Political campaigns

Florida political campaigns struggle to collect voter data

Political groups say the importance of voter data increases as campaigns target demographics. But Florida’s growing electorate presents challenges.

TAMPA, Fla. — Ahead of the August primaries and November elections, you’re sure to be targeted by more than a few direct mail or ads. Often, this message does not come to you randomly.

Once filed, with few exceptions, all voter registration information is public record, including your name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, phone number, and email address. mail.

This information, in turn, is used by political groups to target you with targeted messages or campaigns they think you would support.

“I think the importance [of data] is increasing dramatically year over year,” said Justin Kemp, RNC’s deputy chief data officer. Kemp is in Tampa this week to meet with local campaign officials and teach them how to use the RNC’s vast data set to run effective and efficient campaigns. .

According to Kemp, the RNC has been collecting data across the country since 2012, which is made freely available to Republican candidates.

“If data is the foundation on which the house is built, the RNC wants to make sure it’s the strongest foundation possible,” Kemp said.

RNC data is based on voter registration data, grassroots efforts and consumer data collected online.

“We focus on creating the best baseline data set possible, and then empowering campaigns to make the strategic decisions,” Kemp said. “That’s the power of our system, because everyone feeds off the same data source, each campaign helps each other with the contacts they make, with the work they do, so there’s no no wasted effort.”

Florida Democrats are also leaning on voter data to craft campaign strategies. Ferguson Yacyshyn, director of the Florida Coordinated Campaign, said in a statement:

“In 2022, the Florida Democratic Party trained hundreds of activists and volunteers to use our state-of-the-art data systems to ensure we are able to meet voters where they are. Our goal is to let people know that Republicans want to raise taxes and cut benefits for working families and seniors, and we are continually expanding our data systems in coordination with campaigns across the state. to make sure this message reaches people before November.”

In Florida, voter data is more readily available than in other states.

However, USF political science professor Ed Benton said the state presents its own challenges in tracking voter information because of its massive influx of newcomers.

“You throw a lot of new voters in there, and all of a sudden the math gets muddled up very quickly. So as a candidate, you have to get on board and find out what’s important to those people.”

As candidates try to achieve this shifting goal and spend prudently, data collection becomes more important than ever.

“You want to make sure you’re reaching an audience where you’re getting more bang for your buck,” Benton said.

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