From the Rural Ground Game:
Announcing a New Partnership: Better Data to Support Rural Democrats
Too often, in our discourse about the future of our Party, rural constituencies are framed as a problem we have to solve, a mystery we can’t comprehend, a grating frustration.
Somewhere along the way, we lost our tether to rural America and we’ve felt the painful electoral impact of that. People in rural communities have felt disrespected and left behind. This problem is not static. This is not something we can continue to simply set aside and return to address at a more convenient time. The time to take an unflinching look at this challenge and set to work to meet it is now.
Reconnecting with rural people, as a Party, is possible. A growing number of individuals and organizations are bringing their experience in and love for rural communities to the work of innovative outreach to build trust and earn votes. Between now and November 5, 2024, we are determined to link arms with as many partners as we can find to build capacity and make electoral gains at every opportunity.
There are many effective approaches and tools we can bring to this work. We aren’t going to claim to know the secret sauce, there isn’t one. This issue is far too complex and important to recklessly claim that there is a simple or one-size-fits-all solution. What we do know is that progress will be made as a result of vision, innovation, collaboration, and hard work.
In order to find our way back to the people in rural areas, we need resources to see those communities more clearly and gauge the effectiveness of our outreach efforts within them. Rural candidates (when we have them) are not likely to be able to afford extremely expensive polling data which ultimately offers only a brief snapshot of district-level opinion.
FilterLabs has been tracking community level discourse and sentiment in the most hard-to-reach and overlooked areas. They have pioneered the use of public, open source data to give campaigns insight into what communities think and feel about a range of issues – a candidate, issue, or community needs.
FilterLabs offers the granularity of local experts with the scalability of data tools. Campaigns, parties, and issue advocacy groups often encounter the trade-off between general, one-size-fits-all approaches that scale well and customized strategies that are tailored to a district but can’t be repeated. FilterLabs’ technology combines its hyper-local data discovery process with state of the art data analysis to give organizations district-specific granularity that is transportable across congressional districts and even states.
FilterLabs uses Natural Language Processing, a branch of Artificial Intelligence, to discover and analyze community level data from even the most remote corners of a district. For example, in the chart below, FilterLabs can measure and compare public sentiment on two issues. Using comparisons like these, local campaigns and committees can better understand how their local areas are discussing issues.
There are three interesting features here:
- Generally Parents and Public Education were both trending in an overall positive direction at the same time from early March to late April.
- In late April Public Education continued to trend upward while Parents remained a little more static.
- There were a couple of shorter periods in March where the two diverged then came back together.
The takeaway. Parents and Public Education are less aligned now than they were in early March.
Past divergences tended to be shorter lived and less extreme than the current situation.
Last fall, Filter put its technology to the test on a local proposition in Austin, Texas. They were able to correctly predict the outcome of the proposition, the key issues driving it, and the local journalists and influencers who were moving opinion in the community. All this was done at a fraction of a cost of a single poll.
FilterLabs is giving grassroots organizations access to data tools that are usually only available to the largest, most well-funded campaigns. Rural GroundGame is excited to collaborate with FilterLabs as we test new approaches to community outreach and messaging. We are eager to put this innovative tool to use in improving electoral outcomes for Democrats in rural areas.