Political parties use data to focus efforts on voters

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4News) – With one week until Election Day political parties and campaigns are making the final push to get voters to cast a ballot for their candidates. Thanks to data and mail-in ballots, that effort is more precise making sure door knocking and phone calls are targeted at possible supporters who haven’t voted.

Rob Anderson is Chair of the Utah Republican Party. He notes that no matter the party campaigns always seem to be shorthanded on resources.

“All campaigns cost a lot and the money, and it’s very difficult to come by,” said Anderson.

Since nearly every county in Utah has vote by mail it’s become easier for parties to track who’s turned in their ballot. That’s because they are scanned by the clerk to show the person has already voted.

“That way we can remove them from the target list, and focus your audience out there who has not turned in their ballot yet,” said Anderson.

Although the introduction of vote by mail has made for a longer period for turnout efforts. Alex Cragun, Executive Director of the Utah Democratic Party notes that an effort that used to be around two weeks now last more than a month.

“Everyday since ballots dropped, we get in, we’re contacting voters until 8 or 9 o’clock at night,” said Cragun.

One of the biggest changes in campaigns in all states has been the use of data from big companies like Google. Major parties have spent hundreds of millions acquire and analyze data which they turned over to state parties.

Information like a person’s purchases can give an accurate idea of how they might vote.

“They can kind of build a spectrum of where you are on the political spectrum based on your consumer purchase history,” said Anderson.

The information is crucial in Utah which has nearly half a million unaffiliated voters who are a key to winning close races.

While both parties are using the information to try and give the advantage to their party. Both men agreed that with Utah’s historically low turnout they just want to see more people vote in general.

“I think voting is one of the most critical and effective ways of voicing your opinion in our democracy,” said Cragun.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...