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The Big Data Election: Political parties building detailed voter records

Glen McGregor | Ottawa Citizen, October 18, 2014

With a year to go before Canadians return to the polls, the federal Liberals and New Democrats are building enormous voter-tracking databases in an attempt to cut into the Conservatives' longstanding electoral advantage identifying and getting out their vote.

In the last six months, both opposition parties have hired data analytics experts to co-ordinate what is expected to be a key tactical approach in the 2015 election campaign. And both have turned to U.S. political consulting firms with links to Barack Obama's presidential campaigns for their expertise in electronically tracking and targeting voters.

To keep pace, the New Democrats are overhauling their own data strategy, turning to 270 Strategies Inc., a Washington, D.C. and Chicago-based company staffed by alumni of past Obama campaigns.

With 270's help, the NDP is rebuilding its core voter-tracking and fundraising database, modernizing the NDP Vote system used in 2011.

The New Democrats are also sending potential campaign staff on five-week placements working on the U.S. midterm elections through 270 Strategies and the Broadbent Institute, which helps left-wing campaigns organize.

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