Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Rebooting digital organizing and data structures.

The Challenge

In 2014, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was facing a midterm election in which the control of the Senate was at stake. Over the previous few election cycles, Democratic campaigns had honed the use of data at the Presidential level and in individual cases at the Senatorial level, but using data to drive a national Senate program had never been done before. The DSCC asked Precision to develop a strategy and an infrastructure to drive both online and offline goals and execute targeted programs in the field and online across key Senate races.

 

Our Work

Precision worked with the DSCC and a partner firm to build national predictive models, identifying how good of a target each voter was. We created data infrastructure and a national reporting system, allowing decision-makers to see information in near-real time. We developed a culture of data-driven campaigning on coordinated campaigns that relied on data to make decisions, as opposed to “doing what has always been done” or on an “expert’s” gut.

Because of the data infrastructure Precision put in place, decision-makers were able to have access to a depth and breadth of accurate information never before available at this level. The data helped managers identify holes and weaknesses in state campaigns and work with the teams in-state to fix them, as well as to allocate resources between states and programs within states and ensure that money was spent to ensure the greatest ROI.

Most importantly, thanks to the modeling and targeting work, we were able to ensure that the huge field programs the state teams built were pushing in the right direction and contacting only the best voters for each program. With so little time available, in such a high-stakes election, there was no room to contact a voter who wasn’t the absolute best target. The advanced reporting helped managers identify any issues and correct them as quickly as possible, as opposed to letting them linger.

 

The Bottom Line

For the first time, Senate campaigns participated in a large-scale, coordinated data program to drive the vote. We ran programs online and offline in ten targeted states, focused on difficult-to-contact voters who were less likely to vote in a midterm election—the voters on whom the election depended.

The data work ensured that the 18 million calls and 7 million door knocks made by the 60,000 volunteers—all records for non-Presidential years—were targeted at precisely the right voters, as were the online communications.

Though it was a difficult election for Democrats, and we didn’t win every race we worked on, Precision’s work kept these races competitive, increased voter turnout as compared to the 2010 midterms, and in some cases, paved the way to victory.