Better Together: Data, Analysis, and Application

Chris McNulty

Data, Political

April 13, 2021

Better Together: Data, Analysis, and Application

I cut my teeth in politics working for the iconic Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett. The Chairman used to say, “If a candidate wins, they will say they did it all by themselves. If they lose, they will say it’s the party’s fault.”

Winning a competitive race means that all aspects of the campaign must make a concerted effort together. Every bit matters: the message, the creative, the media buy, the digital, the mail, the phones, the volunteer effort, fundraising… And of course, the quality of the candidate.

Causeway Solutions is a maverick in the GOP political data space because we tell clients upfront that good data—and even great data—alone does not win elections. Data without analysis, and without thoughtful application into all aspects of the campaign, is nothing more than expensive artwork.

The two biggest limitations on a campaign are time and money. A data-driven plan will make every aspect of a campaign more efficient and more effective. When we work with a campaign or caucus, we use the data to do just that. This includes everything from the targeting of voter contact programs to media buying, and even candidate travel. Roadmap to Victory

2020 was challenging for our caucus clients. This was most true for suburban swing districts in which former President Trump lost or underperformed more often than not. Our caucus clients in North Carolina and Ohio thrived anyway, which illustrates that it all matters. When you use data to provide a targeted solution—a solution that is applied across the board—it can produce remarkable results.

OHIO – The #1 and #2 priority districts for the Ohio GOP Senate Caucus were OH SD-16 (R-Kunze) and OH SD-24 (R-Dolan). These two incumbent members represent the suburbs around Columbus and Cleveland, respectively. In each race, the incumbent Republican Senator received more votes than Trump in their own district—and not just a few more votes.

(R) Senator Dolan outperformed Trump by 10,588 votes. Even more impressive was (R) Senator Kunze, who outperformed Trump in the 16th District by 13,218 votes. What makes Senator Kunze’s victory even more astonishing is that she won this tough district by a total of 116 votes.

Our effort with the Ohio GOP Senate Caucus was comprehensively integrated, from the walk list to media buy. Our work with the caucus began more than a year in advance, utilizing the baseline model to create district-specific paths to victory.

In both of these challenging districts, winning meant finding voters who could be persuaded to vote for our Republican State Senate candidate, even though they were unlikely to vote for the top of the ticket. This universe was a focused part of our overall persuasion audience. The persuasion audience derived from the modeling would receive the vast bulk of both the caucus and the campaign’s focus. This meant doors, digital, mail, and media buying.

Ohio is not the only example. In 2020, North Carolina presented an even greater targeting challenge.

North Carolina had massive crosscurrents at the top of the ticket. Ultimately, Trump won the state by 1.34%. Incumbent (D) Governor Roy Cooper won by 4.5% and (R) Senator Thom Tillis won by 1.8%. Of these big three, only (D) Governor Cooper received more than 50% of the vote.

Republican State House candidates faced two challenges. The first was that they were in suburban target districts. The second involved isolating the right persuasion audience to be successful, despite the top-of-the-ticket crosscurrents. Again, we worked in concert with the caucus and by extension the campaigns on district-specific paths to victory. This was reflected in doors walked by the candidates and in every voter contact program.

The North Carolina Republican House Caucus had seven Tier One races. In all but one of those races, the Republican candidate out-performed Trump in their respective district. This alone is a significant feat.

Our post-election analysis deep-dive revealed that none of the Democrat House candidates in these districts out-performed President Biden. No other incumbent Republican in non-target districts out-performed Trump. Getting more votes than the top of the ticket was unique to our target candidates.

Data alone does not win campaigns. Data + Analysis + Application brings the various aspects of a campaign together into a concerted effort, making data-driven campaigns more efficient and more effective.

Ready to learn more? Contact Causeway Solutions to get started!