you to target better potential volunteers. In time, that success will feed on itself.

How important is that base of grassroots volunteers? Given the new demographics and higher turnout, it’s more important than ever. One of the many reasons Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was able to upset Joe Crowley, a virtual shoo-in leader of the mainstream Democratic Party, in their House district primary, was that she cultivated a DIY, “do it yourself” aesthetic in her campaign. That raw look of goodness is made possible by having a good base of volunteers, an advantage Ocasio-Cortez has pointed out more than once herself.

The result was the most successful campaign ad of 2018, and of course, a trip to the U.S. House for the youngest representative in history. And the grassroots “look” wasn’t just a look for AOC’s campaign either. When you’re outspent 18-1 and outraised 10-1 by your machine-tied opponent, you need to make your story resonate with most voters in your district. The ad was written by Ocasio-Cortez and produced by volunteers—and was also populated by volunteers. Although it’s not always glamorous to contemplate, such team efforts are sustained by data, and a good append service is vital to that process.

Beyond just the need to assemble volunteers, this huge upsurge in voter participation and registration means you’re going to need to process, correct, and complete your databases faster. All those new voters are going to need to answer surveys, for example, one of Accurate Append’s proactive strategy services. Segmentation, which the Obama campaign did amazing things with in 2012, will also be a valuable service to apply to new rolls of voter data. Segmentation allows campaigns, if they care to use it, the ability to subsequently deliver different messages depending on voters’ respective levels of support.

The bottom line is that millions of new voters will populate our clients’ communities. The only question is what to do with them, and the only alternative to getting data on them and engaging them is to not gather that data, not engage. And we all know that’s not really an alternative. Races –both primary and general– are going to become more competitive as progressive candidates start to move against traditionally conservative or center-left districts and officials. Having accurate appended data makes it easier for your campaign to figure out the right moves in those races.