Axios: Democrats are getting serious about data

By Alexi McCammond


The Democratic National Committee held its first-ever data bootcamp on Thursday — one of the first steps in the Party's massive effort to leverage tech and data to do things like reach unregistered minority voters and rethink their voter files data management


Why it matters: Data skills are becoming the lifeblood of modern campaigns and, after getting crushed 2016, Democrats are hoping an overhaul of their tech operations will prevent that from happening again in 2018 and beyond.


This is a turning point for the DNC, said Liz Jaff, a political strategist for the committee.


“One-and-a-half years ago you wouldn’t have seen these kinds of projects being presented at the DNC.”


After 2016 she said the group realized they need to be learning from everyone.


The details: The three-day summit was focused on training people who are interested in becoming data managers and directors and could be deployed to campaigns and state parties across the country.


Their goal is to make state campaigns as digitally savvy as possible, teaching staffers and volunteers everything from basic proficiencies (database management) to building predictive modeling.


Be smart: It doesn't help campaigns to have endless data if they don't know how to interpret it. “We really want to bring data science to the masses,” said Raffi Krikorian, the DNC’s chief technology officer.


Democratic divide: Some people at the bootcamp viewed the DNC's tech focus as a way to bridge the Bernie/Hillary divide. Rapi Castillo, founder of Progressive Voters for Bernie, said he was “so surprised” the DNC invited him to be a keynote speaker. “Now it feels like the DNC is open to how progressives are challenging the current status quo,” he told Axios.


What to watch: This is the start of DNC Chair Tom Perez's “Best Practices Institute” to help Democrats share solutions to common challenges. Other bootcamps will continue past the November election on topics like communications, organizing, and tech training.