The election is over, but the work is just getting started
We’ve won the presidency. We’ve flipped the Senate. We’ve held the House. I, along with so many others, got involved in this election cycle with the laser focus of getting Trump out of the White House. And yet, the insurrection at the Capitol illustrated just how much work there is to be done. Our victories in 2020 are historic, but in order to create systemic change we need to continue to elect Democrats at every level of government in every election.
To do so, we must continue to invest in the party infrastructure that helps Democrats run efficient, winning programs.
At DNC Tech, our work is guided by two core principles:
- The infrastructure needed for effective, secure and efficient voter outreach should be built once and leveraged by every Democratic campaign. Our goal is to save campaigns time and money so they can focus on what matters most: the voters.
- The DNC is uniquely positioned to aggregate and enhance decades of campaign data and develop tools to help campaigns reach voters (like IWillVote.com).
As we look to 2022 (and beyond), we’re focusing on the following five themes:
Breaking down data silos
When I joined the DNC in 2018, our top priority was to retire the previous Democratic data warehouse, and transition to Phoenix, a new cloud-based warehouse that would uplevel the security, reliability, and accessibility of voter data. In 2019, we successfully did so, and in 2020, every major Democratic presidential campaign, state party, and sister committee leveraged Phoenix.
Still, much of the data in the ecosystem is siloed and movement of data from one system to another is often plagued with inefficiencies and data loss. With the proliferation of new tools in the ecosystem, campaigns are using a more diverse suite of services than ever. In 2021 (and beyond), we’re looking to streamline data flow between platforms so that data staffers can focus on the data, rather than its movement.
Creating a holistic view of the (potential) voter
Voter file data is the foundation of every data-driven campaign. To provide a more holistic view of the voter, the DNC invests in additional data like contact information and consumer data.
Since 2016, the DNC has purchased millions of cell phone numbers that helped campaigns pivot their programs from door knocking to phone-based. Likewise, in 2020 campaigns leveraged data from progressive organizations accessed via the Democratic Data Exchange (DDx) to improve their voter outreach, data science models, and reporting.
Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in diverse data that helps campaigns reach not only registered voters, but also potential voters.
Building versatile voter-centric tools
Not only did the channels through which we reached voters shift in 2020, but the messages we used also changed. Amidst rampant disinformation about voting and vote-by-mail, information was the best inoculant. In partnership with state parties and the Biden campaign we expanded the information on IWillVote.com to include information about voting requirements and deadlines. Pivoting IWillVote from an action-oriented tool (look up polling location, check registration, etc.) to also include critical state-specific voting information, enabled it to serve more voter use cases.
Continuing to build versatile voter-centric tools helps campaigns adapt to the election cycle, and more rapidly experiment with tactics.
Countering disinformation from multiple angles
The DNC’s counter-disinformation program worked closely with the Biden campaign and across the Democratic ecosystem to monitor and respond to bad actors and narratives. Disinformation isn’t just a technology problem. As such, technology alone is not the solution.
Four pillars ground the DNC counter-disinformation program: threat detection, counter-messaging, policy, and education. As we look to future election cycles we will continue to build upon these pillars and support races up and down the ballot.
Instilling a culture of security
The DNC remains deeply focused on building a culture of security not only at the DNC, but across the Democratic ecosystem. This included equipping staff and volunteers with regular security training, providing hardware keys, and mandating completion of the Security Checklist.
While the 2020 general election is over, we must remain as vigilant as ever. As we head toward 2022, as an ecosystem we need to prioritize building cultures of security within our organizations and security best practices in our platforms.
As DNC CTO Nell Thomas mentioned in her post, we can’t lose our focus or sense of urgency. Some of the most important work happens in the off cycle. If you’re interested in helping build the infrastructure to help democrats win, join our team.