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The Democratic party is on a mission to foster data and tech unification up and down the ballot, and now the keepers of Republican data have signaled a similar goal. Two of the most prominent voter-data companies on the right, the Data Trust and i360, now will align their databases, allowing clients using either system to tap into some of the same information about voters.
Both sides are making moves leading up to November's midterm election -- a staging ground for the 2016 presidential race -- to spur sophistication among campaigns using tech tools and data analysis for field organizing, ad targeting and get out the vote efforts. But their approaches differ.
While i360 houses data on more than 190 million voters -- information that is publically available -- the Data Trust is the exclusive data supplier of the Republican National Committee's voter file data. Both provide information to Republican campaigns and other like-minded organizations. To access the RNC's voter data through Data Trust, political campaigns agree to funnel data they gather on voters while door-knocking and other interactions back into the RNC voter file.
Data Trust and i360 said they will reduce data duplication, a basic data cleansing practice, through the partnership. However, more significant is the new ability for campaigns to access updated information via either company's system.
The list-exchange agreements between Data Trust and campaigns are intended to ensure that voter profiles are regularly refreshed with new, relevant information. Not only are addresses and phone numbers updated, but information about issues that interest particular voters, how much they've donated, whether they have volunteered for a campaign, and other details are added to give campaigns clearer pictures of the people they aim to attract.
The Democrats take the same approach. However, the two main disseminators of data for the left -- NGP VAN and Catalist, which primarily serves advocacy and labor organizations -- are not integrated. So, when an organization on the left such as Planned Parenthood works with Catalist, the updated information it filters back into that database does not make its way through to the DNC voter file managed by NGP VAN.
Details regarding which data points either company will share -- such as the voter scores the RNC uses to quantify the likelihood someone will vote Republican -- are not known. The companies did not respond to a request to comment about the deal.
Last week the Democratic party joined data management technology firm NGP VAN in announcing new features of its data management system, further establishing "The VAN" as the official platform for Democratic campaigns. The move reaffirmed the Democratic National Committee's push towards centralizing development of apps, ad platforms and analytics software around a single data platform.