13 min read

Summary

Every political campaign strategy is built around targeting voters through different stages of voter contact, and while there is a range of ways to do the voter contact they all follow the similar voter targeting strategy.

Stages of a Political Campaign Targeting

  1. ID : This can be as simple as using party registration or as complex as running a grassroots effort where you survey voter at the door and on the phone. This will allow you to create voter universes, so you can focus more on undecided voters, and supporters

  2. Persuade : This part is often skipped, but it allows the political campaign to better refine its voter universes and allows political campaign to reduce the overall size of the undecided voter universe

  3. GOTV : This is the last part of any political campaign, and it was the campaign tries to contact their support universes as many times as they can before the polls close.

Getting Started with Voter Targeting

The First thing you will need to start voter targeting is a voter registration list for this article I will be using a DC voter registration list from 2014.

Download DC Voter Registration Data Warning Large .csv file

Overview of Voter List

Before we talk about targeting voter with a voter registration list we should go over the basic of every voter registration list that includes.

Personal Information

Personal Information from Voter Registration list

The first thing you will notice is that you are given personal information, and in some state, it can include phone numbers and email address. Thing to keep in mind the information might not be current for voters (ie. moved or new number), and can have more people at each address then there are because of this. While it is a safe bet that a voter with an A, which means active, in status information is current inactive voter noted with an I will have to be followed up on and fixed.

The way you do this is by contacting and updating political campaign list through voter contact.

Voting Information

Voter and Election Information From Voter Registration list

This part of the list can change based on the state you are in, but there are some common elements about each list.

The most important part of this section is how often they have voted. This is because research has shown that people who vote are more likely to vote again. The best voter is the 3 of 4 and 4 of 4 because they will likely vote without much voter contact need.

The other thing that will be listed is their party registration (shown with personal information). In a state that doesn’t have party registration you are given information on which primaries, they have voted in(ie. democrat or republican). Then you can make a 5 point partisan scale, or you just mark them down as republican, democrat, and crossover.

Data Brokers

The final thing you can do to target voter is to buy voter data from a vendor, but the major thing to keep in mind is that the voter data is most likely 3rd hand data (.ie magazine subscriptions and email lists) while these can give you some information about a voter you don’t know how old the data is and could include people who don’t live there

Running surveys through canvassing and phone banking is the only way you can make sure the information is correct, which makes 2nd hand data (.ie Facebook and LinkedIn) give you better results.

Acquiring the List

Each state has their own laws on how much and who can have access to it, and what kind of data will be on it. Below is a state by state list of costs and different restrictions.

Who Can Use



State The Public State Residents Registered Voters Non-Profits Researchers Political Committees Candidates Price Estimate Additional Data Website
Alabama
Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes 1 cent per voter or about $30,000 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.alabamavotes.gov/
Alaska Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $20 Absentee Data; Voter History https://www.elections.alaska.gov/
Arizona Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) 1 cent per voter or about $32,500 Absentee Data; Permanent Absentee List; Voter History http://www.azsos.gov/elections
Arkansas Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $2.50 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/elections/Pages/default.aspx
California Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Incl. Research) Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $30 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/
Colorado Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $50 (One Month Extract)/$500 (One Year of Monthly Extracts) $1,000 (Annual Subscription to Live Database) Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/main.html
Connecticut Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $300 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.ct.gov/sots/site/default.asp
Delaware Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Election Purposes (Not Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Not Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) $10 Permanent Absentee List; Voter History http://elections.delaware.gov/index.shtml
Florida Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $5 Absentee Data; Voter History http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/
Georgia Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $5,000 for records ($500 for CD-ROM) Absentee Data; Voter History (Free) http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/?section=elections
Hawaii Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $500 Absentee Requested; Voter History http://elections.hawaii.gov/
Idaho Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $20 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.sos.idaho.gov/elect/
Illinois Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $500 Absentee Data; Voter History https://www.elections.il.gov/
Indiana
Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $5,000 (Annual Subscription) Absentee Voter Data; Vote History for Previous Ten Elections http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/
Iowa
Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) $1,950 (Annual Subscription) Absentee Data; Voter History http://sos.iowa.gov/elections/otherinfo.html
Kansas Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $200 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.kssos.org/elections/elections.html
Kentucky
Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $450 Voter History http://elect.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Louisiana Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $5,000 Voter History http://www.sos.la.gov/ElectionsAndVoting/GetElectionInformation/Pages/default.aspx
Maine Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $2,200 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/
Maryland Cannot Use Cannot Use Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Cannot Use Cannot Use Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) $125 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.elections.state.md.us/
Massachusetts Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Free for those who Qualify Absentee Information is Available via the Municipalities; Vote History http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleifv/howreg.htm
Michigan Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $22.50 None http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1633---,00.html
Minnesota Cannot Use Cannot Use Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Cannot Use Cannot Use Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) $51 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.sos.state.mn.us/
Mississippi Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $2,100 Absentee Voter Data; Vote History http://www.sos.ms.gov/elections-voting/Pages/default.aspx
Missouri Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $100 Voter History http://s1.sos.mo.gov/elections
Montana Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $5,000 (Annual Subscription) Absentee Data; Voter History http://sos.mt.gov/elections/
Nebraska
Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) $500 Voter History http://www.sos.ne.gov/elec/
Nevada Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $500 (Per Month Subscription) Absentee Data; Voter History http://nvsos.gov/index.aspx?page=3
New Hampshire Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $8,200 Absentee (Separate List); Previous 2 Years Vote History http://voterlist.electproject.org/states/new-jersey
New Jersey Non-Commercial Purposes* Non-Commercial Purposes* Non-Commercial Purposes* Non-Commercial Purposes* Non-Commercial Purposes* Non-Commercial Purposes* Non-Commercial Purposes* $2.55 Absentee Data (separate list); Voter History http://www.nj.gov/state/elections/
New Mexico Political Purposes (Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Incl. Research) Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $4,800 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.sos.state.nm.us/Elections_Data/#
New York Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Free Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.elections.ny.gov/
North Carolina Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $25 Absentee Data; Voter History (via FTP)These data are also freely available at http://dl.ncsbe.gov/The voter registration and vote history data are in the /data sub-directory and the absentee ballot data is available in the /ENRS sub-directory http://www.ncsbe.gov/ncsbe/
North Dakota Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $5,000 Voter History https://vip.sos.nd.gov/PortalList.aspx
Ohio Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Free (via HTTP directory) Voter History http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/elections.aspx
Oklahoma Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Free (must request access to online system) Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.ok.gov/elections/
Oregon Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $500 Absentee Data; Voter History http://sos.oregon.gov/voting-elections/Pages/default.aspx
Pennsylvania Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $500 AbsenteeData; Voter History http://www.dos.pa.gov/VotingElections/Pages/default.aspx
Rhode Island
Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $700 Absentee http://www.elections.state.ri.us/
South Carolina
Cannot Use Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $75 for printed list and $160 for CD's Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.scvotes.org/
South Dakota
Cannot Use Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Cannot Use Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $2,500 Absentee Data; Voter History http://sdsos.gov/elections-voting/
Tennessee
Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) Political Purposes (Not Incl. Research) $2,500 Absentee Data; Voter History http://sos.tn.gov/elections
Texas
Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $1,250 Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/
Utah Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $1,050 Absentee Data; Voter History http://elections.utah.gov/
Vermont
Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Free Absentee can be Requested from Towns; Voter History https://www.sec.state.vt.us/elections.aspx
Virginia
Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Election Purposes (Incl. GOTV & Voter Reg) Cannot Use Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $5,000 Absentee Data; Voter History http://elections.virginia.gov/
Washington
Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Free
Absentee Data; Voter History https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/
West Virginia
Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $6,000 None http://www.sos.wv.gov/elections/pages/default.aspx
Wisconsin
Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $12,500 Permanent Absentee List; Absentee Data; Voter History http://www.gab.wi.gov/elections-voting
Wyoming Cannot Use
Cannot Use
Cannot Use
Non-Commercial Purposes
Cannot Use
Non-Commercial Purposes
Non-Commercial Purposes
Free Absentee Data; Voter History
http://soswy.state.wy.us/elections/
Washington DC Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes Non-Commercial Purposes $2.00 Absentee Data; Voter History https://www.dcboee.org/