DNC Announces New National Cell-Phone Purchase

DNC also announces new data-science model, “Sonar” that can increase efficiency of cell phone outreach by over 35 percent

In preparation for the 2020 campaign, today the Democratic National Committee announced it has purchased high-quality cell phone numbers for every possible voter in all 50 states and the District of Columbia which will be integrated into the DNC’s national voter file and add tens of millions of new numbers.

“We are excited to make this historic investment as we continue building the technological infrastructure our eventual nominee will need to defeat Trump — and help Democrats in every state and at every level of the ballot win in 2020,” said Nellwyn Thomas, DNC Chief Technology Officer.  “Making sure campaigns and state parties have access to reliable cell phone numbers and data helps them reach more voters, more efficiently, especially those who are younger or tend to move around a lot. The more efficient we can be in our outreach, the more likely we are to win, and this technology will help more volunteers and campaigns have better conversations with voters about why it’s so important to elect Democrats in 2020.”

This acquisition enables all campaigns – from the presidential to local state house races – contact voters they previously might not have been able to reach. It also increases match rates for digital targeting, allowing candidates to connect with more voters online and offline.

Additionally, The DNC has built a proprietary data science model (“Sonar”) that helps campaigns prioritize calling phone numbers that will lead to successful phone contacts and reduces the likelihood of calling someone who prefers not receive calls. By using the contactability model, campaigns can increase the efficiency of cell phone outreach by over 35%. This model is used by the vast majority of Democratic campaigns to prioritize calls, ensuring volunteers spend their time talking directly to voters about issues core to our democracy.

Additional information about the cell phone purchase:

  • The cell phone numbers will be integrated into the DNC’s national voter file where they will complement other data sets.

  • This cell phone acquisition is not a one-time purchase. Throughout the 2020 cycle, the DNC will receive regularly updated cell phone information. This ensures campaigns always have the most up-to-date information on how to reach voters via cell phone as people’s numbers change and new cell phone data becomes available.

  • This is the first time the DNC has made a national cell phone buy at this stage of the presidential campaign cycle.

  • This is a six-figure investment.

  • The security of voter data is a top priority of the DNC. We work with all campaigns to ensure voter data is secure and to respect the privacy of voter data.

Additional information about the DNC’s technology efforts to prepare for the 2020 general election:

  • Democrats maintain a national voter file which includes every registered voter in America. This file is integrated with key data sets, like voter history, demographic information. as well as modeling. We are constantly updating and enhancing this data file, and it is the central dataset used by all Democratic campaigns and committees. This all helps campaigns at every level reach the right voters they need to with the right message at the right time and the right place.

  • After 2016, Democrats also overhauled our data infrastructure operating system to create a new, state-of-the-art, cloud-based data warehouse. This makes it easy and efficient for campaigns to access and utilize the voter file.

  • At the DNC, we have tripled the size of our technology team and brought top talent with technology experience in both the private sector and the campaign. Nellwyn Thomas is our CTO and worked at the Clinton campaign and Facebook, and Bob Lord, our Chief Security Officer, is a veteran of Twitter and Yahoo.

  • The DNC has also reached a historic agreement with state parties to participate in the new Democratic Data Exchange. This new data exchange allows candidates, state parties, the DNC and the progressive ecosystem to share data in real time and leverage all of the voter contact work of the entire Democratic community.