Advanced Micro Targeting: Campaign Data Targeting Is Key to Winning

by The Campaign Workshop


Advanced Micro Targeting Tips for Your Campaign

Advanced micro targeting can be the advantage you need to win your campaign. Before we get deep into micro targeting voter modeling other advanced targeting,  let’s start off by defining targeting so that we are all on the same page. This is a basic rule for all campaigns: candidates, ballot, independent expenditure, etc. Political data targeting (sometimes referred to as micro targeting) is looking at your whole district or universe and then narrowing it down to the people you need to communicate with to win. Every campaign has limits - people, time, money or all of the above. Effectively targeting helps you use your limited resources as effectively as possible.


Now for advanced micro targeting: with the growing use of modeling and robust data manipulation software even small budget campaigns have the access and ability to do some pretty advanced targeting and testing. As you can imagine though, all of these techniques and tools create an almost unlimited number of ways to cut and divide your data into your targeted voter universes. The largest organizations and campaigns have teams of people working to segment their audiences to find voter universes for not only campaigns, but for specific pieces of campaigns as well.

All of that said, the best place to start to find your universe is at the beginning after you determine your vote goal. For purposes of this article we’ll discus the two most basic levels of targeting – geographic and demographic.

Geographic targeting is exactly what it sounds like – targeting people based on where they live. If you’re a candidate it means making sure to talk with voters who live in your district, for advocacy it means talking to people in your targeted districts or cities. Before pulling your voter universe, make sure the districting data on your voter file is correct.

Demographic targeting is a little more complex and may take a little more thinking about what voters you need to win. it may also take polling or other research.  If you are running in a tightly contested primary in a predominantly Democratic district, targeting all Democratic voters may not be your best bet. If you are looking to run in a swing district that leans a little Republican, you may need to include some progressive Republican voters to win. Either way, you’ll want to use your poll numbers or historical data to find the most likely voters you can either persuade or that will vote for you, but may need encouragement to get out and vote. Demographic targeting can utilize models (likely provided by a state party for down ballot races), voter file data, and potentially even commercial or other types of data.

Once you have figured out who lives in your district and the demographics that you are focusing on, then you need to know who will actually vote. Voter history is critical in targeting, because unless you have unlimited resources (if you do, call us) then you will only want to be talking to people who always (super voters) or sometimes vote, and not to people who are unlikely to or never vote. You do not have enough time to talk to every voter, or try and run a voter registration or engagement campaign in conjunction with your actual campaign, so let’s just save those for after you’re elected.

When looking at methods of targeted communication you will need to take into consideration different factors to complete advanced targeting. When targeting for canvassing, you will be doing it based on turf and how voters are grouped together in walkable areas. Some people may need to be reached by phone or direct mail, because you cannot reach them in person and that will be a different targeted group that you will be able to determine in your voter file.

Once you have figured out the people you are targeting, match it up to what your vote goal is and see if you need to expand or can reduce that target.

As you can tell, the advanced micro targeting techniques and tools used to target voters and potential advocates are constantly changing. We spend a lot of time thinking, reading and working on targeting.

Have question about advanced micro targeting for political campaigns or advocacy? Ask them here: