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Marketplace

The new frontier of voter tracking

Kai Ryssdal Feb 10, 2016
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The New Hampshire presidential primary may be over, but there are many primaries coming up in other states around the country and voters will likely turn out in droves to cast their ballots. 

One company is tracking voter characteristics through some likely sources  their phones. Dstillery is a big data intelligence company that sells targeted advertising information about consumers to big companies like Microsoft and Comcast. 

But in the Iowa primary, the company tried its hand at compiling voter traits. 

“We watched each of the caucus locations for each party and we collected mobile device ID’s,” Dstillery CEO Tom Phillips said. “It’s a combination of data from the phone and data from other digital devices.”

Dstillery found some interesting things about voters. For one, people who loved to grill or work on their lawns overwhelmingly voted for Trump in Iowa, according to Phillips. There was some pretty unexpected characteristics that came up too. 

“NASCAR was the one outlier, for Trump and Clinton,” Phillips said. “In Clinton’s counties, NASCAR way over-indexed.”

Meaning, people who watched and supported NASCAR also happened to support Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But Phillips maintained that correlation does not always indicate causation. 

For now, Dstillery has only used its technology to find out more about voters in the Iowa primary. But it anticipates compiling voter data in other primaries or even the general election come November if candidates approach them about it. 

Hear the full interview in the audio player above.

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