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Data and Democracy

Book Description

The 2016 US elections will be remembered for many things, but for those who work in politics, 2016 may be best remembered as the year that the use of data in politics reached its maturity. Through a collection of essays from leading experts in the field, this report explores how political data science helps to drive everything from overall strategy and messaging to individual voter contacts and advertising.

Curated by Andrew Therriault, former Director of Data Science for the Democratic National Committee, this illuminating report includes first-hand accounts from Democrats, Republicans, and members of the media. Tech-savvy readers will get a comprehensive account of how data analysis has prevailed over political instinct and experience, along with examples of the challenges these practitioners face.

Essays include:

  • The Role of Data in Campaigns—Andrew Therriault, former Director of Data Science for the Democratic National Committee
  • Essentials of Modeling and Microtargeting—Dan Castleman, cofounder and Director of Analytics at Clarity Campaign Labs, a leading modeler in Democratic politics
  • Data Management for Political Campaigns—Audra Grassia, Deputy Political Director for the Democratic Governors Association in 2014, now leads political engagements at Civis Analytics
  • How Technology Is Changing the Polling Industry—Patrick Ruffini, cofounder of Echelon Insights and Founder/Chairman of Engage, was a digital strategist for President Bush in 2004 and for the Republican National Committee in 2006
  • Data-Driven Media Optimization—Alex Lundry, cofounder and Chief Data Scientist at Deep Root Analytics, a leading expert on media and voter analytics, electoral targeting, and political data mining
  • How (and Why) to Follow the Money in Politics—Derek Willis, ProPublica’s news applications developer, formerly with The New York Times
  • Digital Advertising in the Post-Obama Era—Daniel Scarvalone, Associate Director of Research and Data at Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI), a digital marketer for the Democratic party
  • Election Forecasting in the Media—Natalie Jackson, Senior Polling Editor at The Huffington Post

Table of Contents

  1. Prologue: The Role of Data in Campaigns
    1. A Primer on Modern Election Campaigns
    2. What to Expect
  2. 1. Essentials of Modeling and Microtargeting
    1. What Models Can and Cannot Do
    2. Selecting Voters to Target
    3. How Models Are Made
  3. 2. Data Management for Political Campaigns
    1. The Challenge: Building a Smart, Scalable, and Compatible Data Infrastructure
    2. Seizing Opportunity: Five Ways to Maximize Use of Data on a Campaign
    3. Applying These Principles on Real Campaigns
  4. 3. How Technology Is Changing the Polling Industry
    1. Despite Challenges, Polling Isn’t Dead Yet…
    2. …But Understanding How to Poll Is More Essential than Ever
    3. The Shift to Online Interviewing: Possibilities and Pitfalls
    4. The Future as a Hybrid
  5. 4. Data-Driven Media Optimization
    1. Why Media Optimization Matters
    2. The Challenge of Measuring Viewership
    3. Working with TV Data
    4. Building Optimized Media Strategies
  6. 5. How (and Why) to Follow the Money in Politics
    1. Getting Campaign Finance Data
    2. The Toolkit
    3. What the Internet Has Changed
    4. The Challenges Ahead
  7. 6. Digital Advertising in the Post-Obama Era
    1. How Digital Advertising Works in a Campaign
    2. Using Experimentally-Informed Programs to Measure Effectiveness
    3. Tools for Delivering Better Ads and Measuring Their Impacts
    4. Adapting to a Changing Campaign Environment
    5. Applying These Lessons for Non-Political Clients
    6. What Comes Next
  8. 7. Election Forecasting in the Media
    1. The Basic Mechanics of Election Forecasting
      1. Bayesian versus Frequentist Modeling
      2. Fundamentals versus Polls-Only
      3. Estimating the Electoral College
    2. Communicating About the Model
    3. The Future of Election Forecasting
  9. Epilogue: The Future of Political Data Science