robertogreco + vote   1

Who Needs ACORN?
"But unlike African Americans or college students, WVWV targets were not geographically clustered in specific neighborhoods whose sidewalks could be stalked by clipboard-carrying canvassers. Gardner knew she would have to seek them out individually, but it wasn’t obvious how to do that: Databases used by campaigns and parties usually included voters’ ages and flagged them by race, but did not identify their marital status. But Gardner happened to be launching her new group just as the political world was discovering the value of commercial data warehouses initially created for credit agencies and consumer marketing. She bought lists of all voting-age adults and then cross-referenced them with voter-registration rolls: The names that appeared on one and not the other became a potential universe of targets. She then had analysts develop statistical models that mined demographic variables for each woman on that list to predict the likelihood that each was unmarried. Women’s Voices Women’s Vote didn’t have to wait for these voters to come to them. They sent the women on their list a letter.

During campaign years, the group issues quarterly mailings.* Each mailing has a randomized experimental design built in, allowing the group to test various ways of packaging a registration form, adjusting everything from cover letter language to envelope typography. By paying the postal service to track which of its forms were sent along to registration authorities, it is possible to determine which packages get the best response. In a 2010 test, for example, WVWV found that Ohio-specific forms sent to targets in that state got returned at a rate 1 percentage point higher than a standardized national alternative. Analysts can also apply statistical models to identify the attributes of those recipients who have been most responsive to each appeal. With time, WVWV learned that those who have recently moved, or just turned 18, are twice as likely to respond to any mailed registration appeal as the broader population.

After the group’s June 2012 mailing, WVWV analysts and designers made 13 improvements to the way it builds a list of new targets.* Each was designed to slightly increase the odds of response, and thus lower the cost of a registering a voter. A decade of such tests and tweaks has cut the price of a new registration more than half from the $15 that Gardner estimated it cost a decade ago to administer traditional site-based programs using paid canvassers. “We have kept driving the cost of registering a person down cycle after cycle,” she says. “Our lists are getting better, our models are getting better, our targeting is getting better.” With that data-centric approach came something unimaginable at the card table: the ability to put on the rolls only those people you wanted to see cast a ballot.*"
vote  participation  vip  voting  politics  statistics  acorn  vpc  via:migurski 
august 2012 by robertogreco

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