Reinventing Canvassing for a Major Political Action Committee

Using natural language processing, BlueLabs helped a major political action committee (PAC) turn qualitative voter conversations into strategic insights and tactical tools.

When reviewing its programs after the 2016 election, our client learned that its on-ground canvassers had noticed visible cracks in the Democratic base in pivotal areas, but had no tools to capture and operationalize those observations.

Looking to remedy this problem, our client needed a way to collect this on-the-ground, real-time, qualitative data, and to quickly turn it into strategic insights and tactical voter targeting tools.

To tackle this challenge, BlueLabs designed an innovative “Feedback Loop” tool that turned open-ended voter concerns into accurate quantitative data. The tool used natural language processing to parse canvasser-collected notes and identify issues that voters were most concerned about, as well as trends in their enthusiasm. This data flowed into online reports that BlueLabs created, which displayed information on geographies and voter groups that were behaving differently than would have been expected based on historical performance.

Using this tool, our client was able to identify trends in voter behavior much earlier and in a more nuanced way than was possible with other instruments, such as more structured private and public polling. This gave it a crucial advantage and enabled it to adjust its targeting and messaging quickly. The Feedback Loop tool also allowed our client to update and micro-target messaging to specific demographic groups and regions within the states where it was active.

The Feedback Loop represents an innovation in canvassing analytics that enabled our client’s field program to be much more effective and responsive to on-the-ground trends in near-real time. In total, our client’s canvassers knocked on over 9 million doors in 7 key states and had nearly 1 million interactions with individuals, making it one of the most active, data driven, and impactful actors in the 2018 election.