Real-time data insights have become a powerful political tool

Real-time data insights have become a powerful political tool
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The 2016 U.S. presidential election changed the game for marketers and political parties alike, heightening the need for real-time information on voters and the thoughts, feelings and opinions of consumers.

With a 24-hour news cycle and constant exposure to information, it has become increasingly difficult to manage a successful political campaign. Surprising election outcomes are slowly becoming the new normal.

Results from monthly polls are outdated by the time they are released and are no longer a reliable way of evaluating one’s actual chances of being elected, nor the issues the electorate truly cares about at a given time.


Social media has become a powerful political tool, allowing candidates and elected officials to communicate with their base at any hour.

What’s more, in the world of constant communication, no one is safe from scandals, potentially leading to catastrophic consequences during election cycles.

Damaging information on candidates and parties appears online every day, bringing to light what was once hidden from the public eye and giving voters the opportunity to not only judge a candidate’s political opinions but their personal lives and decisions as well.

The 2017 Alabama race which saw Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreCPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Shelby won't run for reelection The Seventeenth Amendment and the censure of Donald Trump MORE go from favorite to runner-up in a matter of weeks is a prime example of this shift, as the candidate’s inability to regain voter’s trust following the scandal ultimately led to what initially seemed like an unexpected defeat.

Social media movements such as #MeToo have the potential to make or break careers and it seems like powerful people across all political parties have been subjected to having their dirty laundry aired in public.

These allegations can often lead to dramatic consequences, as we have recently observed with the resignations of Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls Gillibrand: Cuomo allegations 'completely unacceptable' Schumer: Allegations against Cuomo 'serious, very troubling' MORE (D-Minn.) and Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.), among others.

Indeed, carefully crafted statements and press releases aren’t sufficient anymore to secure votes as the public is now looking for heartfelt Twitter apologies and thorough cable news interviews.

The president has been able to successfully play the game, connecting with his base at all hours of the day and providing real-time updates on his political views.

One tweet can send the world in a state of frenzy and result in hours of coverage on national TV, which can ultimately sway the views of voters on crucial political issues. Voters in the Heartland are a key portion of this audience.

As an often overlooked yet crucial part of the electorate, social media and the rise of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE have given them the opportunity to have their voices heard and their opinions weigh in the political balance.

In a political landscape that is constantly looking for more transparency and constant communication, candidates need to find new ways to reach their audience and make their opinions resonate with voters.

Only by building a thorough understanding of the electorate will candidates be able to remain relevant as the campaigns quickly evolve and to instantly change strategies and messaging that are no longer driving votes.  

As technology continues to advance, candidates and marketers increasingly need to find innovative tools to connect with voters and remain top of mind.

With the abundance of data available today, political strategists need to know what information is best for reaching voters at scale. By deriving insights from the voters themselves, candidates and marketers are able to not only target voters but also engage and mobilize them.

This is why at my company we believe that first party, self-declared data collected in real time is best for understanding and keeping track of constituents.

First party data can, indeed, be used to deterministically target individuals across all channels and devices. Through precise audience targeting capabilities, political campaigns, national committees and non-profit organizations are able to reach audiences with the highest propensity to take a specific action, including register to vote, volunteer for a cause or support a candidate.

Targeted ads are now an essential part of a successful political campaign as they are a highly effective way to reach a specific audience and enter people’s day to day lives through social media and other widely visited websites, to garner the most specific and up-to-date data on voters’ demographics and preferences.

Using this data to create highly targeted push notifications and text messages, for instance, allows candidates to share their opinions on current events in real-time with a carefully selected audience of voters and supporters, as well as to make strong calls to action to drive engagement and conversions.

Similarly, it is increasingly essential for political strategists to conduct polls and surveys on a much more regular basis. This ensures that data doesn’t get stale and can be used to build a campaign that addresses the issues voters care the most about on a given day or week, based on world events and other factors.

By doing this, candidates and political parties would be able to understand how and why people vote, based on specific geographies as well as demographics.

Ultimately, the upcoming midterm elections are likely going to be a fight for the most up-to-date data and real-time information.

First party, self-declared data as well as constant polling will undoubtedly be the key to winning voters and supporters in this ever-evolving political landscape, as politicians begin to understand the impact of everyday scandals and social media movements on their chances of being elected or remaining in power.

Jeff Pavelcsyk is the director of data solutions and account services for Fluent, a data-driven, performance marketing firm.