- - Wednesday, June 17, 2020

You’re either a master of technology or a victim of technology.

That is the simple truth of this century, and it is especially pointed in electoral politics, where creating and delivering persuasive messages is the sine qua non. Information about voters — where they live, what media they consume and when, what they purchase and when, and when and how they make up their minds about issues and candidates — is essential to success.

Until 2008, Republicans had an advantage with respect to the collection, aggregation and analysis of voter information. But the Obama crew changed that in 2008 with the development of Catalist, and by 2012 the Democrats were distinctly ahead of the Republicans.

By 2011, that deficiency had become clear to a clutch of former Republican operatives, and they created a private company called Data Trust. After a couple of election cycles of learning, Data Trust played a significant role in 2016 and were central to President Trump’s election. The president, who had limited campaign infrastructure, adopted the RNC and its infrastructure including the relationship with Data Trust.

Data Trust is unique in its focus on, and competence in, aggregating voter data and integrating it with all kinds of platforms so that campaigns and other organizations can use it to reach voters through every possible medium. They create and curate insights from that data as well as the customers’ experience.

This allows Data Trust to offer its customers the most recent and useful data available, and makes the entire ecosystem faster, smarter, better, and more efficient.

In short, because Data Trust centralizes the data and makes it available, everyone benefits.

For example, about 40% of voting now occurs prior to election day, and that number is likely to increase dramatically this cycle. By tracking early voters, a company like Data Trust can save campaigns and other clients over $100 million that they would have wasted trying to reach voters who have already voted.

Think about television. Every candidate spends money on television but not every viewer is right-of-center or a frequent voter. Using data from companies like Data Trust, campaigns can sharpen their ad buys and instead of spending $10 million on television and wasting $3.5 million advertising to the wrong targets, they can spend all $10 million reaching the voters they want to reach.

The Democrats understand the value of data as well and have been anxious to neutralize the Republicans’ advantage in this area. One of the first things former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg did upon entering the presidential race was announce the investment of $100 million in a data analysis firm called Hawkfish. The creator of LinkedIn has announced a $35 million investment in a similar outfit called Alloy.

Fortunately for Republicans, the Biden team wants to put the 2016 band together. A few days ago, they announced that they would not be using Hawkfish, but rather relying on an amalgam of Democratic firms that did the same sort of work in 2016. Not a recipe for victory, but not a big surprise either. If you are going to nominate a predictable, cautious candidate, you may as well have the campaign run by predictable, cautious operatives.

Data can seem boring — and it may be boring. But it is the essential foundation of a campaign, like the guidance system of a plane. If you have no idea where you’re going, or how to get there, you will probably wind up hopelessly lost.

Campaigns, candidates, and organizations on the right have a tremendous asset in Data Trust. It has the lowest cost, highest quality collection of political data currently available.

It will make the difference for many candidates — and for all of us — in November.

• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.

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