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DNC hopes to reach more voters with new voter file model

The Democratic National Committee is rolling out a new voter file model Friday that it hopes will help volunteers reach more receptive voters with their text messages. 

The model is supposed to predict the likelihood of a working cell phone number, whether the number is assigned to the person an organizer is trying to reach and give some indication that the person will respond positively to a text message. Based on these factors, the model will produce a score of the quality of cell phones for text message outreach to organizers. 

The DNC aims to raise productivity and efficiency in conducting voter outreach by giving volunteers high-quality cell phone numbers and preventing them from texting wrong or disconnected numbers. The party hopes the program will have a big impact on outreach. Organizers who reach out to people whose phone numbers are in the top 10% of scores are nearly four times as likely to have successful voter outreach, compared to people whose cell numbers score in the bottom 10%. The text message content will include reminders to register to vote and invitations to volunteer with campaigns or to attend virtual events.

Traditional door-to-door canvassing has been limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, so there's more pressure to increase the efficiency of virtual canvassing. Nellwyn Thomas, the DNC's chief technology officer, said the new model is built off the party's "previous technology efforts."

The scores produced by the model can be accessed for free by the Biden campaign, state parties and the DNC's sister committees, such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, at the DNC's data warehouse based in Phoenix. Democratic organizing teams have used texting the past several months to connect with voters this cycle in battleground states, such as Florida, Georgia, Maine and Pennsylvania, to encourage voters to vote by mail.

This new model is the latest effort by the DNC to scale up its technology infrastructure and efforts ahead of the general election. In January, the DNC purchased high-quality cell phone numbers for possible voters around the country in order to be integrated into the DNC's voter file. According to a DNC official, the DNC has also tripled its staff on its technology team to about 60 people across 20 states.

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