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Guess what: data is driving political campaigns

Kai Ryssdal Mar 2, 2016
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Super Tuesday is in the books and we already know who won and who has to consider throwing in the towel.

But, what you might not hear are the behind-the-scenes, nuts and bolts stories. The ones about the people who go door-to-door or make phone call after phone call. They grind out the minutia of politics that get the votes cast. And part of that grind is collecting data – huge amounts of it.

You might say it started with the 2008 Obama campaign. But every year, it seems data plays a bigger and bigger role in running a competitive campaign. It helps inform candidates on what voters like, how they feel  and what sorts of changes they want their government make.

Candidates, then use these sets of data to learn about us. They learn what questions to ask us and whose door to knock on to ask those questions. The data even helps shape advertising, focusing it on specific groups of voters with specific political views.

There are companies that provide a whole host of tools to gather, process, and produce the sort of data campaigns count on.

The biggest company providing these services is on the Democratic side. It’s a company called NGP VAN. Their CEO, Stu Trevelyan, sat down with Kai to explain just exactly what his company does for campaigns.

Click the audio player above to listen to their conversation. 

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