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Cellphone data, mobile apps and paid media: DNC touts voter-targeting plans

In a new memo, the Democratic National Committee outlined some of its plans for spending the cash it has been vacuuming up for the 2024 election cycle.
President Joe Biden greets Jaime Harrison
President Joe Biden greets Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in National Harbor, Md., on Sept. 8, 2022.Alex Wong / Getty Images file

The Democratic National Committee is making new tech investments to bolster its efforts to reach young voters and voters of color in an increasingly fragmented environment, according to a new memo laying out the party’s strategies in the months leading up to the general election.

Bolstered by the over $192 million they have amassed in the first quarter of this year, Democrats have doled out millions to acquire data and new technology to specifically target voters in battleground states and create a “data infrastructure” that can equally be used by national and state parties. 

The party has invested $2 million this cycle in cellphone data to better target voters in battleground states, according to the memo, which touted expanding its cellphone coverage on voter lists from 30% of voters in 2016 to over 80% now. An additional $2 million annually has been invested in “models and commercial data to better understand voters.”

The Democrats point to the Wisconsin state Supreme Court race as evidence of the benefit of having such data on file, citing the 1.4 million calls and texts Wisconsin Democrats made to support candidates last year, including Janet Protasiewicz, who was elected to the court.

The DNC says that so far, it has made 1.2 million calls and sent 5.4 million texts to engage voters and promote events, recruit for organizing activities and support voter registration efforts in battleground states.

It plans to invest more in its relational organizing programs to better reach young voters and voters of color before the election. That includes a Wisconsin-based pilot program that has been engaging with youth voters on college campuses in Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and Eau Claire.

Ahead of President Joe Biden’s campaign event in Racine, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, attendees were trained in how to use a relational organizing app, REACH, which the campaign described as a program helping “voters connect with people they already know about the importance of the election.” The bet is that friends and peers will be best placed to persuade on-the-fence people in their social networks to back Biden.

“Over the last several months, REACH has been used successfully by Team Biden-Harris supporters and volunteers in the Black community as part of a first-of-its-kind relational organizing program in Milwaukee,” Garren Randolph, the campaign manager for the Wisconsin Democratic Coordinated Campaign, wrote in a memo this week.

The DNC also touted other investments in its memo.

As Republicans set their sights on competing this fall in Minnesota and Virginia, which Biden comfortably won in 2020, Democrats are also broadening their investments to target traditionally red states. This election cycle, the party has invested more than $4.5 million in its Red State Fund, which allocates resources for programs in traditionally Republican states. Kentucky, where Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won re-election last year, is among the red states that have seen big increases in national party investment.

And the DNC also touted new investments in election security measures.

It said in its memo it’s making seven-figure investments in a “robust voter protection operation,” including launching an online training system comprised of 57 videos, training voting staff members in topics from election administration and ballot curing to organizing and federal law.

In addition, the party said it will continue to support a voter assistance hotline. It said that it received over 28,000 calls in the 2022 midterms and that so far this cycle it has received more than 9,000.