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Big data wars: How technology could tip the mid-term elections

Jeff Vance | Oct. 28, 2014
The Democratic Party started building databases with detailed voter information, started deploying data analytics tools, and quickly saw the possibilities of social media.

NationBuilder is already impacting elections. Two of the best examples come from overseas. During the Scottish election for independence, both supporters and opponents of independence used NationBuilder, and the turnout ended up breaking all U.K. records at 85 percent.

The Scottish Independence vote was a unique election, but the huge turnout points to the most likely impact of tools like NationBuilder: it could well level the tech playing field.

Another, perhaps better example, is how NationBuilder helped a small group of grassroots organizers knock off an entrenched incumbent to elect an independent candidate, Cathy McGowan, to Australia's Parliament.

The most interesting thing about the McGowan election is that McGowan didn't drive it. The grassroots movement to replace incumbent Sophie Mirabella emerged first, and only after the movement had already gained momentum did it convince McGowan to run.

The McGowan election serves as a proof of concept for grassroots organizing, showing just how digital tools that simplify everything from fundraising to voter targeting to social media messaging can swing an election if leveraged to their fullest advantage.


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