Data, Lists, Databases and more!

While discussing our Action Solutions offerings and solutions to candidates, I find the need to explain data to most candidates, especially for new candidates.  In the initial startup of a campaign, things often start with the steps that most deem important to look like a candidate.  Things like websites, handbills, business cards, yard signs, etc. are usually the starting places.  A candidate needs to have these to begin that process of looking like a bonafide candidate.  But what really wins a race?  Or with a group trying to influence an issue, what really makes the group effective?  In both cases some form of list management is the critical process.  In the case of a candidate, we know that it isn’t necessarily the number of handbills given out or the number of yard signs put up that wins the race. It is who votes that counts.  Getting people to vote should be about the process of identifying supporters and turning them out via a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) program.  In order to ensure your voters are voting you have to have data, you have to have a list.  I recall an inquiry coming from county party leader, after I had helped with a very successful fundraising effort.  He asked, “How did you raise that money?”  My response?  List management!  And because it is who votes that counts, List management is critical for elections too!    Lists are “golden” and starting your list, growing it, communicating to it and maintaining it are critical skills!

How to Start

But where do you start?  For candidates running a race, many might think that the starting place is the local voter file from the elections office.  Yes, that can be a starting place, and that should be one of the most accurate places for finding those who are registered to vote with the addresses, but for some who are looking for ways to connect with voters, it isn’t typically the place to find that critically important phone number.  Phones, in the voter file, are generally not that accurate, nor are most of the records found there populated with phone numbers.  A better place to start is with the party structure in your state.  Both major parties have online databases with voter information.  And this voter information is augmented with much better and more phones.  How does this happen?  There are entire industries now based upon finding and mining consumer data.    Companies can take the voter file data and find ways to accurately match your voter data to a phone.  They can do this for emails too and other data.  So as a candidate you should connect with your party leadership and find out what it takes to get access to this online data.  For Republicans that online data access is called GOPDATACENTER.

Purchasing Data

Another place to go is to one of the companies who are working at mining and matching data.  This is a place to go for an interest group that might not be able to go to a party and ask for access, or who might have an organically grown list (one you have been managing yourself and collecting through time) and who might need to match or update your file’s data for current data.  Going to one of the companies who mine for data can also be a way to get a leg up on your competition as the date you purchase is typically more accurate than that found in places like GOPDATACENTER.  Why?  Because buying data for an entire nation is expensive.  So the reality is the quality of the data, although much better than that found in the raw voter file, isn’t the highest quality.  It is good, but going to a vendor will get you better data.  If I rated the quality of the phone data in the raw voter file coming from the elections office it would be rated as a 3 or 4. It has value and you will connect with voters using it, and if that is all you have or can afford, you should use it.  However, if you go to the next step and get GOPDATACENTER access you will be better off and this data might be rated as a 7.  If you go the next step and speak to a vendor (and Action Solutions can do this on your behalf as we buy lots of data) you will get data that is an 8 or a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10.  In a close race, finding a way to speak to those additional voters can make the difference.  And remember, that list you have as you have worked in politics or tried to influence legislation or engage others in influence, can become dated.  Action Solutions has also helped groups by matching data for new phones, updated addresses and even emails to help find other ways to connect with folks you may have lost touch with as they have moved.

Next installment – Targeting Voters, Emails, Reaching People, and Keeping Track of People

Call or email Action Solutions today. If you have any questions or would like more information regarding options available for communications campaigns, contact Jeff Kubler at 888-761-3003, or at

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