The conservative political data firm i360 is polling more than 200,000 registered voters every month in an effort to offer Republicans unparalleled voter turnout capabilities in the midterm elections and beyond.
The Democrats have been at the forefront of collecting data on prospective voters and using the information to drive turnout, far outpacing the Republican Party's data-mining efforts.
But i360 believes it has turned a corner, with company officials asserting that the firm’s access to proprietary survey data on millions of Americans offers Republicans an advantage in the competition to sway public opinion and influence the vote.
“It helps us confirm our models — helps us with our real-time analytics. And, it’s hard data,” i360 President Michael Palmer said Thursday at the firm’s Arlington, Va., office.
Founded in 2007, the company offers a range of data and digital tools to Republican candidates and conservative advocacy organizations. It is associated with the industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, major donors to conservative groups.
The firm posses data on all 250 million Americans age 18 and over, including whether they are registered to vote, and houses 71 million active Internet user identifiers, known as “cookies.” Among i360's newest offerings: allowing clients to target television ads at specific groups of voters, as long as they are satellite TV subscribers, as opposed to buying advertising time during a particular program in prime time.
This election cycle, i360 has invested heavily in what it refers to as voter identification work, or “ID work.” The average live-dial poll with a sample size of about 700 people can cost a campaign $25,000.
Beginning late last year, i360 started conducting live-dial surveys of more than 200,000 mostly registered voters — every month.
Sometimes i360 focuses on a state with a targeted gubernatorial or Senate race; sometimes a survey is geared toward gauging the national political atmosphere. The information is crunched by i360’s team of data scientists who produce what the firm believes are among the most accurate predictive turnout models available.
With new data constantly streaming in, i360 and its clients don’t have to wait the week it typically takes to conduct and analyze a new poll to measure the political impact of a news event or a candidate’s latest campaign message.
Additionally, the massive amount of new and refined survey data on each voter removes much of the guesswork from the firm’s turnout models, strengthening clients’ ability to successfully micro-target prospective voters.
A Republican pollster who is used to surveying groups of 400 to 800 to 1,200 voters at a time, and using those sample sizes to make predictions about voter attitudes and turnout, marveled at the work i360 is doing.
So much of a what a pollster does is examine survey results, sometimes after asking a limited number of questions, and then extrapolate from that data how a larger population of voters will behave.
The Republican operative speculated that the level of data i360 is gathering from its massive survey work allows it to better determine who the most likely voters are, what issues motivate them and who they’re likely to support on Election Day.
“It’s not just simply reducing the margin of error,” the pollster said. “When you’ve got thousands of records, what you can begin to do is really model on a basis of a more definitive understanding why things are occurring.”