Republican strategists involved with Republican David Jolly's win
in a Florida congressional race are crediting a sophisticated voter database nicknamed Honeybadger and voter concern about Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Honeybadger updates constantly and integrates real-time data with existing files, allowing strategists with the National Republican Congressional Committee to track which voters they had to target and what messages would motivate them to vote, The National Journal
The system indicated, in late February, that absentee ballots showed Jolly was trailing Democratic contender Alex Sink by 6 points, but leading her by 12 to 14 points among those who had not cast absentee votes.
Jolly's campaign was running out of time to make up the difference, considering early voting began on March 1 with the election being held 10 days later, so the strategists targeted used the database system to target the voters who were most likely to turn out and vote.
Their message across digital platforms and email was simple: Vote now for Jolly or watch Pelosi, a California Democrat, take a step toward becoming House speaker again.
"We had a lot of high-probability folks left, so if we were able to focus our message properly, we could create a surge, or amplify it," NRCC Deputy Political Director John Rogers told The National Journal.
"Once we switched to that script across the board, that's when the surge started. That was late February."
The ploy was just one undertaken with the help of the Honeybadger system, without which NRCC strategists say Jolly may have lost his election to replace late GOP Rep. Bill Young.
The system didn't exist in the 2012 election cycle, Rogers told the Journal. But in the Jolly race, officials using Honeybadger in the earliest part of the campaign determined it needed to attract Republican seniors and independent and "center-right" women to vote.
The NRCC, the Republican National Committee and the state Republican Party joined to target those voters, combining their information with the RNC's Data Trust system.
Democrats argue though, that they outperformed in a right-leaning district and that Jolly's win was not much of a surprise.
"National Republicans bragging about winning a Republican-held seat with a heavily Republican electorate is hardly illuminating and certainly doesn't demonstrate whether their data and analytics operations have joined the 21st century," Emily Bittner, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the Journal.
But NRCC Digital Director Gerrit Lansing said Democrats either "oversold" their data technology "or we're starting to beat them at their own game."
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