How Accurate Is Voter Data?

Since 1998, polls have accurately predicted the outcome of House, Senate, gubernatorial general election, and presidential races 78% of the time, a statistic that — all things considered — is pretty impressive. 

Pollsters use a variety of information to make their predictions, including serves, historical trends, and most importantly, voter data, but therein lies a concern: whether the voter data pollsters collect is accurate.

Accuracy depends largely on the source and completeness of the dataset in use; with the right data, you can predict voter behavior with great accuracy and inform your campaigning efforts, but it’s important to have a firm grasp on the factors that impact voter data quality and trustworthiness.

The Foundation of Voter Data

Voter data typically encompasses a range of information, from basic demographics to detailed voting histories, and is crucial for political campaigns aiming to tailor their messaging, target potential supporters, and mobilize them via Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaigns. 

The reliability of these efforts, however, hinges on the underlying accuracy of the data collected; inaccurate data can have a huge impact on the direction and efficacy of any campaign strategy. 

For instance, let’s say that you want to run a massive mailer campaign that targets unregistered voters in a particular county, but your voter data is filled with inaccurate addresses, meaning many of your mailers reach individuals who are either already registered to vote or supportive of the other candidate.

In such a scenario, while your initial idea may have been sound, the GOTV campaign quickly went off the rails due to voter data inaccuracies, meaning you wasted a lot of time and money and potentially undermined your own campaign as a result.

What Constitutes Accurate Voter Data?

When evaluating the accuracy and usability of voter data, you should consider the following variables:

Completeness

Incomplete voter records can be just as bad as inaccurate ones. If you get 10,000 voter records for your campaign, but about half of the files lack phone numbers and email addresses, a large portion of the data you collect is unusable.

Completeness (or lack thereof) will have varying degrees of impact on your campaign; it all depends on what data is missing. For example, if many of your voter files lack home addresses, but you plan on running a digital campaign that uses email and SMS messaging, the impacts will be minimal. 

Relevance

When evaluating relevance, you are simply asking whether the voter dataset includes the bits of information you need to power your campaign. You need information that allows you to connect with and sway voters toward a specific action, such as registering, volunteering, or donating to your campaign. 

Age

The age of the data you collect has a direct impact on its accuracy. Voter files that are between four and five years old are much more likely to have errors, especially when it comes to address data, as the average American moves at least once every five years. If you are working with voter files that are five years old or older, there’s a good chance that some, if not most, of the data is going to be useless. 

How Aristotle Ensures Accuracy

Several factors contribute to the accuracy of voter data, including the methods of data collection, the frequency of updates, and the verification processes employed by data custodians. Data custodians can be state or local election offices or third-party entities, such as Aristotle. 

As a leader in political data, Aristotle has additional incentives to maintain high-quality voter files. Our clients depend on us to deliver reliable information that supports their campaign objectives, and we carefully manage our data records using established processes. 

In any case, let’s dive deeper into more variables that impact voter data accuracy and what Aristotle does to mitigate the impacts of these variables. 

Data Collection and Maintenance Process

The initial collection of voter data occurs when individuals register to vote, providing basic information such as name, address, and sometimes party affiliation. That data is subject to change, necessitating regular updates to ensure accuracy, but the efficiency of those updates depends on the resources available to election offices and the legal frameworks governing data maintenance.

Unlike election offices, Aristotle is not limited to election data; we also compile millions of consumer files to optimize the completeness and reliability of our data. Consumer data is a remarkably invaluable tool for completing voter record files and supplementing your campaign. 

Mobility and Demographic Changes

High mobility rates among the population present a significant challenge with regard to maintaining accurate voter data. People moving across county or state lines may not immediately update their voter registration, leading to outdated information in databases. Additionally, demographic changes, such as aging populations or shifts in party affiliations, add layers of complexity to ensuring data accuracy.

Once again, Aristotle takes extra steps to mitigate the impacts of mobility and demographic changes. For instance, voters may delay updating their address with state or local voter registration organizations, but they will promptly update their address with the businesses they purchase e-commerce goods from. By combining consumer and voter records, we offset the impacts of location changes. 

Tap Into Accurate Voter Data With Aristotle

Aristotle is a leader in political data, serving a wide range of clients, including lawmakers, campaigns, political consulting firms, political action committees (PACs), grassroots advocacy groups, and academic organizations. 

As a premier data partner, Aristotle can provide you with access to tens of millions of consumer and voter files, as well as a monthly mover file with over one million records. Schedule a demo of Aristotle today to learn more.


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