Smart mapping technology has become an indispensable tool for campaigns because it allows for the visualization of supporters, issues or voter demographics within a targeted area. Instead of mountains of raw data points, consultants and mangers can strategize over colorful, digital maps.
While these online cartography tools were once a campaign luxury, they’re now within reach of even the slimmest of budgets.
Smart maps overlay data as layers from VANs, census files and other sources over the geographical area of interest. This enables campaigns to better visualize trends, decide where to advertise and organize events. Choosing the right mapping solution for a campaign depends on your budget, how tech savvy is your team, what kind of data will be mapped and how much interactivity you need? Here are some good choices:
L2 VoterMapping lets users perform voter analysis or counts of a single district, state or nationwide by selecting from thousands of voter, demographic, consumer, donor or issue categories. The resulting list can be exported in different formats including mail, phone, walk, telemarketing, and standard CSV files. It enables you to view the location of every voter in your selection or drill down to get information about the occupants of a single household. It provides detailed counts and percentages by all sub-demographic categories and boundaries. Monthly subscription plans start at $29/month.
Deck uses historic voter traits in a district, candidate traits, and election results to estimate the probability how a specific voter will vote. It uses prior election results to train the program on how to predicting the outcome of an election. Comparing what the computer predicts to the actual outcome, helps make the program more accurate. The latest media coverage of the race, campaign finance reports, and voter registration data is continuously factored into the prediction. So when a major event happens, you can see its estimated impact right away. Their targeting tools suggest who you need to reach to improve your odds of winning.
Empower Engine is designed for campaign managers, field organizers, local party activists, and advocacy groups. It provides user with their own maps rescaled to show local variation in the place where they’re working. The maps of field data are automatically updated every night from VAN. Users can easily make custom maps to help them organize. It offers free accounts with census data on one US state and basic plans start at $199/month
Census Reporter makes it easier for campaigns to use information from the U.S. Census bureau. Its user-friendly interface enables campaign managers to analyze factors such as where voters are distributed by age, sex, children, health insurance, race, employment, poverty, veterans and income. This helps determine which issues to emphasize where in the district.
Esri ArcGIS is the foundation of many Geographic Information System (GIS) services. It’s used by government officials to develop redistricting plans, share election results, locate voting centers and report on polling place wait times.
It provides campaign planners with the information they need for more accurate outreach and targeted messaging with:
Tapestry Segmentation to classify neighborhoods into 67 unique segments by demographic and socioeconomic traits. And psychodemographic data to show the locations of like-minded individuals.
For instance, a campaign could choose the right criteria on ArcGIS to determine where it should emphasize the need for medical insurance for the unemployed.
Deepak Puri is a Silicon Valley veteran and co-founder of Democracy Labs, a San Francisco-based non-profit that connects technical and media experts with progressive campaigns.